Kirchner - The Trawler.org
Jimena Val Gora
The restrictions placed on acquiring US Dollars in Argentina, imposed by the government in the last few months, are one of the major topics in national newspapers. Marcos Novaroanalyzes Pres. C. Kirchner last announcement, in this article, where she informed the population that she was going to sell her savings in the US currency in order to acquire Argentinean pesos.
Novaro explains that this is a typical case of “ruling with the example”. This practice, quite normal in politics, has been used by all types of governments: democratic, authoritarian, despotic, republican, etc. In the case of Cristina Kirchner, Novaro points out that using herself as an example is a common practice in the presidential speeches, as she usually invokes experiences from her life to justify different decisions. This, Novaro argues, is a quite typical strategy which is normally used to approach the public and give a more ‘human’ image, and it should not be problematic at all.
However, the announcement of selling her dollars should be interpreted in a different way. President Kirchner and the rest of the government officers, who were urged by the president to follow her example, present themselves as the solution to the problem, and therefore moving away from the cause of it. The announcement provoked a debate about whether it was wise to imitate her or not. Novaro regards Kirchner’s actions as manipulative, she does not want to be remembered as the president of the high inflation (25-30%), the president who was unable to defend the national currency. Therefore, she decided to plead herself “guilty” of buying dollars in the past, but she makes no mention to the root causes of the inflation in the first place.
Novaro asks himself if the President will be able to gain followers with her actions. The answer is, probably, no. But that is not really important. The major issue is the economic and political crisis that is approaching. The strategy of the government is now to show that those who insist on the dollar, and do not choose to trust in the national peso, are the ones to be regarded as responsible for the crisis. Novaro concludes that while kirchnerism was able to produce a big growth of private goods, on the public sphere the deficit is also growing at a big scale. There is a lack of public goods, an inability to produce them or manage them, and the public goods that had been inherited from the past have been wasted and preyed. The currency is clearly one of these public goods.
Jimena Val Gora
He begins with three important accomplishments. The first one is a political one: during these last nine years the political authority of the President was rebuilt, which is quite a relevant issue if we consider the fact that in the 2001- 2002 crisis there were five different presidents in ten days.
The second accomplishment is the growth of the economy, which was in line with a general growth of the entire region. However, in the Argentinean case the recovery allowed a faster and less painful way out of the crisis. The third point is the reduction of poverty and unemployment –which was also following the general tendency of Latin America. Poverty index in 2002 was of 53%, now it is estimated to be around 22%.
Regarding the unresolved matters Fraga also presents three important issues. In the political area, the division of powers has been weakened and instead there is a strong “hyperpresidentialism”. In the social area, the inequality level has been seldom reduced, and this can be linked to the low quality of public education. The high rates of violence and criminality are also correlated with the level of inequality.The third point Fraga mentions is the current situation of international relations. The country is still quite isolated and is having problems trying to reinsert into the international arena.
Finally, Fraga distinguishes three different moments in the “Kirchner” era. The first one, between 2003 and 2005, can be called “transversability”. Here, N. Kirchner made an effort to create a new political force, differentiating himself from the classic Peronism. The second period is between 2005 and 2010, when Kirchner returned to Peronism and its classic allies and focused on governability. The third period, from 2010 to 2012, occurred after his demise. Cristina Kirchner assumed leadership and once again drifted apart from classic Peronism and former allies.
Fraga’s doubt is whether now, that the economic growth is at a stall, Kirchnerism will still be able to get the same political support.
Jimena Val Gora
Marcos Novaro analyzes, in this article, the last decisions of the government and particularly the position of Pres. C. Kirchner. He considers that the President had better options to consolidate her power, but she decided to fight on too many fronts and to transform her allies into enemies.
Novaro sees the President’s last actions as an irreversible way to radicalization: confiscation of YPF, the government position in the Ciccone case, and the continuous confrontations with City of Buenos Aires’ Mayor Mauricio Macri, Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli– a member of her own party– and syndical leader Hugo Moyano. Novaro asks himself for how long will society continue to allow and tolerate the government behavior, especially if the economic crisis starts to deepen. Eventually, Novaro suggests, the government’s actions may lead to a trap. Novaro considers that after Pres. Kirchner was reelected he had better options, which could also include some radical measures. Instead, she made some wrong decisions that are now putting her in the middle of a sort of “political war”. The situation forced the government to increase its debt which is why the state is moving forward in taking control of the exchange market, trade and energy. But the costs of these movements may be too hard, especially when many former allies of the government are becoming enemies.
Jimena Val Gora
Beatriz Sarlo, at La Nación, offers this articlecontaining her sharp appreciation of the polemic Spot for the Olympic Games launched by the National Government last week. In the spot, we can see an Argentinean athlete training in Malvinas Islands. At the end we can read “[t]o compete in British soil, we train in Argentinean soil”.
It can be said that sport has the ability to wake nationalistic passions; this is true in Argentina and in almost every country of the world. During the Olympics, these nationalistic feelings tend to increase. In the particular case of Argentina, Sarlo affirms that nationalism is used to fill empty spaces of the social tissue. It has been used and abused both by democratic and authoritarian governments. Malvinas is indeed a good example of how nationalism can be exploited. 30 years ago people were celebrating in the streets the decision of a de facto and authoritarian president to take over the Islands by a military action. Now a military attack is completely out of the question, but the strategy chosen by the government, including the Olympic spot, seems to be to send hostile messages to UK.
