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ARGENTINA | 18-07-2019 09:09

Piñera, Macri discuss dangers of populist 'snake charmers' in LatAm

Mauricio Macri shares the stage with his Chilean par Sebastián Piñera at the Mercosur summit to discuss politics in Latin America.

The heads of state of Argentina and Chile shared the stage at the Mercosur summit in Santa Fe on Wednesday to discuss the future of regional politics. One key area of interest was populism.

President Mauricio Macri compared Argentina's populist movements as "snake charmers", saying the country was now waking up to a "painful" reality that it must live within its means.

"Argentina has experienced many years of populism", he said, in loose reference to the former Kirchner governments. "Only now is it dealing with reality, which is painful, because for many years they convinced us we could have infinite rights but no responsibilities, and that the State could generate wealth to be distributed".

The country was, he added, fighting against "the snake charmers who try to convince everyone that the future can be wasted to live well today".

A fellow former business, Piñera shared his counterpart's sentiment in a panel discussion titled "Opportunities and Challenges in Latin America" at the Constitution Museum. It was hosted by the Fundación Libertad, a liberal think tank.

The type of State that populists believe in, Peña claimed, "might work in heaven, where nobody needs anything; or in hell, where they have everything. This type of system produced a type of demagogy that might trick some countries for long periods of time".

Both agreed it was the private sector, not the State, which should create wealth for a society.

On the issue of the crisis in Venezuela, Piñera said the Caribbean nation was living in "not only a dictatorship, but a corrupt and incompetent one too".

"The dictatorship has transformed into an illicit organization involved in drug-trafficking. So when we deal with the Venezuelan government, it's not like dealing with other dictatorships we've dealt with in Latin America. Maduro is part of the problem and he will never be part of the solution," he added.

Macri thanked God for "inspiring Argentines to put the brakes on, because we were headed in the same direction", referring to the Kirchners.

Macri will face Alberto Fernández at the ballot box in the October presidential elections. Fernández's running mate is former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

-Reporting by Mariano Beldyk

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