Eduardo de Pedro: “The agreement with the IMF avoids the economic catastrophe in Argentina” | International
Edward wado De Pedro is the key man in the Argentine government. Son of the disappeared, a child stolen by the dictatorship - his mother was machine-gunned by the repressors after putting him in the bathtub and protecting him with her riddled body - he is Cristina Kirchner's key man in the Executive led by Alberto Fernández since 2020. very few interviews, but on a trip to Spain to visit the Mobile in Barcelona and meet with businessmen, he takes the opportunity to explain to EL PAÍS his position on the agreement with the IMF that has just been signed and has yet to be voted on in the Argentine Congress, in a very delicate balance within the government coalition.
Ask. How is Argentina? What have you told the businessmen who ask you on this trip?
Answer. We had a complex situation with external restrictions as a result of a government that hyper-indebted Argentina [el anterior, de Mauricio Macri, de 2015 a 2019]. But after four years of a government that destroyed the productive system and two years of a pandemic, we are on the road to recovery and there are many opportunities. 5G, for example, is a key issue for Argentina, which is why the trip to Mobile. We are in numbers higher than pre-pandemic. In 2021 we grew to 10%. We have a record of gas production and agricultural exports, we increased that of oil, metalworking or lithium.
P. Europe is in shock over the war in Ukraine. Is Argentina with Putin?
R. The president of the nation and the foreign minister were forceful in condemning the invasion of Ukraine. Argentina defends the principles of territorial integrity, respect for human rights, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Let us remember that Argentina continues to claim sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, just as we also support Spain's claim for Gibraltar. We are against wars.
P. So why did Alberto Fernández go to Moscow on February 4 and show such closeness to Putin?
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R. The trip was part of a tour with another connotation, which had nothing to do with the discussion of the conflict with Ukraine.
P. It was a mistake?
R. I believe that the president and the foreign minister were clear in maintaining Argentina's position on Ukraine.
P. Could this trip cause the US to harden its position on Argentina in the IMF?
R. We have just reached an agreement with the IMF that has now been sent to Congress. I don't think it's good for international organizations that financial organizations are used to condition the freedom of countries.
We want to pay. The question is whether the IMF is willing to let Argentina grow in order to meet
Edward of Peter
P. But where is Argentina now, closer to Russia or the US?
R. We are committed to strengthening the South American region, to integrating the countries into an alliance that generates political and economic stability like Europe, with a single currency and solidarity that was shown in the pandemic. We bet on getting the 50% we have in Argentina out of poverty, and Lula wants the same [da Silva] and many others. We want to generate strong economies, strong democracies, with a much lower level of dependence on the powers that play in the region. The Argentine Government wants to have autonomy to be able to solve the problems.
P. What is your opinion on the IMF agreement that your government has just presented?
R. The debt that the Government of Cambiemos took [Macri] it was irresponsible. They were more than 44,000 million dollars, and 9 out of 10 were used to finance capital flight. None of that money was used to build the necessary infrastructure or strengthen the health system, or the scientific one. It is a figure similar to what Spain will receive to digitize its entire economy and make the energy transition, about 47,000 million. In Argentina it was used to flee capital. There is not a brick, a computer, a new wind farm.
P. Is it a good or a bad deal?
R. It is an agreement that avoids an immediate economic catastrophe in Argentina. Now begins a stage where we will continue to need international support so that the IMF continues to contemplate the Government's will to solve the problem, but in a situation that changed as a result of this war.
P. What is good and what is bad?
R. The agreement is the beginning of the solution. Avoid an immediate catastrophe. Now the IMF has to understand the new stage in which Argentina needs to maintain the level of growth and social inclusion and lower the levels of poverty. We need the Fund to take into account the new situation in the context of a war that is changing the world economy.
P. What is the risk?
R. Just as the EU in 2009 treated countries in a certain way and in 2020 the pandemic changed the way of solving problems, we need the IMF to have a different attitude than the one it had in 2009 with Greece and Portugal and understand the new reality of countries. We need to be allowed to grow in order to comply.