Sarlo considers that C.Kirchnerhas made public announces and speeches her particular way of making politics. Her goal is never to lose the initiative in the media. The “Malvinas Spot” spot is used by the government to transmit a message beyond what the spot literally says. Fist, Sarlo argues, it gives the message that in the name of the country everything is valid –the spot has been filmed almost in secret and the participants did not know that it was for the government. Second, the transgression is too high. Malvinas may be considered Argentinean by most of the people, the government and a even by some allied countries, but in real practice they are under British control. This spot is a clear provocation, defended and paid by the National Government.
Jimena Val Gora
Orlando Ferreres, in his column at La Nación, tries to explain in this article and give some clarity to the economic situation of the country. On the one hand, most economists affirm that macroeconomic situation of the country is getting difficult and unsustainable. On the other hand, most of the population find themselves in a good situation and keep supporting Cristina Kirchner’s government.
Ferreres explains in a clear and understandable way the perspective of the economists and the perspective of the “normal people”. The Kirchner’s model could be described as follows: high real exchange rate, diversified production, social inclusion, fiscal and external surplus, accumulation of reserves and debt reduction. Ferreres goes through all these aspects and gives his diagnosis of their present situation:
HighReal exchange rate: It was working well until 2007, but because of the 2-digits inflations and other reasons this pillar does not hold anymore.
Surplus: Fiscal surplus has turned into deficit. External surplus has been decreasing and it’s likely to be negative next year.
Accumulation of reserves: It is very much tied to agricultural production, and due to the severe draughts the country went through the reserves are likely to start falling.
Debt reduction: There has been indeed a reduction of international debt –at the cost of losing access to international financial market. But on the other hand there is a huge “invisible” internal debt growing.
Diversified reduction: The model is actually “soy dependent.” Industrial manufactures are not competitive.
Social exclusion: Consumption has indeed grown, but there is also a big number of young people who are neither working nor studying, which means they will be excluded from a future competitive life.
On the other hand we have what people perceive in their everyday life:
Real salary is growing: Even though inflation is high, real salaries are also growing and people are not losing their consumption capacity.
No strong unemployment issues: Employment has grown considerably since 2003, and those who are unemployed can benefit from social plans.
Consumption is rising: services are cheap, and short term credit is also growing.
Ferreres concludes that the model is effectively starting to show its weaknesses and it needs to be restructured, but people are unable to notice it because their closest variables are still working well. Eventually, the two models will have to converge into one.
Jimena Val Gora
Historian L.A. Romero argues in this articlethat the main problem with the nationalization of YPF is that the Argentinean State is battered, dismantled and subjugated to the government. YPF, he argues, is not being nationalized; it is being handed to the government.
Romero writes a long and interesting article where he tracks down the importance and the shape of the Argentinean State throughout the twentieth century. YPF, he explains, was the emblem of the strong and powerful State that Argentina used to have, at least until the devious and infamous 70s. However, this powerful State in order to achieve its objectives promoted and granted exemptions, which eventually became privileges. In the case of YPF, syndical corporations extended over the staff members and contributed to the expansion of the company’s and State’s deficit. 1976 coup d’état motto was “A smaller State is a bigger nation”. And the State was indeed dismantled. When democracy returned in 1983, the State was weak and eroded. During Carlos Menem government in the 90s everything that was left of the State was privatized, including YPF. Nestor Kirchner, by then governor of Santa Cruz, encouraged and approved the privatization.
Romero argues that both Menem and Kirchner governments are much more alike than what it may seem from a first sight. The major difference was in their speech: neoliberal and privatizer in Menem case, and statist and populist in Kirchner case. But they did the same, just with different arguments. They found the way of concentrating more power and privileges first by privatizingm and then by nationalizing, always in benefit of the government and to detriment of the State.
Romero concludes that the State is now fragmented and eroded, and it is governed by a group of people that only keep ruining it. When they are in need of legitimacy they use the image of the old powerful State- and many people believe it, and they believe that nationalization of YPF is about this old State and not about the government and its members. Romero finishes by saying that the first priority for the country should be to reconstruct the State. Only then will nationalization be a positive thing.
Jimena Val Gora
Fernando Laborda, at La Nación, explains in this article that President Kirchner has known how to turn almost every crisis into an opportunity. Now that Vice President A. Boudou is under investigation, she used the situation to attack General Attorney Esteban Righi and force his resignation.
According to Laborda this was a perfect opportunity for Cristina Kirchner to imitate her Brasilian colleague Dilma Rousseff, who forced the resignation of 12 members of her administration the moment they were implicated in corruption cases. Why did Kirchner not follow the Rousseff model?
Laborda suggests that if Boudou had resigned the message would have been: First they are taking Boudou, I can be the next one . . . If Boudou had resigned the investigation and suspicions of corruption would go deeper, and the President was likely to lose some key persons from her administration like AFIP director Ricardo Echegaray and Central Bank president Mercedes Marcó del Pont. Laborda also points out that the government strategy of defending Boudou and attacking the judicial system can also be dangerous for the President’s interests. Righi was after all a president’s man, and now all government officers somehow related to him are also under suspicion.