Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s latest public appearance did not disappoint – the vice-president used a keynote speech marking inauguration of a new Peronist project on Thursday to let rip at Javier Milei’s dollarisation proposals and the policies of the International Monetary Fund.
With her eye firmly on current affairs, Fernández de Kirchner declared fiercely that dollarisation would be "worse than convertibility," attacked her political rivals and called for an end to a "circular Argentina" that offered the same failed proposals as before.
The Senate chief’s address had actors across the political spectrum on tenterhooks ahead of her address. It was her first public appearance since President Alberto Fernández announced he would not seek re-election and a second term.
The former president returned to the stage amid a renewed spell of economic and financial turbulence and the venue was packed, with key leaders from the ruling Frente de Todos coalition, union movements and the La Cámpora political youth grouping in attendance.
As expected, her loyal followers once demanded she again run for the nation’s highest office, chanting for her to launch a presidential run, but the veteran politician was having none of it.
“Keep your hair on,” she told the crowd, sparking complicit laughter among the crowd which included Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof and national deputy Máximo Kirchner in the front seats.
“I’ve already given everything,” she added, deflating the hopes of news editors and reporters and dismissing the calls in an instant.
The 70-year-old told the crowd that she had already said she wasn’t running and instead settled into a macroeconomic groove, delivering a typically fiery speech that denounced the policies of her political rivals and blamed the International Monetary Fund for spurring inflation in Argentina.
With tensions running high given the recent run on the peso-dollar exchange rate, Fernández de Kirchner dedicated a greater part of her “masterclass” held at the Teatro Argentino in La Plata to economic issues.
“Dollarisation is much worse than convertibility,” she declared, referring to one of the main economic policies proposed by libertarian economist Javier Milei, one of the outsiders for the presidency.
“Convertibility ended how it started, with the appropriation of savings and deposits,” the veep noted, recalling the consequences of the landmark 1991-2002 economic programme and how “people rushed to the streets and there was death, violence, repression.”
It could never be the "solution to inflation" she added, citing the example of Ecuador, which adopted the US dollar and still recorded price rises exceeding 355 percent in a two-decade spell beginning in 1999.
Fernández had come prepared, with charts and an argument, ready to push back on plans she disapproved of.
As has become her norm, the Senate chief then lashed out against the International Monetary Fund, blaming its policies for the current economic meltdown.
“The IMF’s policies have never been successful anywhere,” she told the crowd. “The agreement that was agreed is inflationary.”
Distancing herself from one of the key policies of the Albert Fernández administration – of which she is the second-in-command and the key holder of power – the vice-president described the multilateral lender’s approach and demands on Argentina as “part of a turnkey policy that is single mindedly implemented in every country.”
She particularly railed against the IMF’s rules on Central Bank interventions to prop up the currency, implicitly backing Economy Minister Sergio Massa’s decision to act amid a dramatic weakening of the peso on parallel exchange markets this week.
Fernández de Kirchner addressed the crowd as part of a launch event for the Néstor Kirchner Justicialist School, a new educational institution. Her lecture, entitled “27 April 2003-2023. Circular Argentina. The IMF and its historic recipe of inflation and recession. Political fragmentation and economic concentration," formed part of the school’s opening activities.
Given the internal conflict in the ruling coalition, it was little surprise that President Fernández was not in attendance. Also missing were Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and Security Minister Aníbal Fernández, all of them close allies. Economy Minister Sergio Massa also failed to show up, but his absence was justified as he was abroad and instead sent key members of his Renewal Front including Chamber of Deputies president Cecilia Moreau.