It may have been the greatest failure of the political coalition that embodies Sergio Massa and Gerardo Morales. Or the acceptance that those two important politicians (one Peronist and president of the Chamber of Deputies, the other governor and president of the radical party) are powerless before the political decisions of Cristina Kirchner. As powerless as the chancellor santiago cafiero to explain to his North American peer, Antony Blink, a foreign policy that always embraces lost causes. Those two, Massa and Morales, had been working for several days on the meeting between the Minister of Economy and the leaders of the opposition Together for Change, a meeting that Cristina always rejected. The vice president is a politician who prefers and longs for confrontations; He has no spirit to dialogue with anyone, not even with those in his own coalition. Both she and her husband maintained from their accession to power that speaking with the opposition was giving it a platform to criticize the government. Strictly speaking, everything that was said in recent days was a political creation (perhaps fanciful) by Massa in his dialogues with Morales, although the President himself must be included in this mistaken strategy, who endorsed, in part at least, the negotiations of the head of the Chamber of Deputies.
The Minister of Economy also had his gestural role, Martin Guzman, who he preferred to see Cristina Kirchner at the very moment the supposed meeting that never took place collapsed. The ambitious Guzmán felt that he should opt for Massa or Cristina and he chose the one who assures him one more time in the main armchair of the Palacio de Hacienda. But is it also the one that guarantees an agreement of the official policy to agree with the Monetary Fund? Cristina is silent and, sometimes, explains exotic theories. Yesterday’s letter is proof of his aversion to the agreement, after having chosen other theatrical forms of silence. It is an important question, unanswered, that the opposition asks: Does the vice president want a pact with the IMF or does she prefer a break to make a good impression with the gathering of her literary café? Is it paranoid to assume that the vice president seeks to be the head of the opposition to the agreement if Together for Change signs an eventual agreement with the multilateral organization? They are only rhetorical questions, because they refer to an unlikely situation at the moment.
They ensure that their own Alberto Fernandez He walked away from the meeting with his opponents when he warned that it would happen on the same day that Foreign Minister Cafiero met with the US Secretary of State, Blinken. The opposition might be respectful, but it would never come out applauding Guzmán. Blinken would have received Cafiero in the midst of harsh opposition criticism of the government’s economic policy.
However, this point of view exhibits a very short look at the relationship of the Argentine government with the administration of Joe Biden. It is true that the United States has a sufficient percentage of votes in the IMF board to block the approval of any draft agreement, even if the rest of the countries vote in favor. That is called the right to veto. And it is more true that a flexible position in Washington has a significant influence on the position of the other countries that are part of the Fund’s board of directors. But Cafiero’s problem is not with his Argentine opponents, but with the very government he represents. Although subsequent statements have predictably been diplomatic, Blinken is not indifferent to the bizarre twists and turns of Argentine foreign policy.
While senior Washington officials criticized the regime that governs Nicaragua, an Argentine representative was at the resumption of Daniel Ortega; that Latin American dictator imprisoned all the candidates who competed against him for the presidency. Even the exquisite Nicaraguan writing Sergio Ramirez, exiled from the Ortega couple, was surprised in an article published in the Spanish newspaper El País by the coexistence on the same platform of the Argentine ambassador in Managua, Daniel Captainich, and the Iranian Vice President, Mohsen Rezai, accused of having participated intellectually and financially in the criminal attack against the AMIA in 1994. Ramírez was even more surprised by the subsequent declaration of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, which lamented Rezai’s presence in that extravagant act. “A lament, not a protest,” Ramírez stressed.
Those are also the surprises that abound in the State Department, led by Blinken, as stupefied as Ramírez by the diplomatic contortions of the Argentine government.
Much more unlikely is that the US foreign minister is indifferent to the fact that Alberto Fernández has chosen just now to travel to Moscow to visit Russian despot Vladimir Putin. To thank him for the provision of a vaccine that was paid for at a good price and that Argentines cannot exhibit in any Western country? It is not approved by the World Health Organization or by the European drug regulatory body (EMA) or by its North American counterpart (FDA). The favor Putin owes to Alberto Fernández for having relied on such a little comparable vaccine.
