President of Argentina Christina Fernandez de Kirchner visited Georgetown today for the opening of the Catedra Argentina, a new forum for dialogue and lecture about relations between Argentina and the United States.
President Kirchner highlighted the relationship between Argentina and the U.S. by referring to a shared colonial heritage, slavery, Enron, and similar governmental structures.
“We both have constitutional systems that are very similar,” Kirchner said. “The Argentine constitution is a copy of the U.S. Constitution, but they do not differ substantially because both are presidential systems with parliamentary systems and checks and balances.”
Now, Argentina is deviating from the American model it once embodied. Controversial legislation passed in December 2011 granting the government complete control over the production of the sale and distribution of wood pulp and newsprint. This legislation greatly diminished the power of newspapers such as Clarin and La Nacion that have criticized Kirchner’s policies. The Kirchner administration even removed Argentina’s top cable television company, Cablevisión, and its Internet provider, Fibertel , from the management of the Clarin group.
President Kirchner has substantiated these acts of media repression and her unwillingness to speak to the press by claiming the media reacts violently when she does not give the response they want.
“When they say that you do not talk to the press it is because you do not tell them what they want to hear,” Kirchner said. “In Argentina when they [the press] do not like the answer you give they shout and they get mad at you. They may even kick a door. All journalists are independent, but only from the Spanish Crown. No woman president has been more harshly insulted or slandered than I have been. I even sent a bill to congress where journalists can say whatever they want without repercussion.”
Addressing the recent allegations from the International Monetary Fund that Kirchner was supplying false information on the inflation rate of Argentina, Kirchner condemned the IMF for doing its job.
The IMF does not talk about the inflation rate; instead, it talks about statistics in Argentina. The head of the IMF threatened to give Argentina a red card. The position of the IMF is clearly contrary to Argentina. Let me ask what are the stats of Greece, the stats of Portugal, the stats of Spain, the UK, or the USA? Do you all really believe that the cost of living in the US only increases by 2% a year? The IMF seems to be taking it out on Argentina. We are the bad student. We said no to each and every one of the restrictions they tried to impose on us. We have nothing against the IMF in the ideological field, but the issue of the IMF is that it led to the worst tragedy in Argentina.
Kirchner portrayed the IMF as a European sponsored body that exists solely to slander the government of Argentina. The National Institute of Statistics and Census reported that the inflation rate holds at four to six percent, but many other statistics show inflation rates double or triple that figure. INDEC wrote that a person can have a balanced diet in Argentina on 6 pesos a day, but an alfajor, a sweet biscuit nibbled between meals over coffee, costs five pesos and yogurt costs nine pesos. So unless an alfajor contains all major food groups and 2,000 calories, these INDEC statistics are questionable.
Kirchner remains adamant in following the path she set for Argentina. “We have repaid our debt to the IMF. We have autonomy in our economy.”
Photo by Stephania Sferra