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Newly Elected Argentinian President Mauricio Macri Trapped «In the Net» of Populism

Strategic Culture Foundation

November 29, 2015

By Nil Nikandrov

From left: Presidents Evo Morales, Bolivia; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina; José Mujica, Uruguay; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil; and Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela, in 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.)

From left: Presidents Evo Morales, Bolivia; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina; José Mujica, Uruguay; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil; and Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela, in 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.)

Mauricio  Macri, the newly elected President of Argentina, will take the office on 10 December. This Liberal-Conservative politician, the leader of Republican Proposal (Spanish: Propuesta Republicana, PRO), a center-right political party, has won as a result of a fierce battle with Daniel Osvaldo Scioli, the candidate from the Front for Victory, the ruling left-wing Peronist electoral alliance.

Neither candidate managed to win the vote outright, forcing a run-off – the first in the country’s history. Macri won 51.4 per cent of the vote to 48.5 percent for ruling party rival Daniel Scioli. The gap is narrow, but Argentinian channels and radio stations were biased predicting the Macri’s victory from the very start of the race.

Daniel Scioli admitted defeat to his opponent even before the final count of the votes. «I respect the popular will, which has chosen an alternative», he said. Sciolli congratulated Mauricio Macri and his team on the victory and wished them good luck. He did not sound dramatic. The Front for Victory ruled the country for 12 years. Under the direction of Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and then his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007-2015) Argentina went through the difficulties inherited after the years of bloody military dictatorship and neoliberal experiments. The «kircherists» can be rightfully proud of their social-economic achievements and the fundamental and consistent policy aimed at protection of national interests.

The Mexican La Jornada editorial clearly explained what has recently happened in Argentina:

«The yesterday’s defeat should not be perceived as the refusal of Argentinians to do justice to the achievements of 2003-2015. It’s rather the result of internal and external factors that exist in the national context of the situation in the Western Hemisphere. Tycoons persistently tried to destabilize the governments led by the Kirschners, they were constantly under media attacks. Foreign interference also took place. And not only that. The powers that ran out of steam [el desgaste], the reduced demand for mineral resources led to economic slump, there were cases of corruption in the government… Experts agree that the triumph of Macri, as he moves to Casa Rosada [the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina – translator’s note], will bring the country back to neoliberal politics that resulted in devastation at the beginning of this century to spark a serious economic crisis undermining the government’s credibility and ability to govern».

Macri said he won the presidential race because the people were tired of economic and financial problems, the growing crime rate and corruption. Mass media echoed this thesis highlighting the results of the presidential race. What about the «new deal» promised by Macri in his victory speech? He is seasoned enough not to make any bombastic statements. Macri only called on Argentinians to work together joining efforts to meet the interests of the country and ensure a bright future. «This is the beginning of a new era that has to carry us toward the opportunities we need to grow and progress», Macri noted. Somehow, he left behind the populist mimicry actively used during the final stage of the race. Macri promised equal access to health care, free medicine for low-income seniors, the eradication of poverty, the creation of another one and a half million jobs and homes for all the needy.

In the victory speech Macri slightly mentioned the issue of overdue reforms, which would certainly spark social tensions, if implemented. The commercial and financial elite of Argentina, land owners, the military, a large part of middle class and the activists of non-government organizations expect Macri to do away with «populist structures». They want him to adopt more confrontational approaches and implement the policy of «open economy». Perhaps, the first thing he would do is the liberalization of currency market that would lead to devaluation of peso.

Macri promised to build Argentina with zero poverty, intensify the fight against drug trafficking and boost international cooperation to have good relationships with all countries. «We want to work with everyone. We know that the Argentine people have much to bring to the world», he said. It can be said now that Macri will not be able «to work with everyone». Not once he made unfriendly remarks toward the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro during the presidential race. The Macri’s meetings with Venezuelan opposition are used by US propaganda for subversive activities against the «Maduro regime». Macri continues to sound hostile towards the Venezuelan government after the race is over.

The newly elected president said he would propose that Mercosur, the trade bloc of South American nations, suspend Venezuela for its «undemocratic» actions against opposition politicians. What exactly does he mean? Some members of opposition took part in armed attacks. Over 40 people lost lives, as a result, including police. Obviously, the Macri’s statements are of provocative nature, because the Argentina’s neighbors, such as Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, as well as some other countries led by left wing democratic governments, will inevitably get involved in the conflict. As a result, the process of regional integration will be negatively affected at the time the region is going through hard times.

