Media fact chech by ChequeadoMonday, March 2, 2015
A quick fact-check: from true to false
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gave her last presidential address at the opening of Congress, and for the third consecutive year a group of public policy experts, volunteers and staff at Chequeado held a collective, live fact-checking event.
In Twitter, under #ChequeadoCFK, nearly 1,500,000 people followed and participated in this initiative.
Chequeado.com is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose goal is to improve the quality of public debate by providing greater access to information and circulating verified data to contribute to the strengthening of democracy in Argentina.
Here are some of the fact-checks produced during the collective fact-check:
“A scholar (at the Conicet state-run think-tank) who earned 800 pesos now makes more than 9,000 pesos”
While stipends vary according to place of work, the information published by Conicet — last updated in August 2014 — reveals that PhD scholars earn in all cases more than 9,000 pesos and post-doctoral scholars more than 11,000 pesos, without taking into account health insurance and other contributions. If these numbers are compared based on the official US dollar exchange rate at the time, the 2003 stipend was US$250 while today it reaches US$1,035.
“University enrollment rates (between 2001 and 2014) grew by 33 percent and the number of graduates from national and private universities increased by 93 percent”
The data published by the University Policies Secretariat of the national Education Ministry in its yearly statistical reports corroborates the information presented by the president for the year 2001. However, there is no information published for 2014 in the official website of the Education Ministry. Until 2001, there were 1,412,999 university students and in 2011 (latest available data), enrollment rates grew by 27 percent.
In 2001, 65,104 students graduated from undergraduate programmes. In 2011, this indicator increased to 109,360 students, meaning there was an increase of 68 percent. The president said that in 2014, 120,000 students graduated with undergraduate degrees and that the increase between 2001-2014 was 93 percent. This data has not been published, and hence it cannot be verified.
“Today there are more than 900 convictions for human rights violations”
According to the last report published by the Attorney General’s Office Unit for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, the number of individuals convicted for human rights violations during the last dictatorship is lower than the one cited by the president. Information from the Attorney General’s office indicates that by the end of 2014, there were 554 convictions for human rights violations and 15 ongoing legal proceedings against 282 defendants in various courts across the country.
“Our country is the only one which has reduced its foreign debt in the whole world”
President Fernández de Kirchner made this statement citing a report by the McKinsey consultancy firm. However, according to the report itself, this is false: other than Argentina, the countries which between 2007 and 2014 decreased their debt/GDP ratio were Romania, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia. In the latter two, debt was reduced by greater percentages than Argentina. It is important to highlight that McKinsey did not refer to foreign debt in these countries, as Fernández de Kirchner affirmed in her speech, but to debt owed by households, non-financial corporates and governments.
“The contribution of the Industrial Sector to the GDP, equivalent to 20 percent, is the highest in the region, surpassing that of Mexico, Brazil and Chile”
President Fernández de Kirchner spoke about the contribution of the Industrial Sector to GDP and how it compares to other countries in the region. The data, taken from the ECLAC database, confirms her statement. The indicator used by the president refers to the contribution to the GDP of manufacturing industry only, just as ECLAC measures it in other countries in the region. This measurement is different from that used by the World Bank, which includes not only manufacturing industry but also electricity, gas and water provision and the mining and construction sectors. In the case of this second indicator, Argentina has an Industrial Value-Added/GDP of 28.5 percent, below the 35.3 percent of Chile and 34.8 percent of Mexico, and above the 25 percent of Brazil for 2013.