As Argentina votes, neoliberalism threatens its return

On Sunday, Argentinians head to the polls in a run-off presidential election narrowed down to two candidates – Daniel Scioli of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner’s party, Front for Victory (Frente para la Victoria) and Mauricio Macri, a right wing neoliberal from the Let’s Change Alliance (Alianza Cambiemos). A win for Macri would result in grave impacts for working class people in Argentina and across the continent.

In the twelve years of Kirchner presidencies – current President Cristina Kirchner succeeded her husband, the late President Nestor Kirchner, in 2007 – unemployment fell from 26% to 6.9% and poverty fell from 54% to 6.5% Internationally, Argentina showed solidarity to Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador though important ALBA trade agreements, improving the quality of life for millions across the continent.

Diego Garcia Schmucler, a political scientist and economist from the University of Buenos Aires, spoke with Liberation News, “On November 22nd, Argentinians aren’t voting just for a candidate, we’re voting for a model for our country.”

Macri has proposed policies that would result in vast cuts to public universities, social security for seniors, health care programs, public education, infrastructure, and science and technology, and a significant drop in workers’ real wages given projections for inflation and currency devaluation.

According to Garcia Schmucler, studies indicate that a Macri win would result in a rise in unemployment from 6.8% to 15% in 2016 and would reach 20% by 2017, with all of the accompanying consequences, like higher indices of violence and crime, fewer young people studying, and high indices of poverty and social exclusion.

Rallies, events, and graffiti campaigns have sprung up around Argentina and in fellow ALBA countries like Bolivia and Venezuela, supporting Scioli’s campaign and in solidarity with the Argentinian people at this critical time.

Garcia Schmucler told Liberation News, “While it’s true that Kirchnerism has governed with a mix of errors and good decisions during these last twelve years, it represents a project that’s committed to taking care of the employment and the wages of Argentinian workers, that defends the purchasing power of the wage worker, that, with failures and successes, represents a project, a model, that promotes that distribution of wealth and the inclusion of all sectors of society, against a model that prioritizes the interests of the ones that have the most, of the financial markets, the IMF, and the economic corporations represented by Macri.”

As Venezuela soon goes to the polls, with other key elections in the next two years, the outcome of Sunday’s election in Argentina may have broad-reaching ramifications as to whether Latin America may regress into the hands of neoliberal capital or if the left-wing tide and its countless gains for working class people will be defended.

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