President Alberto Fernández gave his fourth and final speech at the 78th United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, with a primary focus on international finances and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The international financial system shows no willingness to adapt to a world that wants to regain lost equity. On the contrary, it seeks only to impose the same orthodox policies,” he said. “How do we achieve sustainable development without financing that helps to do so? It’s time to promote social justice in the world.”
The president specifically talked about IMF surcharges applied to debtor countries, and suggested that a new framework for addressing sovereign debt was needed with “development and social justice as the north star.”
“The IMF can’t increase its interest every time the United States Federal Reserve increases its rates to contain their country’s inflation,” Fernández said. “It’s embarrassing that even today surcharges are applied to many countries which already find the burden of foreign debt unbearable.”
Since March 2022, Argentina has been under a 30-month arrangement with the Fund for US$44 billion, after the government renegotiated the debt then-president Mauricio Macri assumed in 2018.
The IMF’s surcharges, which Fernández mentioned, represent an increase in a debt’s interest rate when a country takes a loan that exceeds its allowed quota by at least 187.5%. For Argentina, whose obligations to the agency are an equivalent of 1000% of its quota, it represents a duplication of the debt’s interests or some US$1 billion a year.
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Fernández also touched on human rights, highlighting UNESCO’s decision earlier on Tuesday to declare the museum and memory site at Argentina’s former Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA, by its Spanish initials) a World Heritage site. The ESMA was the largest clandestine torture and extermination center during the country’s last dictatorship.
“I am proud of the four decades of uninterrupted democracy in which the promotion and protection of human rights have been a fundamental part of our journey,” he said. “By keeping the memory that denialists want to hide alive we will avoid that era of pain from repeating itself.”
Fernández reminded the terrorist attack against the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, which killed 29 and wounded 242 in 1992, and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Centre, which left 85 and over 300 injured.
“We want the people responsible for those outrageous attacks to be identified, judged and condemned,” he said, demanding that Iran cooperate with Argentine authorities in the investigation. In 2006, an Argentine court accused Tehran of being behind the AMIA bombing and indicted some senior Iranian officials for the attack.
Fernández asked for international cooperation, calling on countries to avoid harboring those indicted for the attacks. He also mentioned that there are arrest warrants and Interpol red alerts over them.
At the end of his speech, Fernández reaffirmed Argentina’s “legitimate sovereignty rights over the Malvinas islands and lamented that the United Kingdom “continues to refuse to renew negotiations” according to UN resolutions by the Special Committee on Decolonization.
The UK refers to the islands as the Falkland Islands, but this name is strongly contested by Argentina.
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