With the end of the turmoil in the Peronism that currently governs Argentina, caused by the impact of the defeat in the primaries of the legislative election, the presidential cabinet was officially overhauled. There are seven new ministers in the Argentine government (Coalition Frente de Todos – FdT), and the next few weeks should be of announcements of measures for retirement and income tax.
The first announcement was about the minimum wage, a topic that began to be worked on this Tuesday (21), a day after the official inauguration of the new cabinet. The Minister of Labor, Claudio Moroni, and the National Council for Employment, Productivity and Minimum, Vital and Mobile Wage established a 35% supplement on the amount agreed in April this year. With the adjustment, carried out in installments, the salary will reach 33 thousand Argentine pesos in February, the equivalent of R$ 942.
The April agreement was received with rejection by workers’ organizations, and reflects something that, now, becomes an impossible cry not to be heard, as the candidate for deputy for the FdT, Victoria Freire, points out. “The election result and the change of cabinet are an opportunity. After two isolated years, we effectively lost touch with reality, despite the fact that social organizations have always supported the territories, it was a time when we didn’t listen to each other, we didn’t meet,” he says.
what the ballot boxes say
In the annual measurement, the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Indec) revealed that Argentina faced 44% of poverty at the end of 2020, based on the population’s income. A new indicator brought a more tragic figure: 49.6% of multidimensional poverty in the country at the end of 2020, according to the Council for the Coordination of Social Policies. This index uses a different criterion – which does not invalidate the Indec – which crosses aspects such as housing, employment and health.
Given this scenario, the FdT’s common diagnosis of the message from the polls is the need to pay attention to the grassroots and to the campaign motto that led the bloc to government: that the last be the first.
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However, disagreements were many about the next steps to be taken. A sector of the government, sympathetic to a more aggressive economic and distributive policy, criticizes the posture of the current Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, as is the case of the national deputy for the FdT Hugo Yasky, secretary general of the Central de Trabalhadores de Argentina (CTA) , guild that represented at the meeting this Tuesday to discuss the minimum wage.
“The Minister of Economy supports a more conservative position on the resources that can be applied to the reactivation and demands of the population”, points out Yasky. “We believe, in some sectors of the Frente de Todos, that it is necessary to take more distributive measures, to face the conservative position that sectors of economic power impose on Argentina, that we cannot have a fiscal deficit or finance social demands,” he adds.
Argentina’s strong crisis adds to its equation the debt of 45 billion dollars left by former president Mauricio Macri with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the paralysis of economic activities during the pandemic.
According to economist Sergio Chouza, the government made a series of mistakes seeking the necessary inflow of dollars into the country: cuts in retirement, insufficient assistance and financial transfer measures for the vulnerable population, wrong incentives to accelerate imports.
“There was a very optimistic interpretation of the agreement with private creditors [da dívida com o FMI]. They were confident that it would give good results in the provisions of macro variables, in particular in the quotation of alternative dollar markets, which is extremely high. This overestimation had consequences on domestic prices,” points out Chouza.
Relaunch of government
Without wanting to prolong the discussion and tensions of last week, President Alberto Fernández announced the changes in the ministries at 22:30 on Friday (17): Foreign Affairs, Justice, Security, Agriculture, Education, Science and Technology and Communication and Press, in addition to the replacement of the Chief of Staff. The new ministers took the swearing-in oath this Monday (20), a ceremony that the president opened dedicating the first words on the institutional crisis of the FdT.
“Many times, when a leader is not chosen with votes, he gets angry with people. When they don’t vote for us, we get angry with ourselves, because we did something wrong,” said Fernández. “The debates have never affected me or worried me. I am president of the Justicialista Party. I am much more concerned about a silent political movement, which does not discuss, than one that reflects”, he concluded, followed by loud applause from the public of officials who formed the audience at the Bicentennial Museum.
Despite the prevailing reading of the “victory” of Vice President Cristina Kirchner’s wing, who pressed the cabinet change with the resignation provisions of several officials, the president’s core economic team has remained intact.
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Amidst the tensions, some sectors outside the FdT took the opportunity to criticize the advances in gender policies driven by the coalition, such as a “loss of focus” by the government: the abortion law, the document for non-binary people, retirement for care tasks and the trans work quota, to name a few.
“Gender policies seem to contrast with the difficult social reality, and in fact, what we are proposing is that there is no conflict of agendas”, explains FdT deputy candidate Victoria Freire. “All political, economic and social progress fundamentally implies , an improvement in life for women, LGBT people, who are impoverished, who have more difficulty getting a job, who have suffered from the pandemic carrying out unpaid and unrecognized household chores,” she says.
After the reconfiguration of the presidential cabinet, a new debate was opened within the coalition – and also externally –, given the deficit on the issue of gender parity and by one of the new ministers, contrary to the right to abortion: Juan Manzur, new Chief of Cabinet.
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“Clearly, the fight for the right to abortion was something that we organized to conquer, without having all the wills in favor, and we achieved enough wills with an immense social mobilization”, says Freire. “We are going to live with contrary political contexts, but, at present, everyone has the obligation to guarantee the law, and that is the big difference. The institutionality constituted on any particular opinion”, he emphasizes.
Mansur was governor of the northern province of Tucuman and, as a non-porteño prime minister, his presence in the cabinet is also a quest for territorial decentralization in governance spaces.
“There is a lot of expectation about the new cabinet and the joint action that we can achieve articulating with social organizations, proposing a greater reach in the territory and establishing this priority that was part of the electoral contract that the last and the last be the first”, concludes Freire.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla