The election of Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s new president is a promising development, not just for his long-suffering nation, but for the prospects that Latin America can move successfully into a post-Chavez period of reintegration with the West. As Argentina works to reinvigorate its economy, abandon a provocative and failed foreign policy and assure citizens that rule of law and an independent judiciary will be respected, the U.S. has a rare opportunity to make a real difference by supporting the fresh wind blowing through the Western Hemisphere. 

Macri already is living up to early expectations by announcing that Argentina’s agreement with Iran to whitewash responsibility for the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center is null and void. But his challenge to achieve lasting change is enormous. As the first president from outside Argentina’s two major political parties – the Peronists and the Radical Civic Union – in more than 100 years, the election of the center-right conservative Macri is a monumental development for a nation whose attempts at securing a democratic political system too often have been forestalled by military intervention and intrigue. Surely Macri’s election is a sign that Argentinians are seeking a change from the status quo. 

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Having personally gotten to know Macri over the past few years, I believe he has the leadership qualities to fulfill his vision of leading Argentina into a new era of economic prosperity. Renewing strong economic relations with the United States and other western nations will be part of Macri’s effort to repair the damage of Buenos Aires’ default on its debt and exit from the dollar in 2002 amid the Argentine Great Depression. Reversing his predecessor’s isolationist trade policies will be applauded in Washington and most other western capitals, and contribute to jump starting Argentina’s stalled economy. 

However, enacting new policies will be easier than creating a deeper national appreciation and adherence to the values represented by civil society.  

His decision to reopen the investigation of the AMIA Jewish Center bombing, in which 85 Argentines lost their lives in a terrorist bombing more than 20 years ago, has the potential to restore confidence among citizens that rule of law and justice will be administered without compromise. In a case where not one person has been prosecuted notwithstanding the vast evidence of Iranian complicity in funding Hezbollah’s criminality, it is not too late for Argentina to do the right thing. Further, even as many Latin American leaders seem cowed or complacent, Macri has demonstrated his independence and leadership by condemning the Venezuelan regime for its rampant human rights abuses.  

I had the good fortune of hosting then-Mayor of Buenos Aires Macri as a guest at the annual International Mayors Conference in Israel last year, where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli political, civic and business leaders. Macri expressed his genuine commitment to develop closer political and economic ties with Israel. 

Only time will tell how well President Macri fulfills the promise of these early days in his presidency. Unsurprisingly, he has made new enemies by taking bold stands. The United States must take advantage of the opportunity Macri’s election brings to help Argentina and its neighbors achieve a stronger, more stable and more prosperous future. Argentines need to know that the leader of the free world is committed to their success, and that Macri’s efforts have American support; they deserve no less.

 Rosen is the president of American Jewish Congress and the chairman of the American Council for World Jewry.