Things That Matter

Argentina Has A New President And With An Economy On The Brink Here’s Why It’s So Important

As an economic crisis grips the country, and the Argentine Peso reaches new lows, the country has sworn in a new President who represents a return to formerly popular ideals. President Fernandez is seen as a token bearer of the Peronist movement and many welcome his return to power, along with that of the Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (who herself served two terms as President.)

Argentinians are anxious for change and see the return to Peronist policies as their best chance at achieving success. However, not everyone is excited for the change in government, including neighboring governments in Brazil and Chile.

Last week, Argentina swore in its latest President and Vice President for a four year term.

Credit: Alberto Raggio / Agence Presse

Alberto Fernández was sworn in as president of Argentina, vowing to restore growth and redistribute wealth by reversing the austerity policies of his pro-business predecessor, Mauricio Macri.

The 60-year-old veteran politician led the nationalist Peronist coalition to victory in October’s election with promises that the state would provide for Argentines. In his speech Tuesday before a raucous Congress, he said his compatriots had rejected a four-year experiment with market reforms under Mr. Macri that started hopefully but ended with high inflation, indebtedness and a shrinking economy.

“Those who are trapped in poverty and marginality will be a top priority,” Mr. Fernández said after the presidential sash was placed over his shoulder. at the country’s ornate National Congress building. “We are receiving a fragile country, wounded and on its knees.”He vowed to protect the poorest Argentines through welfare policies including loans and support programs for the unemployed along with broader health and food assistance. Lawmakers and supporters chanted the “Peronist march,” a partisan anthem that declares loyalty to the working class and rejects foreign capital.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel traveled to Buenos Aires for the inauguration ceremony. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro did not attend, however. Bolsonaro has disagreed with Fernandez publicly. This marks the first time since 2002 that a Brazilian president has not attended an inauguration in Argentina.

His election, along with that of Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, marks a return to left-leaning Peronism.

Fernandez is considered part of the Peronist movement, which supports the political and social policies of the former general and President Juan Peron. Peron led Argentina from 1946 to 1955, and for two more years in the 1970s.

Yes, the same party as the much beloved Eva Perón.

The new president inherits a major economic crisis stemming from huge amounts of debt that is wearing down the Argentinian economy.

Credit: Albert Raggio / Agence Presse

Fernandez follows outgoing president Mauricio Macri, whose austerity policies aimed at cutting costs and paying debt were unpopular. It is unclear how new policies will affect the country’s creditors and farmers, whose grain exports are important to the economy.

Supporters of Fernandez hope he can beat down Argentina’s high inflation rate, which is near 50 percent. Poverty also is increasing as the economy remains in a recession.

Economic experts say his administration will need to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund to restructure more than $100 billion in loans.

But many are also looking to the President Fernandez to help bring change not only to Argentina but to the rest of Latin America with progressive policies such as legalized abortion.

He will send a bill to congress which, if approved, would make Argentina the first major Latin American nation with legalised abortion. The ruling in the 45 million-strong country would follow decisions by its much smaller neighbour Uruguay, which legalised the practice in 2012, and Cuba, in 1965.

“I am an activist for putting an end to the criminalisation of abortion,” Fernández said in an interview with the daily Página/12. “There’s going to be a bill of law sent by the president.”

The announcement would represent a major U-turn for official policy in Argentina, which has steadfastly opposed legalisation. A bill presented by women’s rights activists was rejected by the senate by 38 votes to 31 last year, after the president at the time, Mauricio Macri, refused to endorse it.

Fernández’s pledge was welcomed by equality campaigners in Argentina, where the struggle to end discrimination and violence against women has sparked a mass movement including a large number of women’s marches.

He’s already reversed sanctions against Venezuela’s Maduro regime.

The sanctions applied by Argentina against the regime of Nicolas Maduro within the framework of the Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance lasted less than a week.

Fernandez had announced that after his victory in the presidential elections, he would create a new mediating body led by Argentina, Mexico, and Uruguay; a kind of Contact Group that condemns sanctions calls for dialogue in Venezuela and abandons the measures taken within the framework of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR).

Meanwhile, his son (who is a famous drag queen) is lighting up social media with amazing inauguration looks.

Estanislao Fernández, the 24-year-old gay son of Argentina’s new president Alberto Fernández who is also a popular drag queen named Dyhzy, appeared at his father’s inauguration and stood for official photos with a rainbow pocket square which he later revealed to be a folded-up LGBTQ Pride flag. Argentine press and social media reacted immediately with messages of support after seeing the rainbow in his pocket.

Alberto Fernández has called his son “his greatest pride.”

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