Alberto Fernández assures that Cristina Kirchner will support Argentina’s agreement with the IMF | International

Alberto Fernández arrives on February 7, 2022 on an official visit to Barbados, the last stop on a tour of Russia and China.
Alberto Fernández arrives on February 7, 2022 on an official visit to Barbados, the last stop on a tour of Russia and China.HANDOUT (AFP)

Problems haunt Alberto Fernández away from home. Political urgencies and a series of unforced diplomatic errors forced the president of Argentina to bring forward the balance of the tour that took him to Russia and China. From Barbados, the last stop on his trip, he relativized this Monday the impact that the criticism he launched from Moscow to the White House had on the United States. And he removed steam from the crisis that opened in his government coalition the agreement that he signed at the end of January with the International Monetary Fund to refinance a debt of 44,500 million dollars. He then revealed that he had spoken by phone from Beijing with her vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a critic of that agreement, and trusted that the deputies who follow her will vote for the memorandum with the Fund in Congress.

Fernández is caught between two fronts, one internal and one external. Internally, he is experiencing the disaffection of Kirchnerism, the main force of the Peronist coalition that brought him to power in 2019. The agreement with the IMF, signed days before flying to Moscow, resulted in the resignation of Máximo Kirchner, son of the former president, as head of the ruling party in the Chamber of Deputies. Máximo Kirchner said that he was not willing to work for the parliamentary approval of an agreement that he rejected and that opened the umpteenth crisis within the Argentine government. Cristina Kirchner has remained silent ever since. President Fernández spoke this Monday of “nuances” regarding the agreement with the IMF and even admitted that there could be Kirchnerist deputies who will vote against it. “I spoke with Cristina and told her how we were doing,” Fernandez said. “The truth is, I have no doubt that our political force will accompany us” in Congress, he explained by videoconference to journalists from Argentine media who consulted him from Buenos Aires.

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The agreement with the IMF, which still has to be approved by the board of the multilateral, is crucial so that Argentina does not go into default in March and further aggravate the economic crisis it is going through. But the firm deepened the differences that Fernández had already accumulated with his Kirchnerism partners in the face of any understanding with the multilateral that involved a fiscal adjustment. The resignation of Máximo Kirchner and the silence of Cristina Kirchner triggered all kinds of speculation about how far an increasingly fragile alliance will resist.

Without the consensus of his own political force, Fernández needs more than ever the support of the White House to resolve in Washington the debt that Argentina assumed with the Fund in 2018, during the government of Mauricio Macri. That is why he surprised his own and others by the criticism that the president launched against the United States and the IMF from Moscow. As he offered Putin to make Argentina Russia’s “gateway” to Latin America, he proclaimed the need to reduce Argentina’s “dependence” on Washington.

Fernández left on his own initiative a script written by the Foreign Ministry that was limited to defending multilateralism and good relations with Russia to instead present himself as the main ally of the Kremlin in the region. The Argentine opted for an alienation without concessions at a time when Russia is tensing the relationship with the West to the maximum due to its aspirations over Ukraine. In his virtual press conference from Barbados, Fernández said, however, that his statements had not caused any problem with Washington. “I did not receive any statement from the United States for what I said. I feel that I did not say anything new nor do I think that anyone has been bothered by that. I received no complaints or questioning,” Fernández said. “I maintain that with the United States we must have serious and responsible relations as with any country in the world. We believe in multilateralism,” he added.

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Before landing in Bridgetown, Fernández was in China. On Sunday he signed Argentina’s accession to the so-called Silk Road, an initiative by Xi Jinping to strengthen the economic relationship with third countries and to which 140 countries already adhere. Fernández took from Beijing investment promises of 23,000 million dollars in infrastructure works and the possibility of enlarging the agreement that today allows the Central Bank of Argentina to add 20,000 million dollars (in yuan) from the Banco Popular de Argentina to its reserve balance. China.

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This Tuesday, the Argentine president will meet with the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, and with representatives of the countries that make up the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). This last scale has little to do with the previous ones and is, if there are no last-minute surprises, less risky in diplomatic terms: it is the debut of the Argentine president as president pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), charge he received on January 7 at the hands of Mexico.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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