If something became clear in the last 48 hours, it is that the main obstacle that Alberto Fernández encounters to achieve his goals is called Cristina Kirchner. With scarcely two moves, she spoiled the last initiatives that the President had undertaken in the laborious attempt to approach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
The Casa Rosada had planned all the details to present the foreign minister’s meeting as a significant advance santiago cafiero with the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blink. At 5:47 PM Cafiero boasted via Twitter of the result of that meeting. At 6:30 p.m. the message would be overshadowed by a coarse and sly tweet, in which the vice president compared the Covid pandemic with the “macrista pandemic.” The message included, as always, the accusation to the Fund of having lent money to Mauricio Macri to “save his government and help him win the elections.” Blinken would give his version of the meeting on the same social network at 7:30 PM. In Argentina, it was already late.
Fernández’s other objective, on the same Tuesday, was exhibit some degree of consensus with the opposition to display in front of the Background. The meeting that was going to be held with legislators and governors of Together for Change served that purpose. The manager most committed to that meeting was Gerardo Morales, president of radicalism, governor of Jujuy and permanent ally of Sergio Massa. While Morales worked with the zeal of an official, the Minister of the Interior arrived in Jujuy, Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro, and the Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity, Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, to visit the miracle room. The meeting with the imprisoned social leader was held, according to the two ministers, “to rebuild a Justice that does not persecute opponents.” De Pedro explicitly linked the Sala situation with the maneuvers against the trade unionist Juan Pablo “Pata” Medina, recorded in a video made by the AFI during the Macri administration. If you take into account De Pedro’s very close relationship with the vice president, it is unimaginable that she was not aware of that trip. More: it is possible to think that it was carried out by order of her.
There is a paradox in this Jujuy saga. The same “Wado” De Pedro who traveled to denounce Morales, was the one who transferred the most funds to that opposition province, by way of Contributions from the National Treasury, during the electoral campaign. Some radical leaders attribute it to the friendship that both share with Facundo Manes. Others in the vicinity of the consultant Gaston Douek, partner of Guillermo Seita, with the minister and with the neurologist. Seita, advisor to Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, from John Schiaretti and of Omar Perotti, for a few weeks he has boasted in front of some businessmen: “I already have another candidate for President on my list.” Talk about Peter. Premature speculation, such as the one that associates in a new alliance, for 2023, the President with Axel Kicillo.
Beyond these trifles, Mrs. Kirchner, crouched, sows inconveniences the path of Fernández. By affirming that the IMF loan was only intended to offer Macri an electoral aid, he is accusing the main inspirer of that operation: David Lipton, current adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, in the negotiation with Argentina.. The vice president’s argument is not new. She questions the legitimacy of the debt in political terms, just like her husband, when in 2005 she discussed a program with the Fund, alleging that the agency should take responsibility for having tolerated convertibility.
The statement issued by the Secretary of State, like Blinken from his Twitter account, was quite clear. He congratulated Argentina for chairing the UN Human Rights Commission, celebrating sharing the effort in this matter, in the region and outside it. He was spared, of course, congratulating Fernández for presiding over CELAC. In addition, in reference to the negotiations with the Fund, encouraged the country to have an economic policy that recovers growth. In a simple reading, it is the conventional phrase issued by governments in similar circumstances. Or American officials, on previous occasions. Can you wish for something different? A more detailed reading, which perhaps overinterprets the message, would point out that Blinken does not adhere to the official thesis, according to which Argentina is already growing and programs that block that revival must be avoided. The third concept: a condemnation of the presence of the Iranian Mohsen Rezai in the resumption of Daniel Ortega In Nicaragua.
The Government allowed its hubbub to transcend for having won political backing for the agreement with the Fund. Now only the technical details would remain.. That presentation involves a delicate error. What requires political backing is technical understanding. If not yet reached, the statements are courtesy gestures. On the other hand, this political approval corresponds, in the case of the United States, to the Secretary of the Treasury. Not to the State Department. And the Secretary of the Treasury, where the reviled Lipton works, is ironclad.
The professional quality of the program is the key to the problem. It was clear in the analysis document made by the Fund on the difficulties faced by the program adopted by Macri: it was a scientific evaluation of the plan. Not “geopolitics”, as Martín Guzmán likes to say. There is another factor, quite obvious, to understand those priorities. IMF economists do not want to be involved in another Argentine failure. Leading them all is the new director of the Western Hemisphere, Ilan Goldfajn. This Brazilian, former president of the Central Bank of his country, who left the presidency of Credit Suisse to settle in Washington, is not going to risk his prestige to get involved in the unfortunate consequences that could derive from a “Sarasa Plan”.
