Argentina. President Mauricio Macri won a major success in the congressional elections on October 22 when his center-right coalition Cambiemos (“Let’s change”) won in five of the country’s most popular electoral districts (the city and province of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fé and Mendoza). In total, Cambiemos won in 13 of the country’s 24 electoral districts, which no government has done since the mid-1980s. Most important was the victory in the province of Buenos Aires, where the coalition’s candidate defeated President Cristina Kirchner (2007–15). Her party The Justice Party (Partido Justicialista, PJ) only managed to win in the sparsely populated Fire Land, Chubut, Río Negro and San Luis.
According to Countryaah.com, Kirchner’s defeat came as no surprise. Her popularity figures have dropped dramatically as accusations against several of her former ministers on corruption have increased in scope. Among these were deputies Julio de Vido, Kirchner’s planning minister, who was deprived of his immunity on October 17, accused of embezzling $ 15.2 million. Shortly after the election, Prosecutor Alejandra Gils Carbó also announced his departure at the end of the year. She was also accused of corruption and was closely associated with Kirchner during her time as president. At the same time as the government coalition’s position in Congress improved, it did not have a majority when the new congress was convened on December 10 – for it took 22 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 12 in the Senate.
The election campaign was eclipsed by the disappearance of political activist Santiago Maldonado in August. In the middle of October, a body was found in a river in the province of Chubut, which just two days before the election turned out to be the missing one. Maldonado was involved in the indigenous people’s struggle for rights in the area and disappeared in connection with violent clashes with police near the site where the body was found.
Strikes and demonstrations also pushed the government during the year, especially a major manifestation in Buenos Aires in August, organized by the trade union organization CGT, which is closely linked to the Peronist Party PJ, against what the protesters called neoliberal labor market policy.
In April, almost an area of 10 million hectares hit the Paraná River in Argentina’s economic heart, with a quarter of the country’s agriculture and livestock farming as the river flooded over its banks due to intense rain. About fifty people perished. The worst affected were the provinces of La Pampa, Buenos Aires, Santa Fé and Córdoba.
Over one million covid cases in Argentina
Argentina has had a total of over one million cases of covid-19. In the last 24 hours alone, almost 13,000 new cases of the disease have been reported and 451 new deaths. This means that over 26,700 people have died in covid-19 in Argentina. The increase is taking place despite the fact that a number of restrictions are still in force to prevent the further spread of infection.
Protests against the government’s corona strategy
Thousands of people gather in Buenos Aires and several other major cities to protest the government’s corona strategy and the severe consequences of the restrictions on the country’s and citizens’ economies. But there is also great dissatisfaction with a new legal reform (see August 2020) and that accusations of corruption are not investigated. Some of the protesters also believe that schools should be reopened so that parents can return to work. The demonstrations are being held at the same time as figures show that Argentina has had over 900,000 cases of covid-19. It is the sixth highest figure in the world. More than 24,000 people have died from the viral disease.
New talks between IMF and Argentina in November
The IMF now announces that negotiations with Argentina on crisis measures will begin in mid-November. The IMF emphasizes that it is aware that the country is in a difficult situation, where the economy was in crisis even before the corona pandemic broke out, with widespread poverty and high unemployment.
Crisis for the Argentine peso
Argentina and the IMF are negotiating debt relief. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva now says she does not intend to push too hard during the current crisis. At the same time, Argentina has tried to take measures to maintain the value of the Argentine peso, among other things by issuing new government bonds pegged to the dollar (however, the value has already fallen rapidly). The government has also temporarily reduced export taxes on goods from agriculture, the mining industry and industry in order to bring in foreign currency. According to a source quoted by the Financial Times, Argentina’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen to $ 5 billion.
800,000 cases of covid-19 in Argentina
The number of cases of covid-19 continues to increase, to around 800,000. The capital Buenos Aires and its surroundings are most exposed. Some experts point out that Argentina conducts relatively few tests, which means that the number of cases can be significantly higher than the official figures suggest.