Kirchner stands by decision not to run

She described IMF-Argentina agreements as “inflationary” and called for renegotiation

Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner stood by her decision not to run in this year’s presidential elections at the inauguration of the Justicialist Néstor Kirchner school in the city of La Plata today.

She gave a master class about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Argentina, excoriating IMF agreements as “inflationary,” but even before she set foot in the auditorium there were chants of “Cristina, presidenta!” calling for her candidacy.

“Calm down, calm down,” she said before starting her speech, telling her supporters “don’t do your curls,” a Spanish idiom referring to not getting your hopes up or getting ahead of yourself. “I’ve told you many times already.” 

When similar cheers went up towards the end of her speech, she said “No, no, no, ‘presidenta,’ no.”

“Look, it’s no coincidence that there is only one political leader who was condemned, banned from participating in elections and that someone tried to murder,” Kirchner said. In a clear reference to libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei, she mentioned “jerks” who say career politicians like her —which he refers to as “the caste”— are scared. 

“What would we be afraid of you for? Nothing ever happened to you, brother. Who is afraid of you? The nerve!”

This apparent confirmation of her decision —alluding to the assassination attempt against her and attacks against her children as possible motivation— makes her the third former president to withdraw from the elections. Former President Mauricio Macri announced his decision not to run in March and incumbent President Alberto Fernández (no relation to Kirchner) withdrew his candidacy last week — both with videos published to their social media.

Kirchner first announced in December last year that she would not run following the Vialidad ruling that sentenced her to six years in prison and a prospective lifetime ban from holding public office for fraudulently awarding public works contracts during her terms as president. 

Her lawyers appealed the ruling this week. She is still legally allowed to run for office until all instances of appeal have been exhausted.

Despite that public decision, there have been continuous calls from her supporters and prominent politicians for that potential ban to be lifted for her to run — Buenos Aires province Governor Axel Kicillof spoke at a protest against the Supreme Court last week calling for the end of Argentina’s “judicial mafia” responsible for the ruling.

Describing Milei as “hairy” and lambasting him for having nothing to be afraid of wasn’t the only moment Kirchner mentioned the far-right politician in her speech today.

Economy: dollarization, history and IMF

During her speech, CFK spoke against Milei’s proposal for “dollarizing” the Argentine economy. Without explicitly naming him, CFK compared the far-right candidate’s proposal to the “convertibility plan,” a law that pegged the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar that was enforced from 1991 to 2002.

“Dead people, violence, repression. That is the story of the convertibility. That is the story of dollarization,” she said, referring to the 2001 protests where 39 civilians were killed by security forces, ending with then-President Fernando de la Rúa’s resignation and a severe socioeconomic collapse.

The vice president said that dollarization is not exactly the same as convertibility, but “something much worse” since Argentina, if the peso is abolished, would not have any monetary policy.

She also criticized, without naming them, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich, the two presidential candidates of the PRO opposition party, reminding her audience that they both were part of De la Rúa’s government.

“Is it possible that we are discussing something that failed twenty years ago?”.

Fernández also spoke about the current program with the IMF, which it signed with the government in 2022 after renegotiating the US$44 billion debt Macri acquired in 2018. The deal includes an economic program that Argentina must comply with in order to receive disbursements every three months, which are used to pay for the previous debt with the IMF.

The program includes a target for fiscal deficit, which the government must decrease every year. 

“Last year, we overcomplied with the IMF’s fiscal deficit goal. And inflation soared nevertheless,” she said, and accused the program of being “inflationary”.

“No good Argentine can ignore the weight that the return of the IMF means for the country. TheIMF’s policies have not worked anywhere in the world.”

Kirchner also said that theagreement forbade the Central Bank from intervening in the foreign exchange market to suffocate currency runs, something that Economy Minister Sergio Massa did this week nevertheless. The deal with the IMF is currently being renegotiated.

“It’s necessary to revise it. Nobody is saying that we should not pay,” she said. “What we want is the conditions to be revised.”

“In the future, we will have to discuss that we pay to the fund with percentages of the trade surplus, as those are the only dollars we produce,” she said.

Kirchner insisted on the idea of a “government program,” and a “political working group” that includes businesspeople to discuss the exit to what she describes as a “bi-monetary” and dollarized economy. The vice-president also said that wealth distribution is failing in the current government as there are “registered workers under poverty,” a phenomenon that she described as new.

“I fear that my grandchildren will live in a country that is so unfair and unequal. I already lived, I gave everything I had to give.”

The school that Kirchner inaugurated aims to train political leaders: organizers played a video at the start of the event featuring speeches by former Presidents Juan Perón and Néstor Kirchner calling to “build a future.” 

“Néstor is not dead, he is alive in the people,” the audience chanted.

The inauguration was held on the 20th anniversary of Kirchner’s husband, Néstor, winning the general election of 2003.

Written by Facundo Iglesia & Valen Iricibar


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