Saturday, December 26, 2015

In the first year after Cristina

After talking to several people in my first day in the country, there is a general sentiment that the change in political power in Argentina is the beginning of something much bigger.

Some openly stated that this is how many people must have felt in Europe after Hilter was no more (ignoring the fact that the world was at war and that Hitler was not merely a dictator). It was odd that the same person did not compare it to the end of Argentina’s own military dictatorship in the eighties.
Others believe that the change in power is the beginning of something bigger for Latin America. In a similar fashion, how the ouster of the military junta in 1983 set in motion a wave of change of military dictatorships across the continent, the defeat of Kirchnerism will end a wave of populism and socialism. Adios Maduro. Adios Morales.

There is also regret among many who originally supported Cristina. ‘Yes, I voted before for Cristina, and almost immediately regretted it.’ Lots of wonderful promises and no funds to realize them. Thus Cristina went on a robbing spree among the already tattered middleclass and the coffers of the country. Sadly, people realized too late that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

To the question how Cristina got elected and reelected, I did not get a lot of answers. Perhaps the wave of populism was at its highest in the continent. Perhaps the many governmental jobs created made the difference. Or an adversary which was not much of a contender.

Macri is not considered the savior of the country either. In the first round of the election, he ammased only 30.12% of the votes, and in the runoff election he won by a slim margin (51.34%). ‘There are many things I do not like about Macri’, people will admit. They often see him too much as a free market politician. However, breaking with the thievery of Cristina, and the fear campaign of her succesor, Scioli, was worth electing Macri. 

Although Macri swiftly made some economic changes, the skeletons are still falling out the closets. Last minute sweetheart agreements by Cristina are rearing their head. For example, Cristina signed agreements with Chinese companies to build a large hydro electric dam on the Santa Cruz river, though it appears funds to pay the salaries for the workers were not budgetted. The governor of Cristina’s province is now asking Macri for help. Oh the irony.

The worst of the post Cristina era is yet to come. The devaluation of the Argentine peso made basic goods quickly more expensive whereas salaries have not been adjusted. Wait two to three months for the real hardship to come for the middle and lower class Argentines. 

For now, people are still enjoying their honeymoon with the new president.

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