The negotiation with the Fund has not yet advanced on a precise program. The only known plan, which was the 2021 budget, failed in its main variables. Does Alberto Fernández know that his minister, at least until now, is leading him to a dead end? This question is being asked today by observers very close to the Fund.
Guzmán speaks today much more often with Cristina Kirchner than with the President. It is not known if he was the one who convinced her that an understanding could be reached by which the Fund extends the terms of Argentine maturities, without declaring default. Others attribute this thesis to Sergio Massa, who usually excites Cristina and Maximo Kirchner with the colored mirrors of its parallel diplomacy.
The affinity between the vice president and Guzmán makes Tuesday’s aggressive tweet much more significant. The coordination between the two was demonstrated in that what Mrs. Kirchner hummed about the debt contracted by Macri, Guzmán tried to put it on a pentagram. The Palacio de Hacienda, as analyzed in THE NATION Pablo Fernández Blanco, issued a long thread of messages on his Twitter account the day before yesterday, to deny his own level of indebtedness. In these statements appears a communication that will go down in the history of economic quackery: the Ministry of Economy calls a report on debt by the Ministry of Economy itself false (https://twitter.com/Economia_Ar/status/1483566168623312898). To simplify: Guzmán denounces that Guzmán is lying. That is self-criticism.
There is no sign that Blinken has promised any management in the Fund. If he did, he charged in cash. As soon as he left his office, Cafiero joined a joint action with the United States to demand, within the framework of the OAS, that the countries of the region do not receive Iranians accused of the AMIA crime. The OAS is an institution that does not arouse Kirchner sympathy. There are the anti-Bolivarian Louis Almagro and his right hand, the Argentine Gustavo Cinosi, detested by Cristina Kirchner, but almost a boss for John Manzur. For that reason, it is now to be expected that Alberto Fernández will make the same claim in a much more welcoming environment: Celac, which he chairs. Blinken and Cafiero’s request questions what, perhaps, is the State with the closest relationship with Iran, especially in the military field: the Bolivia of the endearing Evo Morales.
Blinken was in the middle of an emergency when he received Cafiero. He had to leave immediately for Kiev, to give explicit support to the Ukrainian government against a hypothetical Russian attack. The crisis that is taking volume in that region of the world makes the trip that Fernández will make to Moscow become, with the hours, increasingly dense. It is an inconvenient journey. Not only because it snubs the United States at a time when its help is being claimed from the Fund. It also irritates China, which is the final destination of that journey of the President. If there’s one thing the Chinese hate, it’s being visited at the same time as a competitor.. And Russia is a competitor in the business offered by Argentina. Perhaps the President and his chancellor do not know. But I knew very well July De Vido, Kirchner’s royal chancellor before those nations: he learned very early that, for things to go well, separate trips had to be made.
Another misconception consists in assuming that Russia and China, due to their rivalries with the United States, will support Argentine breaches. A test: on December 8, a meeting with Russian investors from banking, mining and hydrocarbons was held at the Foreign Ministry. Cecilia Nicolini, eternal martyr of that complex bilateral relationship, heard a forceful message there: “If the economy is not normalized and capital flows are released, we cannot allocate a single currency to Argentina.” In other words: Russia asks for a coherent and credible plan, like the US Treasury, like the Fund.
The Chinese have gone one step further. They suspended any financing until Argentina resumes a program with the IMF. China is, after the United States and Japan, the third shareholder of that organization.
The President’s visit to that country is part of a controversy within the ruling party. Cristina Kirchner, Jorge Taiana and Ambassador Sabino Vaca Narvaja bet that the tour will be crowned with the country’s accession to the New Silk Road (an investment program also called “One Belt, One Route”). Gustavo Beliz and the ambassador in Washington, Jorge ArguelloUntil now, they have convinced Fernández that it is better not to sign. They do not want to hinder the relationship with the government of Joe Biden. They wield an alibi: next year Lula da Silva he could become president of Brazil, and the relationship with China would be channeled on a regional scale. An equivalent argument is used for the adoption of 5G technology.
On the agenda with Beijing, the construction of the Santa Cruz dams continues to be decisive. This presidential trip could unfreeze funding. The other business that will appear in the conversations is the purchase of some chinese nuclear power plant. It is a personal priority Xi Jinping. Here the difficulty is new. Not only is there a predictable and very discreet US veto. Nor is the ultra-Kirchnerist Association of State Workers enthusiastic about this option, which prefers to insist on traditional Canadian technology, which consumes more components from national industry. Another proof that for the ruling party the contradiction has no secrets.