The ongoing financial and economic crisis has affected everyone. Macri will raise the stakes launching neoliberal reforms and inserting changes into the foreign policy. The support of the United States administration is guaranteed. Macri has been loyal since 2007 when he met Mike Matera, a CIA agent. Back then he called on the US embassy to take a tougher stand against then President Nestor Kirchner and then Christina Kirchner.

The new president of Argentina is a 100 percent pro-US politician. Some experts predict he won’t deteriorate the relations with Moscow and Beijing. These optimistic predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. Christina Fernandez and her government have done a lot to spur the progress in the Russia-Argentina relations and cement the bilateral strategic partnership as was agreed by the presidents of Russia and Argentina in April 2015.

It’s all in the past now. The situation has changed: Argentina, like other states led by left wing governments, is facing economic hardships. Its geopolitical position is negatively affected. For Macri, the cooperation with the United States is a natural thing to do. Some political scholars believe that the Macri’s win in Argentina ends the era of Christina Fernandez. On December 10, she’ll move out of the presidential palace. But it’s hard to imagine she’ll keep out of politics to become a passive bystander, especially now as the Sciolli suffered a defeat and the Front for Victory is in opposition.

Starting from December 10 President Macri will have to establish working relations with the opposition in the National Congress, where the Front for Victory and its allies dominate in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Argentine National Congress, and the Senate, the upper chamber of parliament. It’s hard to believe that Christina Fernandez and her supporters will let Macri destroy everything that has been created during so many years. A great effort was applied to ensure social stability, national progress and the well-being of the people. They won’t let it go down the drain. Any attempts «to cut» social benefits and state expenditure will spark mass protests.

The supporters of «Kircnerism» believe that shifting the foreign policy priorities is fraught with the loss of independence and national sovereignty. As Macri takes office, the Pacific Alliance and other geopolitical projects initiated and controlled by the United States will be given priority over other Latina American integration projects. Not «kircherists» only, but all those who support national interests, will fiercely oppose it.

 

Argentina: A Quiet Neoliberal Coup d’Etat in Latin America’s Southern Cone

Global Research

December 1, 2015

by Peter Koenig

Supporters of Daniel Scioli, the ruling party presidential candidate, watch a large screen at Plaza de Mayo square that broadcasts live statements from Scioli aid Diego Bossio about the presidential election results in Buenos Aires,  Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri took an early lead over the ruling party contender Daniel Scioli  in Sunday's historic runoff to pick a replacement for outgoing President Cristina Fernandez, who along with her late husband dominated Argentine politics for 12 years.(AP Photo/Ivan Fernandez)

Supporters of Daniel Scioli, the ruling party presidential candidate, watch a large screen at Plaza de Mayo square that broadcasts live statements from Scioli aid Diego Bossio about the presidential election results in Buenos Aires, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Fernandez)

 

For the past few weeks the world has been and still is focusing all attention on Syria, the NATO-Turkey downing of a Russian SU-24 fighter jet, the bombing of a Russian airliner over Sinai (224 dead), the alleged ISIS-Daesh Paris massacre (132), the Islamic terror attack on the Bamako (Mali) Radisson Blu hotel (27) – plus the endless fear mongering of more terror in Brussels, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Copenhagen — you name it. The mainstream media is in over-drive. And the neoliberal European (non)-Union uses the shock doctrine to cut civil rights and install police states with ‘temporary’ Martial laws – mind you, they are basically asked for by the populace – for their protection, they are made to believe.

Absorbed by their own fate and fear, Europeans have hardly eyes to see beyond their Continent, their sphere of self-interest. The neoliberal coup d’état in Argentina happened almost unnoticed. Never mind that it is just about bringing some 42.5 million people (2015 pop. estimate) under Washington’s rule.

Argentina’s general election 2015 ended on Sunday 22 November in a run-off – the first in Argentina’s history – between Daniel Scioli, the incumbent Governor of Buenos Aires Province, a Kirchnerite from the ruling Front for Victory Party (FPV – Frente para la Victoria), and Mauricio Macri, a neoliberal multi-billionaire and Mayor of Buenos Aires from the right-wing Cambiemos party. Against all odds, Macri won with 51.4% against Scioli’s 48.6% – a margin of 2.8%. A margin small enough no to raise many questions of fraud.

And here are the odds: Two days before the 25 October ballot The Guardian polls predicted an 8.5% lead for Scioli (38.41%) vs. Macri (30.07%). Nevertheless, the 25 October real election results reduced Scioli’s lead to a mere 2.4% (36.8% vs. 34.4%).

