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News > Latin America

Argentine President Macri: Soccer is Easier than Governing

  • Russian President Putin and his Argentinian counterpart Macri attend a signing ceremony in Moscow

    Russian President Putin and his Argentinian counterpart Macri attend a signing ceremony in Moscow | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 January 2018

In a visit to Moscow, Argentine President Mauricio Macri tells media that he's decreasing inflation and creating jobs. 

Argentine president Mauricio Macri tells RT media that playing soccer is “easier” than governing.

Argentine Union Members Encouraged to Disaffiliate

Macri, also former president of the Buenos Aires soccer federation, Boca Juniors, is in Moscow to solidify negotiations with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to construct a Russian nuclear plant in Argentina.

Macri, who entered office in 2015, told the RT reporter that “we’re decreasing inflation, perhaps less than what we had hoped for.”

Inflation is down from its 41 percent mark in 2016 even falling to around 18 percent midway through 2017. Yet, it rose again drastically to 24.8 percent by the end of the year, rising 3 percent in the month of December alone.

The Argentine head of state said that “In Argentina, we’re creating more jobs than losing. … This is the route we have to take.”

While private sector construction jobs are up by approximately 8 percent in 2107, overall unemployment has risen since he took office. The national unemployment rate at the beginning of 2017 was up to 9.2 percent, up from the 2015 6 percent national rate.

The government is actively adding to national unemployment.

Today the Argentine National Institute of Industrial Technology is bracing itself for a layoff of 260 of its employees next week. This follows a rash of public sector layoffs in the last two months.

Just as the year closed, the national government decided to not renew over 1,000 contract jobs that expired Dec. 31.

During the first week of January, 128 Agricultural Sanitary and Quality Service lost their job on notification, as did 526 workers of the Buenos Aires municipality, and nearly 400 employees of the National Radio of Argentina.

The government is also pushing to weaken unions.

The provincial government of Buenos Aires dissolved its branch of the Provincial Workers’ Union (PWU) on Dec. 29 leaving its 380 members scrambling for employment. Argentina is home to some of the longest standing, resilient labor unions in Latin America.

Earlier this month the administration began coercing unionized teachers Buenos Aires, Argentina to disaffiliate from their trade union via the Culture and Education ministry website.

Today in Argentina’s coastal city of Puerto Madryn, union construction members are protesting today looking for a way to prevent local contracts from going to outsider, private companies. The Argentine Construction Worker Union (UOCRA), says that last year a state building was constructed in the city by a private, Cordoba-based construction company.  

Such anti-public sector, austerity measures have incited a consistent wave of national strikes and protests by the Argentine population throughout the year.

Macri, from the right-wing Cambiemos party, is strictly adhering to the International Monetary Foundation (IMF) recommendation for the country to slash government spending by putting a “freeze (on) public employment” and significantly decrease government social programs and subsidies.

In December legislators in the Cambiemos majority Senate voted to reduce government investment in national pension and retirement plans by 20 percent. In January the government suddenly and sharply increased public transportation fares and further slashed home energy subsidies.

“We’ve decided that this is a transition we’d like to make gradually to contain all Argentines and give them the opportunity to find other work and jobs because we’ve tried shock politics and it doesn’t work,” said Macri referring to previous IMF austerity measures put in place in Argentina and several other Latin American countries during the 1990s.  

“We’re doing this in a gradual way,” added the head of state.

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