Former president Mauricio Macri is among the signatories of an open letter that accuses Argentina’s government of using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to introduce authoritarian measures.
The document, issued by the Madrid-based Fundación Internacional para la Libertad (FIL), alleges that the government’s “marked ideological bias” is showing in its actions and warns against the allegedly "authoritarian" measures being taken by various countries to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
Feted writer, Nobel Prize winner and ex-Peru presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa is also among the signatories.
Under the title Que la pandemia no sea un pretexto para el autoritarismo, FIL describes the text as a “manifesto” against "excessive attitudes" taken by different Latin American governments, among them the one headed by Alberto Fernández in Argentina.
"While public and private health employees battle valiantly against coronavirus, many governments take measures indefinitely restricting liberties and basic rights. Instead of some understandable restrictions of freedom, several countries are imposing a confinement with minimal exceptions, the impossibility of working and producing and the manipulation of information," the document reads.
"Some governments have identified this as an opportunity to arrogate excessive power, suspending the rule of law and even representative democracy and the system of justice,” the text adds.
Apart from Vargas Llosa and Macri, the document was signed by Spanish ex-premier José María Aznar, various former Latin American presidents and Darío Lopérfido and Patricia Bullrich among Argentine politicians. Also among the signatories are businessman Alejandro Roemmers, writer Marcos Aguinis, ex-culture secretary Darío Lopérfido and ex-defence and economy minister Ricardo López Murphy.
Macri and Bullrich are both PRO hardliners against the policies of Alberto Fernández, especially where security, the economy and the handling of the Covid-19 crisis are concerned. Their sector demands more testing to detect positive cases of coronavirus, greater speed in bringing home Argentines stranded abroad and more opening of the quarantine to permit economic activity. These demands have generated internal friction with the sector headed by Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who gets on well with the President in his handling of the pandemic.
The FIL critique runs: "In the dictatorships of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua the pandemic serves as a pretext to increase political persecution and oppression. In Spain and Argentina leaders with a marked ideological bias aspire to use these tough circumstances to grab political and economic prerogatives which the citizenry would reject resolutely in another context,” the document alleges.
"In Mexico the pressure against private enterprise is spiking and the Grupo de Puebla [left-wing grouping] is being used to attack governments of different political lines,” the text adds, assuring that "on both sides of the Atlantic state interventionism and populism are resurging with an impetus which makes one think of a change of model far removed from liberal democracy and the market economy.”
“We want to manifest with energy that this crisis must not be confronted by sacrificing the rights and liberties which cost so much to secure. We reject the false dilemma that these circumstances oblige us to choose between authoritarianism and insecurity, between the Philanthropic Ogre and death,” the FIL manifesto concludes.