At the end of July, three months before the first election run, Scioli was leading with a 13.6% margin (38.8% vs. 25.2%). The outcome of the 9 August Primaries left Scioli still with a more than 12 point lead (36.8% vs 24.7%).

There is definitely something fishy with a deterioration of a candidate’s lead so crass as to convert an almost 14 point lead into a 3 point loss in 4 months, a 17% percent difference. This is not a typical pattern of error for pollsters, nor an indication for a public opinion change, a public that has benefited from their government to the extent Argentinians did within the last 15 years, since the economic collapse in 2001: An average annual growth of between 6% and 8%, a highly distributive economic development, helping reducing poverty from 65% in 2002 to less than 10% in early 2015 and with a massive increase in countrywide free education and health services, including in rural areas; not to mention the elimination of foreign debt.

A simple question of logic: Would a people of which 80% to 90% have massively benefited from the ruling government policies vote with more than 50% against the continuation of such policies – and instead for a neoliberal politician, who promised to turn the clock back? Hardly. Unless they have been subjected to a massive media brainwashing and slander campaign, vote buying and other democracy-destroying measures, through foreign induced destabilization.

We know about the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and other US based think tanks (sic), receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department to train and fund “NGOs” throughout the world, to infiltrate in counties’ internal affairs, where Washington wants to achieve soft regime change, as opposed to hard-core regime change – which involves the US military, proxy-armies, mercenaries and – of course – the ever present NATO. – So far the election fraud worked in Argentina without bloodshed.

Such destabilization movements, soft and less soft, abound around the globe during the last 20 years, coinciding with the ever stronger onset of the all controlling globalized neoliberal doctrine. Suffice it to mention the invented Arab Spring , the Color Revolutions of Central Asia and the former Soviet Republics. If propaganda alone doesn’t do the trick, the Washington imposed changes are being helped with false flags, inducing armed conflicts and ‘civil wars’. Recent cases in point are the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, to name just a few.

Argentina’s Constitution does not allow for more than two consecutive presidential terms. Before the mid-term elections in 2013, the ruling FPV hoped for a two third majority to be able to amend the Constitution allowing unlimited re-elections. Due to strong resistance from the opposition parties, the FPV did not win the necessary supermajority.

The president is elected with a modified two-stage system, whereby a candidate wins when he / she receives at least 45% in the first run, or 40% with a margin of at least 10% to the runner-up. A run-off election, like the one on 22 November 2015, has never happened before in Argentina’s history.

With a lead of more almost 14 points by Scioli over Macri, the right-wing Cambiemos candidate, it was absolutely necessary for the Macri camp to reduce the lead difference by the first round of balloting to less than 10% to provoke a run-off, allowing more time to manipulate voter opinion and committing more election fraud. Despite the polls indicating an 8.5% lead for Scioli two days before the 25 October first election run, the actual election count resulted in Scioli winning with only 2.4%. Again, this is an unusual margin of error that should have attracted the attention of the election organizers and supervisors.

In 2011 Wikileaks revealed that Mauricio Macri asked the US Embassy in Buenos Aires to launch a strong anti-Kirchner campaign, slandering her and her political alliances, thereby massively discrediting Cristina Kirchner’s Presidency. It did not work for Macri in 2011, as Cristina Kirchner was re-elected. But the Washington-driven anti-Kirchner and anti-FPV campaign expanded massively until this past election. And it paid off.

The international investigative journalist, Estela Calloni, who followed the elections closely, concluded that there was not only massive manipulation with lies and defamation by an important media elite, but a brutal campaign against the Kirchner legacy – ‘putting the future of Argentina at risk.’ She went on saying that ‘our societies are being hammered by information coming from the United States and that they are worse than disinformation.’ She warned that Argentina should stay alert not to lose any of the progressive achievements made in the past 15 years.

Who is Mauricio Macri? – He was born in 1959 into a family of owners of the country’s most important industrial and economic groups. In 1975, the Macri family possessed 7 enterprises; at the end of the military dictatorship the Macri fleet of companies had grown to 46. The Macri family benefited greatly from business relations with the totalitarian military government of Videla. In connivance with US banks, they built up false debt which later had to be assumed by the Argentine government.

Nevertheless, the new President-elect in one of his recent observations has insisted that the Kirchner Government reopen negotiations with the IMF and pay the infamous vulture funds in full.

As Mayor of the City of Buenos Aires, Macri leaves behind a highly questionable legacy; mismanagement of public funds, huge budget overruns and never ending public works. He has also allegedly diverted public funds into his political campaigns and accepted contributions from prostitution rings.

