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Argentine Political Outlook (Nov-03-20) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-03-20, by Rosendo Fraga

1. Cristina Kirchner's letter exceeded in scope and consequences the rallies of October 17 and 27. The rally of Oct 17 showed a division of trade unionism in three aspects: the "Albertist" CGT losing power; Hugo Moyano and his allies winning it and operating between the President and the Vice President; and the Luis Barrionuevo sector, bringing together traditional Peronism and putting the unity of Héctor Daer's CGT at risk. The rally of Oct 27 was a revitalization of Kirchner to a higher level than that of Perón, but with the curiosity that neither Cristina nor Máximo attended the inauguration of the monument at the Kirchner Cultural Center. It was the letter from Cristina, known the day before, which became the most politically relevant event. She emphasized her central role and confirmed her effectiveness as a political leader. She was accurate even not to be; she said that the President makes the decisions, but that there are officials who do not "officiate" well; she called for dialogue, but reducing it to the exchange rate issue. The President said that he had felt it as an endorsement in her favor, but his group of collaborators in the Administration perceived it as an ambiguous and dangerous gesture. Alberto Fernández's candidacy for president of the PJ that was launched on October 17 was diluted. In this context, Cristina ratified her intention to exercise political leadership. She knows how to turn a detail into a political fact, such as her absence and that of her son in the monument celebration. Her presence in it along with Fernández would have expressed support and probably cordiality, but she preferred to avoid it. 

2. The illegal settlements showed divergences within the ruling party, but the concrete decision was made by the Vice President. The Buenos Aires Minister of Security, Sergio Berni - who regained his space with the eviction of Guernica - receives direct orders from her and Governor Kicillof consulted her before making the decision. They both refer to Cristina, not Alberto, in making a crucial and dangerous decision. The President, for his part, supported the measure - he did the same with the eviction of the Etchevehere's ranch- but with ambiguities to mitigate it: by saying that there were ideas of Grabois that were not nonsense, he sought to neutralize the criticisms of the coalition's left. The aforementioned social activist had held the President and the governors of Buenos Aires and Entre Ríos responsible for the incidents, but avoided referring to the Vice President. In neither of the two events did federal forces participate in support of the provincial ones. In reality, Berni accentuated his role as the Government's main reference in security, overshadowing the national minister of the area, Sabina Frederic, who was opposed to the evictions. The bulk of Peronism -governors, CGT, mayors of Greater Buenos Aires- supported in silence, but sharing the decision to put limits on episodes that could lead to anarchy. However, usurpations are a widespread situation in the country that is far from over. The prison riots on Saturday October 31 in the province of Buenos Aires - which ended up yielding to the pressure of the rioters - show that the accumulation of tensions is broad. In this case, the restrictions of the pandemic precipitated the outbreak of a pre-existing problem. 

3. The role of the social militancy represented by Grabois is an unresolved issue despite the evictions - which he recognized as a "defeat" - and the distancing of the Pope and the Episcopate. Days before the eviction of Entre Ríos, the Supreme Pontiff did not receive a delegation from the Grabois sector, while the day before, Monsignor Ojeda rejected the illegal settlements as a methodology due to the risk of violence they imply. But now the government will try to "make it up" with Grabois for his compliance with the evictions. He represents a broad structure in number of militants and in their ties within the Government. He belongs to the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy (UTEP), current name of what in recent years was known as the Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy (CTEP). Grabois does so as the leader of the Excluded Workers Movement (MTE), he is also a member of the Classist and Combative Current (CCC) led by Víctor Alderete - a former Maoist militant - and the Evita Movement, among others. The UTEP is the organization that manages the highest amount of State resources in this field and has the greatest mobilization capacity. This organization has an official in the Government House (Fernando "Chino" Navarro) and one in Social Development (Emilio Persico) both from the Evita Movement, and has just taken control of the Sociourban Integration Secretariat, which went from Housing to Social Development with a budget of 8 billion pesos. The motto of the "Three T's" in Spanish -land, house and work- was assumed by the then CTEP and showed its connection with the current thought of the Church. But the Trotskyism represented by the Polo Obrero, which resisted the eviction of Guernica, is a political-social expression willing to violent resistance, despite which in certain specific cases it is willing to negotiate to obtain benefits. 

4. At the beginning of November, the opposition shows more signs of division than of cohesion in its relationship with the ruling party. The dialogue proposed by Cristina Kirchner that the Government is not going to hold - as Alberto Fernández stated when he said that "the channels of dialogue are already working" - has made some sectors of Juntos por el Cambio maintain that it must be accepted, while others maintain that they must wait for the President to decide to endorse it or not. Carrió's proposal that Juntos por el Cambio contribute the two-thirds of the Senate necessary to appoint the Attorney General of the Nation, Daniel Rafecas, proposed by the Executive, is another matter of conflict. The same people who seem to maintain this position (Rodríguez Larreta, Vidal and Carrió) are dealing with Macri, who wants to impose conditions on the dialogue with the Government. When the Budget was approved in the Lower House, of the 6 congress members of Juntos por el Cambio who voted in favor, 5 respond to the governors of Jujuy and Corrientes (both opponents) and the one from La Rioja has already split, forming a separate bloc. In Mendoza, the Democratic Party (conservative) broke with Juntos por el Cambio, which governs the province with a radical party official (Rodolfo Suárez). Faced with the statements that "Macri is past" raised by Carrió, among others, the head of Radicalism, Alfredo Cornejo, and the Auditor General of the Nation, Miguel Ángel Pichetto, said otherwise. In this framework, neither in the ruling party nor in the opposition the leaderships are clear and divisions exist. Meanwhile, in 227 days of pandemic and restrictions, the deaths in the country total 31,000 and the infected 1,166,924, which brings it to the 12th and 7th positions globally, respectively. But measured in quantity per 100,000 inhabitants, Argentina ranks 11th in deaths (69.7) and has a level of infections per 100,000 similar to that of Brazil. But the second wave of infection that affects the developed countries of the West ist the greatest threat in the coming months.


5. To conclude: 

a.  The letter by Cristina Kirchner surpassed the rallies of Oct 17 and 27 in terms of political impacts and consequences. 

b.  The president stated it was a backing for his administration, but those were not the effects as a lack of fluent dialogue is evidenced between the parties. 

c.  The attitude of the vice president was key for Kicillof and Berni to advance in the eviction of Guernica, but the president's attitude towards Grabois was more ambiguous. 

d.  The opposition shows growing conflicts over a proposal for dialogue which has not materialized and Carrió's initiative to support the appointment of the president's candidate for Attorney General.

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