Sunday, March 20, 2016

Argentine President Mauricio Macri

Argentine President Mauricio Macri gave an interview on public television On March 20 to journalists from several different news organizations about his first 100 days as President.

Los primeros 100 días - 20-03-2016 (1 de 3):

Los primeros 100 días - 20-03-2016 (2 de 3):

Los primeros 100 días - 20-03-2016 (3 de 3):

The questioners for TV Pública Argentina were Jorge Fernández Díaz of La Nación, the traditional press of the oligarchy, and the conservative Radio Mitre; Fabiana Dal Prá of Canal 12 de Córdoba (Macri: "El reclamo del interior por las tarifas es justo"), who declared in one of her questions that she has "faith" in Macri; Omar Nóblega of Canal 10 de Tucumán; Fernando Gonzáles, Director of El Cronista (Macri justificó el ajuste en el Estado: “Lo que hemos hecho es un mínimo emprolijamiento”); Valeria Cavallo, Director of InfoBAE; and, Ricardo Carpena, Vice President of Telam (Mauricio Macri: "No queremos que haya más impunidad en la Argentina").

Presumably timed around Obama's upcoming visit to Argentina, 60 Minutes also presented an interview with Macri: Leslie Stahl, Argentina's new president on rebuilding his country, and quickly 03/20/2016. It's a real puff piece.

Obama is scheduled to visit Argentina next Wednesday and Thursday, March 23-24.

Mauricio Macri comes across in public much like Mitt Romney, a trust fund baby who was born on third base and thinks he's hit a triple. His party is called the PRO and his electoral and legislative coalition is based on the Union Cívica Radical (UCR). Despite being one of Argentina's two official social democratic parties, the UCR is the political vehicle for the Argentine oligarchy and stone-conservative in its policies. He was also backed by a conservative splinter faction of the Peronist movement, the Frente Renovador headed by Sergio Massa.

The traditional oligarchy of Argentina is centered on agribusiness, dominated by big producers. Macri in his TV Pública Argentina interview offers his homage of fealty to that oligarchy here, saying, "El primer gran motor que tiene la Argentina es el campo" "The first grand [economic] motor that Argentina has is the country [agribusiness]."

During his first 100 days, Macri has implemented a standard neoliberal/Washington Consensus program, the type of which the IMF is so fond. He dropped capital and import/export controls that Cristina Fernández' preceding left-Peronist government had used to promote the development of domestic Argentine industry. He also did a drastic revaluation of the currency which has produced inflation in the 30% range. And he basically caved in to the US vulture funds over their blackmail of Argentina over defaulted debt that they bought up after it defaulted. Argentina will now have to issue large amounts of debt to pay the vulture funds.

All these actions Macri justified by claiming the previous government had produced a crisis. A standard "shock doctrine" approach. But Macri's measures really are the kinds of policies that brought on the very real crisis of 2001-2.

In discussing Obama, he mainly gives a marketing pep talk about Argentina's participation in global markets. He sings the praises of education in the neoliberal sense of making education sound like the solution to all economic problems.

Macri strikes a more friendly posture toward the United States than CFK did, mainly because he signs on fully to the Washington Consensus in economic policy. But also because his government is the kind of conservative government friendly to global corporations even at the expense of their own people that the Obama Administration prefers in Latin America. And which a President Hillary Clinton would also prefer. And Macris is not likely to express solidarity with other left-leaning Latin American governments under pressure by America to install a conservative one more on the model of Macri's. Ecuadoran President Correa is even talking about a new Plan Cóndor directed by the United States. (Correa alerta de un nuevo "Plan Cóndor" en Suramérica TeleSUR 19.03.2016)

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por teleSUR bajo la siguiente dirección: Si piensa hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y coloque un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido.

Macri was vague about the multifaceted investigation into the still-unsolved AMIA bombing of 1994, which he basically just said would continue. This has long been a never-ending sore point for Argentina, because the United States and Israel adopted the idea of Iran being behind the bombing as an example of how dangerous Iran is and how it could successfully project power via acts of terrorism far away from its borders. Argentina's official theory of the case is still that Iranian actors were behind it. But it never has been proven, so far as what's in the public record.

Macri accuses the Cristina's government of trying to impose a unified opinion on the country, which is just a ridiculous charge.

He passed off criticism of his inflation policies by saying he's trying to fix a lot of problems, "a very big crisis," and it's hard at first. He assured his listeners that things will get better. He flat-out blamed inflation on the previous government for inflating the money supply, a typical hack argument. He also blamed it on inflationary taxation. Reducing the federal deficit is his solution to lowering inflation.

But he protests a bit too much, going on and on about how bad inflation is and how it hurts everybody, as though he is trying to pose on the side of the people who are criticizing the inflation his own shock-doctrine policies has generated.

"Inflation is the greatest demonstration of lack of respect a government can show its people," he says. Argentina has seen far too many examples in the last half-century of far worse ways a government can show a lack of respect for its people.

He emphasizes the need for every Argentine company to produce as cheaply as they can, i.e., the neoliberal lodestar of low wages. Which his devaluation policy has already gone a big step toward producing via the effects of sudden and rapid inflation. Companies are allowed to raise prices, but wages and salaries have not been adjusted commensurately. Macri's government dropped the previous administration's price control measures. Macri brushed off a question from Fernando Gonzáles about whether there be sanctions on companies that raise prices too much.

But he promises more growth. Of course.

For the upcoming months, Macri expects the Confidence Fairy to arrive, when his neoliberal economic measures conjures up "confidence," somehow, some way.

It will be interesting to see how the White House spins Obama's visit to Argentina. In the context, it's hard to see it as anything but a clear indication of his approval of Macri's Herbert Hoover approach to economic policy. But it is also part of the US pushback against democratically elected left governments in Latin America by the President whose administration looked favorably on a real coup in Honduras and a "soft coup" in Paraguay. It's probably also a slap at the current left-leaning government in Brazil. (See: Glenn Greenwald et al, Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy The Intercept 03/18/2016)

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