Mr. Macri is known as an extreme conservative, right-wing politician following neoliberal policies, who will most likely turn the wheel of progress of the Kirchner Administration back by seeking reduction of public expenditures to the detriment of labor, privatization of public services and ending fiscal policies aiming at redistribution of wealth.

As to Mr. Macri’s views on human rights, it can best be described by his observation in 2014, “Conmigo se termina el curro de los derechos humanos” – “with me the chants of ‘human rights’ will end;” – meaning that protests against his government will be repressed.

South America had proudly achieved over the past 20 years a degree of independence from its Washington masters, no other western region has reached – least the vassal states of Europe. With this neoliberal, largely unnoticed coup d’état in Argentina, the Subcontinent of South America, is, indeed, gradually turning into what President Obama calls his ‘backyard’. In the Center-North are Peru and Colombia, neoliberal strongholds of the US; and now the Southern Cone is gone.

All the while the Great Dictator and its paid foreign minions are diligently working at discrediting the Governments of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela, and of Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil; the former with infiltrated and local mercenaries spreading unrest and violence; the latter with defamation of corruption linked to the oil giant Petrobras, all manufactured via henchmen and associated banks in Florida and New York. Corruption is always an easy accusation – difficult to prove, yet very effective with the common people – in discrediting their government. An accusation coming from the most corrupt, criminal rogue state of this globe – the United States of America.

 

 

[Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, CounterPunch, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance]

Bloomberg: Argentina Fever Is Back for Investors Who’ve Waited 14 Years

 
by Katia Porzecanski and Carolina Millan
Argentina

Above: Devastated supporters of Mr Scioli (Reuters)

-Macri Victory Sparks Argentina’s Economic Optimism

-Kirchner rival, Macri, defeats pro-government candidate Scioli

-Zucaro: “We’re super positioned here, long and strong”

Sunday’s election of opposition candidate Mauricio Macri marks a moment investors have been waiting for in Argentina for a long time.

In the 14 years since the country carried out the biggest default the world had ever seen, international investors watched an economy that had long been one of their favorites turn into a pariah in global capital markets. Under the Kirchners — first Nestor and then his wife, Cristina — Argentina became best known for its byzantine foreign-exchange system, the seizure of privately-owned assets and the under-reporting of inflation.

All that could change now. Macri, a 56-year-old Buenos Aires native, is pledging to quickly reverse much of the Kirchners’ policies and open up an economy that’s posting back-to-back years of almost zero growth.

Investor excitement is tangible, a rarity nowadays in a region that’s suddenly fallen out of favor. Companies, including Germany’s BayWa AG and Brazil’s BRF SA, are prepping to expand their presence in the country and Argentina’s benchmark stock index soared more than 30 percent in the past three months as traders anticipated a Macri victory. Even the country’s defaulted debt — the government fell back into default last year on legal grounds stemming from the 2001 debacle — has been rallying, with prices on benchmark bonds climbing well over par value. Eager to reinsert the country in foreign markets, Macri has said that settling the old debts will be a top priority after he’s sworn in as president on Dec. 10.

“We are optimistic,” said Jody LaNasa, the founder of the $1.5 billion hedge fund Serengeti Asset Management, which owns Argentine securities. “The question is whether this is going to be something like the rebirth of Argentina or another failed dream that people get excited about, but then they can’t overcome the challenges.”

The challenges indeed are substantial: foreign reserves are at a nine-year low; prices on the country’s commodity exports are depressed; the budget deficit is soaring to the widest in three decades; and inflation, as tallied by private economists, is running at an annual pace of more than 20 percent.

Macri’s victory over the pro-government candidate, Daniel Scioli, is seen in part as an expression of Argentines’ frustration with the economy under the Kirchners. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Macri, a two-term mayor of Buenos Aires and wealthy businessman, had 51.4 percent of the votes while Scioli took 48.6 percent. Minutes after Scioli conceded the race, Macri told his supporters that “a wonderful new stage begins for Argentina.”…

This is not the first time, of course, that foreign investors have piled into Argentina. In a country that was once one of the world’s richest (back around the turn of the 20th century), there have been countless booms and busts. Most recently, the nation became the darling of the investing world in the 1990s, when President Carlos Menem tamed hyperinflation, sold off state assets and opened up the economy….There’s no shortage of big-name investors — George Soros, Daniel Loeb and Richard Perry, to name a few — betting on him successfully resolving the debt dispute and regaining access to international credit markets.

Read the full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-23/argentina-fever-is-back-for-investors-after-a-wait-of-14-years

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