Argentina. According to
COUNTRYAAH, President Fernando de la Rúa's first year in
power has been dominated by economic problems, and in
November he warned that Argentina was facing an economic
disaster. The $ 1.4 billion budget cuts that he was forced
to implement at the beginning of his term to cope with a
growing financial deficit were followed by further $ 600
million reductions in May. The problems have been
exacerbated by the fact that the economic recovery has been
worse than expected. At the end of the year, central
government debt amounted to $ 123 billion, and next year
almost $ 20 billion is only needed for interest payments. At
the same time as 85% of export income goes to debt payments,
growth is not expected to exceed 1.6% in 2001.
As a remedy, both tax and labor law reforms have been
implemented, as well as a five-point program for social and
economic development. But the prospects for a strengthened
budget do not look promising; Neither tax increases
(dependent on growth, which is currently low),
privatizations (not much left to sell), loans (already
over-utilized) or expenditure reductions (leading to social
unrest) can be seriously considered. An agreement with the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $ 13 billion loan to
deal with the acute budget crisis was concluded in November.
The provinces, which are financially dependent on the
central government, accepted a halt to increases in their
state contributions, but two general strikes as well as
protests and several riots with death victims occurred
during the year, especially in the province of Salta in the
northwest. Unemployment remains unchanged at a high level;
In total, 30% of the workforce is unemployed or
underemployed, and 18% of the population is said to live on
less than $ 2 per day.
1984-89 Transition to parliamentary democracy
The new head of UCR, Raúl Alfonsín, got 52% of the vote
against the 40% of the Peronists. During the election
campaign, Alfonsín revealed the existence of a secret
agreement between the military and the peronists' LO (CGT).
He advanced on a message of legality and life to chance and
death. That gave him the victory - even in much of the
industrial area around Greater Buenos Aires, which had
traditionally been a Peronist bastion.
The new government went for a frontal attack on
inflation, which had reached an alarming level - 688% by the
end of 1984. In 1985 it stabilized at around 25% monthly.
Public spending showed a deficit of $ 70 million annually
and was therefore drastically cut. The military's expenses,
for example. reduced from 30% to 18% of the total budget. At
the same time, financial citizenship reaped profits greater
than anywhere else in the world.
The share of the working class and middle classes of
national income fell from 48% to 35%. In this situation, the
Peronist CGT tried to play on several horses. a strike among
the smaller farmers, in return for recognizing CGT's wage
demands and professional control over "social projects" -
especially in health care and national tourism.
In mid-June 1985, the authorities launched the Austral
Plan, which froze the prices, service tariffs, salaries and
at the same time introduced a new coin - Austral - which was
linked to the dollar.
In the conflict with Chile over the Beagle Channel in the
southernmost part of the country, an agreement was signed
that reduced the risk of war between the two countries. The
Vatican had acted as mediator in the dispute, and the
agreement had been sent to a referendum and here approved
with 80% of the vote.
Studies from the Comisión Nacional sobre Desaparición
de Personas(CONADEP, the National Commission for the
Discovery of Persons) provided new ammunition to the public
trial against the nine dictatorship commander accused of
giving orders to the criminal acts carried out during the
dictatorship. The verdict on several high-ranking military
personnel - including President Videla - and the subsequent
prosecution of other officers led to severe military
pressure. During Easter 1987, several military units drove
out of their barracks toward the capital to put power behind
their demands for further litigation and amnesty to the
convicted. Although the military rebels constituted only a
military minority, afterwards great questions were raised
about the willingness of the "loyal" forces to fight the
President Alfonsín convened for a demonstration at the
Plaza de Mayo in the center of Buenos Aires in defense of
democracy. A call that was followed by 1 million
Argentinians. The crisis was resolved on Palm Sunday when
Alfonsín personally went into dialogue with the rebels in
the Campo de Mayo military deployment. Nevertheless, several
of the senior military personnel were replaced in the
following days and the president drafted a congressional
proposal for "imposing obedience" exempting most of the
military accused or convicted of human rights violations on
the grounds that they acted on orders from above.
During the following two years, inflation continued to
reduce real wages for the majority of the population.
Between December 83 and April 89, thousands of jobs were
eliminated, wages had dropped drastically and the recession
worsened the situation for SMEs. CGT was at the forefront of
opposition to Alfonsín's economic policy and conducted 14
general strikes during the period. The social costs of this
development were still rising, reaching a point where around
10 million - almost 30% of the population - was largely
marginalized in the consumer market.
In the summer of 88, another military uprising - albeit
of minor importance - was carried out in the Monte Caseros
facility. Its leader was Lieutenant Colonel Aldo Rico, who
was put on trial and thrown out of the army. In the winter
of that year, Colonel Mohamed Alí Seineldín was at the head
of the third military uprising. The rebels could explain
that the purpose of this rebellion was a loose internal
contradiction in the military, split between a "nationalist"
trend that backed around Seineldín, and another trend of
"liberal" observance that followed the army leadership.
Although both rebellions were well enough overcome, the
internal contradictions remained unsolved.
In February 89, an armed group from the left-wing
organization Movimiento Todos por la Patria (MTP,
the Movement for the Fatherland) launched an attack on a
military raid on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, allegedly to
prevent a military coup. MTP had until then operated in full
legality. The repression was completely out of proportion
and the survivors were sentenced to lengthy prison
sentences. Some of the surrendered members were executed and