In any case, the current crisis of the main Western countries with Putin is not due to the vaccine, but due to the Russian leader’s failure to annex Ukraine to Russia. He is carrying out monumental military maneuvers on Russia’s very border with Ukraine, from which Crimea has already taken out. Biden said that an eventual Russian military invasion of Ukraine it would be an irreversible crossing of a red line by Putin. Ukraine is, for geographical reasons, more of a European issue than an American one. For this reason, the concern also encompasses the most important European countries, such as Germany, France and Great Britain. Never since the Cold War has there been a situation of extreme tension between the West and Moscow like the one that exists now. It is the moment (opportune?) that Alberto Fernández chose to take a tour of Moscow. The condition of “partner and friend”, according to Blinken’s description, is far from Albertian pirouettes.
The trip to Moscow will take place in the first days of February. Official versions indicate that at the end of January the Government would begin to “exchange” opinions with the technical staff of the Fund and that, if these conversations advance, the local administration could write a letter of intent in February. The letter of intent must then be approved by the general director of the organization, Kristalina Georgieva, and later by the Fund’s board, where Washington’s vote will be key. The doubts consist of whether these versions are as serious as the guarantees that both Massa and Alberto Fernández gave Gerardo Morales about the government’s meeting with the opposition. Morales demanded from the President, in a telephone dialogue managed by Massa, that this meeting be held with the governors and parliamentary leaders of the opposition in Congress. The head of state assured him that he would personally see to it that this was done, and Massa even asked Morales for the complete list of the parliamentary heads of Together for Change.. After the presidential spokeswoman, Gabriela Cerruti, said that there was no meeting scheduled with the opposition, the talks between Morales and Massa became frantic. Massa assured the governor of Jujuy that Cerruti’s assertions were only intended to mislead the unwary. But then it was Massa himself who clarified to Morales that the meeting would be held at the Ministry of Economy and that its head, Guzmán, had nothing more to say than what he had already told the opposition governors.. That meeting with the provincial leaders was a failure due to the emptiness of Guzmán’s presentation. To all this, there was until then (there never was) any formal call to the opposition beyond the promises of days and hours that Massa made through Morales. On Sunday afternoon, the main opposition leaders decided that they would not go to any meeting with the government under such conditions and that they would do so, if at all, only when a letter of intent addressed to the Fund had been drawn up.
The problem is that Alberto Fernández decided to innovate and, as usual, he innovated poorly. By a law of its creation, the letter of intent to the Fund must be approved by Congress before it reaches the agency’s board. That is absolutely new. From Raúl Alfonsín to Mauricio Macri, passing through Néstor Kirchner himself, they reserved negotiations and agreements (or disagreements) with the Monetary Fund for the Executive Power. The current president imagined it as a great idea to bring a project according to the approval of both chambers of Congress. Will the legislators decide the monetary policy, the eventual devaluation and the level of issuance? Will they have to endorse the necessary adjustments in public spending to lower the fiscal deficit? If so, it is most likely that there will be no agreement with the Fund. What the Government will send to Congress will be a list of populist desires, not a catalog of practical solutions. In the essential book Juan Carlos Torre (Diary of a season on the fifth floor, Editorial Edhasa) is exposed, without opinion and without adjectives, the impotence of politicians to understand the reasons for the economy. That book is a biography of Argentine democracy, because the problems of 38 years ago are still the same, although the author published only the diaries he kept during the administration of Juan Sourrouille as Minister of Economy. There is the ineptitude of politics in the face of the economy, the inability to reach basic agreements, the overestimation of party balances over the most urgent problems of the country, and the privilege of politics to epic projects when the country is going through desert. Are we talking about now? Yes, but also from more than three decades ago.
The Government and the opposition will clash in the coming weeks over another issue: the new integration of the Judicial Council, which, according to a decision of the Supreme Court, must be in force on April 15. The Government has already sent its project to the Senate, where it will surely get a couple of friends to approve it. The real debate will take place, as always, in the Chamber of Deputies, where Mario Negri presented another project that respects the number of members of the Council that existed before the integration was modified by the then senator Cristina Kirchner. Cristina’s integration is the one that has just been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Negri’s project foresees, among other things, a Council with 20 members without an absolute majority for anyone and with the permanent presidency of the head of the Supreme Court. This is how it was until Cristina cleaned up that integration with a stroke of the pen. Such ideas of the opposition explain the act to “throw out” the Court scheduled by Luís D’Elía and Hugo Moyano for February 1. Alberto Fernández reneged on his promise to meet with the opposition, just as he assured Gerardo Morales. But at the same time it was known that he received D’Elía in Olivos on December 29 last. Not even D’Elía’s pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic condition stopped the photographer from immortalizing that unique and explicit moment. Massa and Gerardo Morales imagine a country that does not exist.