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Argentine Political Outlook (Mar-28-16) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Mar-28-16 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. Obama's visit has been the highlight of the renewed foreign policy established by the Macri Administration. The key phrase by the American President in this visit is that Argentina should be an "example" for the region. This shows that Washington perceives the significance implied by Macri's arrival in office, which can influence similar processes that have been initiated in Venezuela, Bolivia and possibly Peru in the next presidential election and in the evolution of the political crisis in Brazil. The success of Argentina's experience can make this regional shift accentuate and accelerate in the opposite direction implied by the arrival of Chavez in power at the end of the 1990s. The agreements signed are broader than reported so far by the Argentine Government. In the trade sector, this opens up the possibility of lowering tariff barriers bilaterally, without implying a free trade agreement (FTA) that would lead to dropping Mercosur. Agreements have also been signed in the fight against money-laundering, drug-trafficking and terrorism. Possibility of cooperation so that Argentina receives Syrian refugees and sends peacekeeping forces to Africa. A greater presence of the Armed Forces in the U.S. South command, cooperation in intelligence in the Triple border with Brazil and Paraguay, joint intelligence forces to integrate and repair its fleet of Hercules C-130 with the U.S. assistance, are all possibilities which have been opened. It also ratifies cooperation in nuclear security and with the NASA in the satellite field. But apart from that, the Obama Administration sent a letter to the New York Appellate Court in favor of the Argentina position. On Thursday, Macri will be in Washington to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit, when he will see Obama and begin his approach to Asia, holding meetings with the President of China, and possibly also with the heads of Government of Japan and South Korea.

2. A day earlier, on Wednesday 30, the Senate is expected to give final approval to the bill in accordance with the holdouts which already has the approval of the Lower House. Last week, the Committees of budget and finance and economy gave the go-ahead with the vote of FPV Senators. This anticipates that the same would happen at the plenary in the House, where about half of the 42 Senators of said bloc could vote in favor, along with Cambiemos, the dissident Peronism and the provincial parties. With the final approval and mentioned support from the Obama administration, the Argentine Government will focus on solving the problems within the framework of the hearing between the parties convened by the New York Appellate Court, which raises questions about the date of payment, which is the 14th. The adoption of the bill at the Senate confirms the divide between Peronism and Kirchnerism gets deeper and that the latter is not able to influence the Executive in the political system, i.e. in the Governors and Congress.

3. The 40th anniversary of the last military coup and the visit of Obama showed that the hard core of the opposition resides in the convergence of Kirchnerism with the left. Approximately 40,000 people demonstrated on 24 March in the Plaza de Mayo in condemnation of the last military coup. Three different sectors converged: human rights organizations beyond their divisions between the moderate (Carlotto) and the radical (Bonafini); left-wing parties, such as the PO, MST, PST, largely of Trotskyist orientation and Kirchnerism, with groups such as La Campora, Movimiento Evita, and others. Outside Kirchnerism itself, the presence of Daniel Scioli stood out. Cristina supported the demonstration with a twitter recalling writer Rodolfo Walsh's letter to the military junta. But the demonstration was also against Obama's visit to the country, the agreement with the holdouts, ''the dismissals being pushed by Macri'' and in ''defense of the gains of the past years", in a clear line that questions the national Government and all of its policies. This is the central core of the opposition that Cambiemos is going to face in the coming months and protests on the streets will be the stage for its expression. The only security incident during Obama's visit was when pro-K demonstrators trespassed the security cordon approached Obama's car in Bariloche.

4. The corruption allegations have gained some dynamics, projecting political consequences. The drive of the legal actions involving corruption allegations against Kirchnerism, has not come from the Government but from the media. The Judiciary is based on it and under the influence of judges hearing corruption cases in Brazil, which begins to generate similar attitudes among Argentine judicial officials and connections, such as the investigation into the President of the Brazilian Senate (Calheiros), accused of having received bribes for the sale of a local company of Petrobras by a businessman linked to Kirchnerism (Electroingeniería). Government seems neutral in this process, as the Macri said publicly, while conflicting views exist among his team members relating to whether the process that has been unleashed actually favors or is detrimental to the Government. Cristina Kirchner has been summoned to testify in the case for the sale of future dollars for April 13, as judge Bonadío said that if she fails to appear, she will be brought by the security forces. Kirchnerism has called a national protest march for that day in solidarity with her. At the same time, complaints against Cristóbal López and Lázaro Báez, accused of several irregularities and economic links with the Kirchner family, are moving fast. The former head of the AFIP, who is now at the front of the General Audit of the Nation (Echegaray) has said that Baez should be imprisoned. The former radical candidate to the governorship of Santa Cruz (Costa), says Cristina, Lopez and Baez will surely go to jail. The same was expressed by union leader Luis Barrionuevo. For his part, Baez says that he can explain his wealth but Echegaray and Alicia Kirchner cannot do it. Cristóbal López threatens to broadcast television programs against a businessman linked to the President (Caputo) - required by Elisa Carrió to sell all his companies - and an envoy of the President ordered the former to settle his pending tax payments of gross income for the game business in the city of Buenos Aires. A process has unleashed and primarily affects Kirchnerism, but its political consequences are difficult to predict today.

5. To conclude:

a) Obama's visit has been a turning point in Macri's foreign policy and evidenced political and economic support to strengthen him as the "example" in the region.

b) This week, the Senate will give final approval to the bill with the holdouts, confirming the division between Peronism and Kirchnerism and leaving government ready to solve the final stage of the problem.

c) The commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the last military coup showed the hard core of the opposition is the convergence between Kirchnerism with the left and human rights organizations.

d) The legal actions for corruption against Kirchnerism are promoted without the government’s involvement, showing divided opinions on the pros and cons of the process.  

 
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