Argentina in the 21st Century

Argentina in the 21st Century

South America

At the turn of the 21st century, Argentina was going through a profound crisis: he saw the political and economic model which, launched in 1989 by the President of the Republic, the Peronist C. Menem, had characterized the country for about a decade, shattered. It was a neoliberal model supported by the great economic and financial powers at home and abroad, particularly in the United States. If this model, through the parity of the peso with the US dollar, had defeated the endemic inflation and brought a marked improvement in the living conditions of the middle classes, it had its strong point in privatization and above all in the constant flow of foreign capital. and not in the development of internal resources (the country underwent a real process of deindustrialization, and the major banks passed into foreign hands). The years between 1999 and 2003 represented the most delicate phase: the country suffered a drastic reduction in gross domestic product (GDP), declared itself insolvent with respect to international creditors, witnessed a succession over the course of a year, between 2001 and 2002, of five presidents of the Republic and six ministers of the economy, was crossed by violent street demonstrations, saw a large part of the middle classes reduced to poverty (according to international estimates, 50% of the population was below the poverty line). Only since 2004, albeit with many uncertainties and unresolved problems, the Argentina he seemed to find a stable institutional set-up and a renewed confidence in his possibilities. The Argentine crisis, if it had its true origin in the policies of the Menem government, nevertheless manifested itself during the presidency of F. de la Rúa, candidate of the center-left Alliance, elected in 1999. De la Rúa had presented himself with a program focused on the fight against corruption and unemployment, on limiting the profits of large private monopolies, on reviving the economy in a framework that still maintained some of the main lines, of a liberal imprint, of the economic policy of his predecessor. In fact, the first measures to revive the economy were of a liberal sign (May 2000). These choices, conditionally imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the granting of a new loan, damaged the solidity of the coalition and led to electoral defeat.

The economic situation worsened dramatically in the final part of the year: in December 2000, the new measures launched to avoid insolvency in the payment of foreign debt, which included, among other things, the cutting of pensions and salaries of the public service and the freezing of bank deposits, provoked a real social revolt. Alongside the poorest sectors of the population, who ransacked shops and supermarkets and set fire to banks and public offices, were citizens belonging to large sectors of the middle class. The repression of the police (with dozens of deaths) and the proclamation of a state of emergency did not stop the protests, which forced de la Rúa to resign (December 20), opening a very serious political crisis. A phase of profound uncertainty followed, in which three presidents followed one another until the appointment of Senator EA Duhalde (January 2002). Among the first measures of the new president, who led a government of national unity, there were: the abandonment of the peso-dollar equivalence established by the 1991 convertibility law, the devaluation of 30% of the currency in the controlled exchange rate set by the state for imports of essential goods, the increase in the maximum withdrawal ceiling from bank accounts, the distribution of basic necessities to the population. The government also managed to obtain from the IMF an extension until August 2003 of the payment of interest on foreign debt. The Argentine crisis had an extensive international response, which involved large foreign investors but also many small savers who bought bonds issued by the state (bonds). In an attempt to restore legitimacy to the presidential institution, Duhalde announced in July 2002 his intention to step down and call new elections. These, held in April 2003, saw Menem’s return to the political scene in the first round. The latter collected the relative majority, with about 24% of the votes, followed by NC Kirchner, with 22%, but the second round did not take place due to the withdrawal of Menem, underdog in the polls. For Argentina 2009, please check hyperrestaurant.com.

The new president Kirchner started an organic program of interventions. First, after refusing to pay the interest rate on the debt to the IMF, it renegotiated the foreign debt and reached an agreement in stages (2003-2005) with the majority of international creditors. Secondly, a moderate but decisive intervention by the state in the economy resumed, with both business development aid and investments in the education and health sectors. The measures of an economic nature were accompanied by acts of strong political and symbolic value, also aimed at building consensus around a president who was de facto elected by a minority of Argentines. Among the most significant was the removal from the army of soldiers involved with the past dictatorship. Presidential elections were held in October 2007: Kirchner decided not to run again and to support the candidacy of his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who was elected in the first round with about 45% of the votes (Argentine law provides that 40% of votes, with a gap of at least ten points on the second candidate is sufficient to proclaim the winner). The new president, who took office in December, he set himself in a declared line of continuity with the policy of his predecessor, but in an economic context that saw a slowdown in growth and the reappearance of inflationary phenomena. The taxes on exports, decided on the basis of the extraordinary profits made in the agricultural sector, aroused a decisive discontent among the producers’ associations, which promoted a strong mobilization of the streets starting from spring 2008, to which the president responded by reiterating her choices (June) and finding broad popular support. This political approach provoked a bitter clash with the powerful Clarín publishing group, owner, among other things, of the most popular daily newspaper in Argentina, which has always been anti-Peronist and conservative. In October 2010, N. Kirchner, who had been elected deputy in the province of Buenos Aires in 2009, died.

Argentina in the 21st Century