This week has led to an interesting balancing act for the “labour movement,” massively mobilizing against inflation while simultaneously trying to show support for the government. The ruling Frente de Todos coalition, led by Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, ultimately runs a Peronist administration, so it cannot really be accused by the country’s largest and most powerful unions of being responsible for the galloping inflation which gnaws at the wages of the workers. (It’s those pesky speculators, of course.) It’s also interesting to see organizations like the umbrella union group the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and even members of the Moyano clan (Teamsters) lending their support to Sergio Massa, the recently anointed “Super-Minister” in charge of an expanded economic team and probably the Peronist with the longest and most extensive relationships with the private sector. Trusting Massa is an even bigger leap of faith for Cristina, who has tasted betrayal at the hands of the Tigre man in the past, so much so that her former chief of staff campaigned to rid the public administration of members of La Cámpora political organization – headed by Máximo Kirchner – while enclosing corrupt officials in a thinly veiled message for Kirchnerites. What is the alternative, Fernández de Kirchner probably dreamed up in his time alone, a return to the days of Mauricio Macri, political persecution and all?
Curiously, it seems that several of the main constituents of the Frente de Todos have recognized that, at least for now, they are all in the same boat. And this boat seems to be drifting at sea. Massa, who had been trying for some time to move from the Chamber of Deputies to a position in the executive, was finally given the helm. Bravely, and perhaps even recklessly, he took over as a mighty storm rolled in and he at least made it out in one piece. Martín Guzmán’s main problem was the lack of political support from the ruling coalition’s strongest faction, as CFK lost confidence after the electoral collapse of the 2021 PASO primaries. Silvina Batakis, his short-lived successor, lasted less than a month in the Ministry of Economy as she was unable to muster a certain level of confidence in the market, largely because no one believed that Fernández de Kirchner supported her. Enter Massa, the third stage of the triumvirate that makes up the Frente de Todos, and there is nowhere to hide and no one else to blame. The massive run on the peso and Argentinian sovereign debt temporarily ended as the market appeared to recalibrate expectations. At least the Tigre man has the political clout to execute, and the explicit support of Alberto and Cristina – that was the reading.
Does this assumption have any basis? Since taking office in a ridiculously party mood, Massa has managed to create a temporary respite from the constant feeling that things are about to explode, but not much beyond that. He finally moved forward with the long-avoided increase in utility prices in order to reduce subsidies and thus the deficit, an agreement between Guzmán and the International Monetary Fund that was systematically blocked by Kirchnerism. In doing so, he chased away two mid-level Kirchnerites who had become big boulders in place of Guzmán, undersecretary of electrical energy Federico Basualdo and his supposed boss, Darío Martinez. At the same time, the government launched a ridiculous campaign of public shaming with Malena Galmarini, head of AySA’s water utility – who is also Massa’s wife – calling out residents of three luxury buildings for unfairly receiving subsidies for water while the page/12 The C5N newspaper and news channel have sued top businessmen, politicians and athletes who received grants, including Carlos Tévez and Mirtha Legrand. What was even more pathetic than this attempt to distract public opinion was the fact that it was the Kirchnerians who defended a system of public subsidies of a regressive nature. Blame the rich and famous.
The “super” minister promised to fight inflation, end monetary financing of the deficit, help the Central Bank increase its reserves and keep the economy growing. It’s hard to imagine how we’re going to achieve this, but at least it doesn’t have the President and Vice President fighting in the background, using it as a punching bag. Alberto seems to have finally lost all semblance of power while Cristina retreated to the background again, seemingly giving Massa the rope to hang herself or pull the economy out of its vortex of doom. His main concern has now returned to the judicial front, where prosecutor Diego Luciani has issued an impassioned indictment against Fernández de Kirchner and his alleged associate Lázaro Báez.
While it’s hard to imagine Cristina behind bars, one version that’s growing among the ‘unknowns’ is that she will be found guilty of leading an illicit association by the second oral court. Accusing the judiciary of “lawfare”, his legal team would then appeal and the case would be taken up by the Court of Cassation, which would confirm the decision leading to a new appeal and the ball being returned to the Supreme Court. The Court of Cassation’s decision would not be ready until 2024, which would give CFK time to execute its retirement strategy in the province of Buenos Aires before next year’s elections, securing a seat in the Senate and, most importantly, immunity, until at least 2029, by which time she will be 76 and, even if ultimately convicted by the Supreme Court, she would only face house arrest.
While Massa deals with the Ministry of Economy to try to pull the rabbit out of the hat and become an acceptable presidential candidate, Cristina has focused on the judiciary and Alberto in zombie mode, the opposition seems to be imitating Count Ugolino in Dante’s ninth circle. hell. The aforementioned earl was thrown there for political treason and his punishment was to eat the back of an enemy’s head like a wild animal for eternity. by Dante reverses could also be used to illustrate what is happening within the ranks of the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition, where infighting has become the name of the game. Elisa ‘Lilita’ Carrió was the latest to take up arms against her relatives, while Macri toyed with a candidacy that Horacio Rodríguez Larreta considers his own since his former mentor lost the 2019 elections. Fragmentation is a very real possibility, and it could even pave the way for an unlikely victory Peronist, or the emergence of an outsider like the liberal economist Javier Miliei. Time will tell us. Until then, it’s Massa’s ball.