“Cristina Kirchner presides over the Senate. There are discussions, but the one who makes the decisions is the president”.
Edward of Peter
P. Is this agreement going to come out in Congress? It is unclear whether his own group would even support him.
R. This agreement modifies the agreement made by Cambiemos in 2018. If the vote in Congress does not come out, the 2018 agreement would remain in force. We appeal to the responsibility of the opposition and trust that they will accompany the solution to an agreement that they took into account. 2018.
P. And your group? La Cámpora, the group that you lead, these days sent very harsh messages on social networks against the IMF.
R. La Cámpora has recalled the words of Néstor Kirchner where there are many examples that the IMF did not contribute to solving the problems but ended up deepening inequalities. We continue to appeal to economic independence and political sovereignty as essential for countries to grow. There are certain conditions of the IMF that do not agree with the reality that we live in Argentina.
P. Will the Government, with the internal divisions that exist, have the strength to apply the Fund agreement in the remaining two years?
R. It is a government that received the country with strong restrictions, which after three months had the strength to face a pandemic without external help like the one that Europe had. We strengthened the health system, we made the largest free vaccination plan in history. We were able to sustain the production system. We maintained the purchasing power of Argentines with a universal income. This Government will have the strength of a people that has always known how to come out of the worst crises.
P. Is Argentina going to pay the IMF?
R. The Peronist governments always paid the debts generated by others. Nestor Kirchner canceled [en 2006] total debt to the IMF. We want to return to that autonomy. The Argentine government is willing to pay. The question is whether the IMF is willing to let Argentina grow in order to comply.
P. Is the scenario ruled out that the plan does not come out in Congress or there is a default like in 2001?
R. I remember 2001 well because I ended up in the hospital after being beaten by the police near Plaza de Mayo. Today the Argentine opponents are the same ones who ruled in the 2001 crisis and ended up leaving. We hope that they will not again be responsible for generating a crisis like in 2001.
“The president was forceful in rejecting the invasion of Ukraine. The trip to Moscow was in another context”
Edward of Peter
P. Maximo Kirchner [hijo de Cristina] he abandoned the leadership of his parliamentary group as a rejection of the agreement with the IMF. How should we interpret that?
R. Máximo did not leave the Frente de Todos, he is still part of it. He made the presidency of the bloc available to the president because of differences in the way in which the agreement with the IMF was reached.
P. Does that put the vote at risk?
R. That means that the President of the Nation has total control over the presidency of the block of deputies. That strengthens the president's position in Congress. Máximo is respectful of the institutions and put the President of the Nation in tune with the presidency of the bloc in the Chamber of Deputies.
P. Did you agree with that decision?
R. It was a very personal decision by Máximo Kirchner.
P. You resigned after the latest electoral results, bad for Peronism, forced a change of government and continued. How is your relationship now with President Fernández?
R. Today the relationship is very good. In every political coalition there are internal discussions. We promote them. The discussion is the richest part, from there better decisions are made, we do not see it as a problem. When discussion is suppressed, worse decisions are made.
P. Should Alberto Fernández be a candidate for re-election?
R. In Argentina, governments with good management reelect their presidents.
P. But it has had a lot of wear and tear.
The debt that Macri took was irresponsible. The Peronists always pay the debt of others
Edward of Peter
R. The natural attrition of all governments during a pandemic and even more so considering the economic situation with which we arrived. We believe that the economic recovery will strengthen the figure of the president.
P. And the relationship between Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner? Some say that it is practically nil.
R. Argentina is a presidential country, management is in charge of the president. The vice president presides over the Senate. It is a relationship that falls within the logic of the coalition. There are debates and discussions, but the one who makes the decisions is the president.
P. Does Argentina have a solution?
R. Yes, it can be fixed because it has the experience. Between 2003 and 2015 Argentina created 4 million new jobs, included 6 million people in the retirement system, 275,000 companies were created, it got out of debt, we entered the group of satellite-producing countries, we created 20 new universities, we built hospitals. It was not a perfect period, mistakes are always made, but the middle class expanded, we lifted millions of Argentines out of poverty.
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