Argentines Protest as Chamber of Deputies Approves IMF Adjustment Plan

Sunday, March 13 (OrinocoTribune.com)—Thousands of Argentines protested outside the Argentine Parliament on Thursday and Friday as the Chamber of Deputies discussed the new refinancing agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that was proposed by the economic cabinet of President Alberto Fernández. After more than 13 hours of discussion, the draft agreement to refinance the $45 billion debt acquired by former president Mauricio Macri from the IMF was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on Friday, March 11, with 200 votes in favor and 37 against the bill, while 15 deputies abstained. The bill has been sent to the Senate for further procedures. It has to be passed by the Senate and the IMF board of directors in order for it to enter into vigor.

The most notable among those who voted against the agreement was Deputy Máximo Kirchner, who was the president of the bloc of deputies of the ruling coalition Frente de Todos and had resigned from his post as president a few weeks ago in protest against what he called “the return of IMF” to Argentina.

While the meeting was going on, thousands of protesters belonging to various social movements took to the streets, questioning the agreement and demanding cancelation of the debt, shouting slogans such as “Not in our name” and “IMF out of Argentina.”

Although the protests were generally peaceful, a group of protesters approached the parliament building and threw stones at the windows and doors of the premises.

RELATED CONTENT: Argentina: The IMF Question

The Vice President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, released a video on Twitter, showing the results of the attack, which caused destructions and a fire in her office.

 

In the video, the vice president stated, “Paradoxically, it was my office that was attacked. The office of the one who stood up to the vulture funds, who kept the International Monetary Fund out of the country, continuing the legacy of my companion Néstor Kirchner, and who also decided to build the Frente de Todos, with which Mauricio Macri was defeated. Paradoxically or intentionally…”

She also mentioned that at the time of the attack she was inside her office, together with Senators Oscar Parrilli and Anabel Fernández Sagasti, and with her son, Deputy Máximo Kirchner.

Protesters throw stones at the Argentine Parliament while deputies discuss the government’s agreement with the IMF, Buenos Aires, March 10, 2022. Photo: AP

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It was the late Néstor Kirchner, former president of Argentina and Cristina Fernández’s husband, who restructured and repaid all IMF loans that were accumulated during the earlier decades, and did not contract any new loans from IMF during his term. Similarly, during the two terms of Cristina Fernández as president, the government of Argentina had no pending debt with the IMF. Right-wing President Macri, who came to power after Fernández, brought the IMF back to the country, recklessly contracting nearly $57 billion in loans, through processes plagued with irregularities on both sides—his government and the IMF.

In January this year, the current government of President Alberto Fernández reached an agreement with the IMF regarding the repayment of the loan, through a refinancing by the IMF itself. This led to questioning of the government’s policies by various social and political organizations of Argentina, many of which had supported Fernández’s presidential campaign, as he had promised to solve the debt crisis.

Protesters raise a banner that says “We don’t owe, we don’t pay,” while another banner in the background proclaims “The debt is with the people, not with the IMF.” Photo: Resumen Latinoamericano

Cristina Fernández’s wing within the Frente de Todos coalition has opposed President Fernández’s approach towards the IMF debt due to the massive impact that the repayment of the debt will have on the most vulnerable sectors. This has created an unofficial split in the coalition, and made Cristina Fernández a leading figure in the polls for the next presidential elections in 2023.

 

Featured image: Thousands of Argentines protest as the Chamber of Deputies discusses the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 10, 2022. Photo: Resumen Latinoamericano

Special for Orinoco Tribune by Saheli Chowdhury

OT/SC/JRE

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Saheli Chowdhury
+ posts

Saheli Chowdhury is from West Bengal, India, studying physics for a profession, but with a passion for writing. She is interested in history and popular movements around the world, especially in the Global South. She is a contributor  and works for Orinoco Tribune.

Saheli Chowdhury

Saheli Chowdhury is from West Bengal, India, studying physics for a profession, but with a passion for writing. She is interested in history and popular movements around the world, especially in the Global South. She is a contributor  and works for Orinoco Tribune.