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ARGENTINA | 06-12-2019 00:24

Macri: Argentina is ‘better off than it was four years ago’

In his final address to the nation as president, outgoing leader reflects on four years in office and pitches himself as the future leader of the opposition.

Mauricio Macri used a Cadena Nacional broadcast to deliver his final televised address to the nation as president Thursday night, in which he reflected on his last four years in office and pitched himself as the future leader of the opposition.

Pointing to economic reforms that he said had put the country in a greater position moving forward, the president hailed advances in freedom of the press and said his government had reduced corruption, hailing those as the hallmark achievements of his administration. Macri also celebrated the triumph of his government in the 2015 election, observed that he would be the first non-Peronist leader to complete his term in decades and alluded to his future as the leader of the opposition. 

The pre-recorded address lasted 39 minutes. In it, the Cambiemos leader assured the audience he remained “convinced that we are better off than we were four years ago and that we were committed to working ... in support of sound reforms.” 

Critics were quick to pick holes in Macri’s claims that his economic reforms simply “hadn’t arrived on time to recover from the crisis.”  Argentina looks set to enter its third year of recession in 2020, with the economy expected to shrink by 3.1 percent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Former San Juan Province governor and current lawmaker José Luis Gioja tweeted that “Macri [has] ended like he began, lying to all Argentines.”

Similarly, Matías Tombolini, an economist and former City mayor candidate for Consenso Federal, wrote that Macri’s “efforts to explain/lie about the poor macroeconomic performance of the last 30 years insulting.”

Journalist Jorge Rial, a frequent adversary of the outgoing president, similarly said “I’d like to live in the Argentina that Macri’s describing.” 

Statistics released on Thursday from the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) indicated that poverty reached 40.8 percent in the third quarter of 2019, the highest level since the economic collapse in 2001. Inflation for the year so far totalled 42.2 percent at the end of October, while unemployment has risen to over 10 percent.

There was some humility over the economy from the outgoing leader. Arguing that his administration had not been able to solve all it had wished to over his four years leading the nation, Macri said that had "frustrated" him.

"I regret that the results of our economic reforms did not arrive on time," he said.

"I am not satisfied with how much the economy grew in my mandate or what were the results of the fight against inflation and poverty."

Nod to Fernández

Without naming his successor, Alberto Fernández, Macri levied subtle attacks against the president-elect, hinting at his historically confrontational relationship with the press.

“During these years, I never criticised a journalist for spreading information that was considered incorrect,” Macri said, referencing a recent Twitter spat that occurred this week between Fernández and the respected La Nación journalist, Hugo Alconada Mon. 

The outgoing president also sought to draw a sharp distinction between his philosophy of governance and that of Kirchnerismo, citing institutional health and transparency.

Underlining the INDEC national statistics bureau's questionable reputation under the Kirchner administrations, Macri said the data agency he inherited “manipulated and hid information,” but that he had helped transform it into a “credible and professional” institution. The government, Macri argued, now “tells the truth and doesn’t hide information from its citizens.” 

The departing president also said it had become “much harder” for the government “to rob money from Argentines,” adding that institutions were now more “transparent,” and that detecting corruption was now much easier thanks to the institutionalisation of statistics, protocols, rules and regulations.

Finally, Macri seemed to paint himself as the heir-apparent opposition leader once Fernández takes office on December 10. 

“Starting next week, I will show that there can be a constructive opposition, always thinking about what is best for Argentines,” he said. 

The president will hold a farewell rally at the Plaza de Mayo tonight.

– TIMES/AFP/PERFIL

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