Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made another explosive intervention into domestic politics last Tuesday, as he spoke of "Macri’s pandemic" in reference to the agreement which ex-president Mauricio Macri signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), assuring that "it cost the national state even more than the Covid-19 pandemic."
"More than one scientist is saying that the Covid-19 pandemic is drawing to an end. I hope so! We will still continue looking after ourselves. But what we know will never end in Argentina is what happened to us – and continues to happen- from Macri’s pandemic when in 2018 Macri brought the IMF back to Argentina," pointed out the ex-president.
Via the letter, published on her social networks, the vice-president compared the expenses which the state must incur to pay off the IMF with those for healthcare, indicated that "Macri’s pandemic" represents "1.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product" while coronavirus implies "0.9 percent of GDP."
The Kirchnerite leader firstly referred to the agreement between the Macri administration and the IMF by pointing out that "they gave an exceptional loan of US$57 billion to save the government and help it to win the elections," adding ironically: "Not only did they not win the elections but the whereabouts of those dollars are unknown. Has anybody seen them? If so, please call 911."
The former president explained that her statements did not seek "to mock the tragedy of the pandemic," pointing out: "On the contrary. But please look at what Argentina, your country, had to pay only last year."
Under the subheading "Macri’s pandemic," Fernández de Kirchner pointed out in her letter that in 2021 the country "paid (between capital and interest) US$5.16 billion to the IMF for that year corresponding to the loan" granted in 2018, remarking: "That sum represents nothing more or less than 1.1 percent of GDP... but in dollars!"
And under the subheading "the Covid-19 pandemic" she indicated that in the same year Argentina "paid 420 billion pesos destined strictly to mitigating the effects of the pandemic."
These were detailed as "anti-Covid vaccines (124 billion pesos), REPRO II wage assistance (90 billion pesos), Previaje tourist programme (31 billion pesos), the reduction of employer contributions (51 billion pesos) and expanded social welfare," after which she highlighted: "That sum represents 0.9 percent of the GDP...but in pesos!"
"It can thus very easily be seen that in 2021, Macri’s pandemic cost the national state even more than the Covid-19 pandemic," underlined the vice-president.
In conclusion, she added: "Macri’s pandemic took away from us the hard currency which we need so much as a country because the IMF must be paid completely and exclusively in dollars ... because for all of our insistence they do not accept our pesos."
The vice-president published her letter hours after the main opposition coalition demanded from President Alberto Fernández "an economic plan" which might contribute to reaching the agreement sought with the international creditor.
Juntos por el Cambio leaders questioned the veep for her intervention. "Cristina Kirchner banalises the death of 120,000 people from Covid-19 when she speaks of Macri’s pandemic. Only a bad person with great hatred could do that," posted lower house Radical caucus leader Mario Negri on his Twitter account.
Macri used his social networks to defend himself from the accusations. On being blamed for the multi-billion debt to the IMF, Macri opted to share two tweets from his former Economy minister Alfonso Prat Gay, who analysed the situation.
“They demonise Macri because he 'plunged the country into debt' but they have already increased the debt more than Macri in only half of their misgovernment!!” wrote the economist under the hashtag “#FanáticosDeLaMentira.” To the tweet he attached bar graphs comparing the debt contracted in the two years of the Alberto Fernández presidency with that of Macri.
Then the ex-president opted to refloat another tweet from Prat Gay dated January 9 against the former president: “CFK looted the Central Bank, robbed the savings from the AFJP pension funds and years of federal revenue-sharing funds from the provinces while bankrupting the state by transforming surplus into deficit and increasing the debt by US$129 billion. But now the blame goes to the person who tried to sort out that mess. #NoMientanMás,” manifested the ex-minister, adding: “They will have left debt equivalent to one IMF per year when they go, beating their own records. Stop playing the victim and take responsibility once and for all for the damage you have done and continue to do to Argentina!!”
Opposition deputy Silvina Lospenato accused Fernández de Kirchner of "tremendous impudence" in "speaking of the cost of Covid-19 without mentioning the cost in lives from the appalling decisions of her government. All of us who have lost family and friends do not forget what 'her government' did to privilege geopolitics and business over our lives."