Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Final Few Words About My Visit to Argentina

Times passes quickly, particularly when one returns from a trip and faces many things awaiting on his "to do" list at his office!

However, a few final observations to wrap up my observations about my recent visit (April 19-26) to Buenos Aires. First, the members of the legal community who I met with are extremely talented and perceptive individuals, not only about natural resources and environmental issues in Argentina and South America but also in their views about the world. My visit to the firm of Perez Alati, Grondona, Benites, Arntsen & Martinez de Hoz, where I spoke about the LLM/MRLS program, is an example. The attorneys there are very knowledgeable about issues surrounding climate change and carbon credit-related projects. In fact, they are among the most well versed on the matter of these projects of anyone I've ever spoken with.  I enjoyed an enjoyable session with their young attorneys, some of whom I hope to see in our program someday.  

Second, there is a sense of pragmatism combined with optimism about the future development of South America. On one hand, those who I spoke with are agreed that for the most part the region has been "underdeveloped" in terms of natural resource projects. On the other hand, however, there is also a recognition that natural resource development must be undertaken in a manner that benefits local communities, regions, and countries in which it takes place. Development for development's sake is no longer (if it ever was) considered beneficial per se.

Third, there is a shared sense of optimism about the western hemisphere, particularly in light of the election of President Obama. Are the expectations involving one man too high? Time will tell, but to be sure the president must take care not to elevate hopes so high that only disappointment results when his achievements fall short. Interestingly enough, President Obama faces nearly exactly the same challenge at home as he does abroad.

Finally, there is much to be gained by everyone in the western hemisphere from a relationship that is marked by respect and shared benefit. It is not enough for one region to benefit while another region does not. What binds us together is much greater than individual differences. That is not to suggest that countries in this hemisphere need to agree on everything. But (and my study of the European Union is showing through here) to the extent that countries share in the benefits of trade and economic growth, the hemisphere will be a stronger, more enduring part of the world.

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