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Argentine Political Outlook (Oct-26-20) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Oct-26-20, by Rosendo Fraga

1. On October 27, on the 10th anniversary of the death of Néstor Kirchner, a series of rallies are carried out to revitalize his political current while the co-participation in power of Alberto and Cristina is in a difficult moment. On October 17, the 75th anniversary of Peronism was commemorated in an event in which the Vice President decided to stay on the sidelines and her supporters took over and neutralized the political effects of the rally. Alberto Fernández's candidacy for president of the PJ lost momentum: none of the 18 Peronist governors made reference to the issue again at the rally. The CGT was weakened by the street demonstration of the vehicles of the Truckers union, La Cámpora organized caravans in different cities and the announcers in the CGT were from this organization. Now, a bust of Kirchner will be inaugurated next to that of Perón at the building of the CGT. In the afternoon the statue of Kirchner that was removed from the Unasur headquarters in Quito will be placed within the framework of a rally managed by the militancy at the Cultural Center that bears his name in the traditional Post Office building. A "rain of images" of Kirchner will be broadcasted in 100 cities of the country. Thus, the Vice President will have a scenario that she will surely not miss, although her presence will not be confirmed until the last moment. If Kirchnerism is a transient expression of Peronism or is an enhanced version of it is a discussion raised between the intellectuals and theorists of Peronism and the militancy. 

2. While this is happening, the pandemic continues to be a problem that deteriorates the Government every day. The polls published over the weekend, that of the University of San Andrés and that of Giacobbe show that the positive image of President Alberto Fernández is already below 40%. As for the Vice President, she is at a similar level but with a rejection that reaches 60%. As this happens, the numbers of infections and deaths continue to increase. To date, Argentina ranks 12 in total number of deaths (28,600) and 11 in deaths per 100,000 inhabitants (64.31). But in the number of total infections the country is already in 6th position with more than 1 million and in cases every 100,000 inhabitants it already has 2,430, only 130 less than Brazil. The Government is puzzled and without a policy to deal with the problem. This was evidenced by the President, in his own words, when announcing the extension of the restrictions (he avoids calling it quarantine) until November 8. But the opening of borders to neighboring countries is the most puzzling measure. After 7 months of prioritizing the restrictions, the Argentine government opens the borders to tourism as of November 1, without demanding reciprocity from these countries. The arguments - the goal is to promote the inflow of dollars or reactivate tourism - do not seem to be consistent with the objectives that have been raised in previous months, at a time when the peak of the pandemic is uncertain and in the western developed countries the second wave of infection takes place. 

3. The illegal land settlements appear as the central conflict in the social field, when crime and violence are on the rise in large urban areas. Land occupation is spreading rapidly. In Patagonia, it takes place based on an indigenous claim: they have not only occupied land of the national state, such as national parks and the Military Mountain School, but they have also done it in Vaca Muerta, the main oil basin of the country. Neuquén and Río Negro are the most affected provinces in Patagonia and to a lesser extent Chubut as well. In Greater Buenos Aires, the settlement in Guernica at the Presidente Perón municipal district is the most important due to its territorial extension (100 hectares) and to the number of people who have settled. When the Buenos Aires government believed that there were 500 families on the property, a new census showed that there were three times as many (1,500). While they negotiate the departure of some families, there are many more who settle on the property. The existence of armed people willing to resist leads Governor Kicillof - his statement that the country-side gated communities are also land settlements reflects his lack of will to face the problem - to postpone compliance with the eviction court order. The conflict in Entre Ríos over the illegal settlement in a land owned by the Etchevehere family by Grabois militants in the context of a family conflict, shows an increase in tension and risks of violence. The provincial police prevented a caravan of 11 vehicles and 30 people from entering to reinforce the seizure, organized by second lines of the national government. A militant from the Grabois group has just been appointed in charge of urbanization plans for the settlements. Simultaneously, Rosario reached 171 murders in the year, mostly derived from drugs, and combined they account for more than all of last year's figure. The desperation over insecurity in the popular sectors is leading to an increase in cases of justice by people's own hands. Last week in Tucumán two people were lynched, adding to the 11 cases already existing in the year and one more case occurred in Mendoza. 

4. But the third front is made by the economy, the price of the blue dollar and the exchange rate gap, along with the pandemic and illegal settlements. The President is aware of the negative effect and the weakening of his power that this situation implies, but he does not want to introduce changes in his team because that will give Kirchnerism the opportunity to appoint new officials. He has given Minister Martín Guzmán two weeks to control the issue, which he will hardly achieve, because the economic uncertainty depends on politics: the inaction of the President is a consequence of his lack of clarity or his lack of power in the face of Kirchnerism. The Vice President gains space in different areas, but will not speak or decide on the economy. Of the three fronts mentioned, this is perhaps the most relevant in terms of speed. In Congress, as the Lower House submits its opinion this week, the ruling party is preparing to achieve the half-approval of the Budget. In the Senate, the Justice Commission gave commission clearance for bills that change the two-thirds majority of the Senate established to appoint the attorney, to a simple majority. So far this year only two laws have been enacted regarding the pandemic. Regarding the decision of the Court on the removal of the three judges, it is delayed due to the impossibility of obtaining a sentence in which at least three of its members agree. 

5. To conclude: 

a.  The 10-year commemoration of Kirchner's death is staged by his supporters as a response to the October 17 rally and an attempt to impose the Kirchnerist movement over peronism.


b.  The pandemic has already lowered the president's approval below 40% and this poses electoral risks, when its peak is not clear and measures are suggested such as opening the borders based on unreasonable health care grounds.


c. The increase and extension of illegal land settlements emerges from the social conflict with strong political connotations, where an imponderable event may derive in violence, with leading pro-government militants.


d.  The price of the dollar is the government's pressing problem which hastens the political crisis, as the vice president remains silence on the issue and the president sets deadlines for Minister Guzman.

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