By Lucila Gallino & Ralph T. Niemeyer
It has been 71 years now that Evita Duarte de Peron, before her departure to the other world, coined her last words. But today, it would no longer be the famous phrase – later converted into a musical- “Don’t cry for me Argentina” but rather “I Cry for you Argentina.”
When Evita said goodbye to the people who loved her from the balcony of the Casa Rosada in Plaza de Mayo, she already knew that without her and her husband Col. Juan Peron, the “descamisados” would be left helpless. She was not wrong.
From the end of that Peronist government, the most important popular movement in the history of Argentina in the 20th century, there were only a few and brief distribution cycles and development.
After 40 years of democracy, Argentina continues to have an uncertain future and a one of the highest inflation rates in the region: 104.3% year-on-year amid a continuously rising poverty level that according to the UCA (Argentine Catholic University) indicates that poverty is close to 40%.
Despite a rising GDP and containment plans, the advance in inflation has not come anywhere close to compensate the income while homelessness also advances rapidly while there is a red alert in infancy as well.
This prosperous country that once held a prominent place for its growth in
the sectors of industry and scientific development now seems like a fiction.
One of the main causes of this free fall of the country is correlated with the history of debts acquired illegally and fraudulently in collusion with the US government. During the last 3 major periods of indebtedness, we observe that they happen cyclically every ten years: in the 1970s, during the military dictatorship; during the 1990s with the government of President Carlos Saul Menem (1989-1999), and during the government of President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).
If we take the period of the 1970s, some young economists, among them later Economics Minister Domingo Cavallo, of the bourgeoisie were sent to train in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago the so-called “Chicago Boys” who followed the ideas of Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger who helped generate unpayable debts during the time of the Plan Condor.
Those debts had been created by the Junta in 1980 and 81 before agreeing to allow democratic elections. One can legitimately say that these fascist generals had printed bonds and deposited these in banks in US and UK.
Then, the first freely elected president after the dictatorship, Raul Alfonsin, a rather leftist liberal ‘Radical’, took seat and was immediately put under pressure by the demands resulting from the debts the Junta generals had created. It was virtually impossible for Mr Alfonsin to govern under these circumstances but could only administrate the scarcity. After only one term he was replaced by Peronist Carlos Menem who ran the Peso-Dollar-Paridad scam that predictably collapsed after 10 years but after Mr Menem and his finance minister, a follower of Friedman’s ‘Chicago School of Economics’ Mr Cavallo had left their offices.
In 2003, Mr Alfonsin answered EU-Chronicle’s question why he did not had negotiated the debts in a way that Mr Duhalde and Mr Kirchner did, that he had feared that the military dictatorship would have returned in that case.
Mr Duhalde told EU-Chronicle in an exclusive interview in his holiday residence in Pinamar in 2003 that the powers of a president were very limited.
Following the chaotic demise of the ‘Radical’ government of President Fernando de la Rua, Peronist Eduardo Duhalde took over and while negotiating a financial haircut on the illegitimate debts organised that Nestor Kirchner could win the elections in 2003. Mr Kirchner, a Peronist as well, completed the financial restructuring in one term and was followed by his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who governed for 2 terms.
After the last government administration of a neoliberal Party, that of Maurico Macri, the Argentines know the impotence and dire consequences generated by a illegitimate debt. This 25th May 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the government of Nestor Kirchner, who achieved to take the country forward in one of the worst historical moments of it when the country fell in a serious economic crisis that produced a financial default in 2001.
During those 12 years, the country grew steadily and was able to pay most of the debt owed to the IMF.
It also incorporated recognized human rights organizations, promoted the
prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity, likewise
halved the levels of poverty, indigence and unemployment, the renovation of the Supreme Court recommended it, imposed the Media Law, deepened regional policy, generated greater distribution in salary and generally allowed better working conditions, life and industrial growth. This earned Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner a relentless persecution during the years of former President Mauricio Macri, who created the largest debt probably illegally and fraudulent granted in the history of the IMF.
Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner recently described how scandalous the agreement that was negotiated with the IMF has been, and warned about a recent report of the AGN, General Audit of the Nation, which analyzes how the agreement with the IMF during the government of Maurcio Macri had been put together. This report details the flaws of the process and that it was not done as demanded by the law, so that steps were skipped and standards were not met, for example, asking the central bank if this was a payable deal if possible without put the country’s economy at risk for the next 100 years.
In 2018 the figure of debts represented 127 times the borrowing capacity of Argentina. But, not only that, the debt increased the vulnerability of the country. For this loan Argentinians paid very high expenses and commissions. What has also been investigated is that the agreement did not meet any transparency of this debt while the agreement was signed by the finance minister who did not have the power to sign such public debt, no authority as the law would require such as in case of external debt issues an opinion on the balance of payments ought to be obtained from experts.
On top of that, the Macri-government didn’t dare to put it through congress either, so really no procedure of any kind was implemented by the head of the minister’s cabinet.
Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner challenged these practices and then was confronted with an assassination attempt by a gun held against her head, allegedly an assassin financed by Mr. Macri’s friend, Nicolas Caputo. But, Mrs. Fernandez de Kirchner also faces the media and later judicial persecution that led her to today face a trial that would be worth imprisonment for 8 years and a ban for life in politics in this country.
Interestingly, Mrs. Fernandez de Kirchner in a speech expressed a forceful
allegation and affirming that history would absolve her for all the accusations of corruption and persecution against her. “I will not be a pet of any of you referring to the called judicial caste in this country”. She is probably referring to the structures that continue to control this country. This is may be the reason why for many millions of Argentinians democracy remains a myth no matter who will be next president in Argentina unless there is not a radical change in the policies to be followed in this country.