With Argentine elections taking place on October 27, President Mauricio Macri is now making desperate attempts to win the elections as his popularity continues to plummet. While holding a rally in the city of Tucumán, the neoliberal president was thrilled with the presence of a woman celebrating her birthday at his rally. He then decided to kiss the elector’s foot. With the social and political chaos of Argentina, Macri is literally taking any measure to continue to lead a country whose economy continues to suffer.
The 72-year-old Manuela lost her shoe when she was taken to the stage. “Oh, it’s Cinderella! Who is the prince?” said the president. Macri then decided to engage in cheap flirtatious moves and kissed Manuela’s feet, crying out: “I found my Cinderella! It’s my Cinderella!” Macri obviously became a joke and users questioned the reason for the kiss on the foot, which actually did not happen in the Cinderella mythology.
The chances of Peronist duo Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner winning the election continues to rise and recent polls show that Fernández has 52% of the electorate. But polls and elections are completely different things.
Macri promised miracles by taking over the Argentine presidency four years ago, claiming he would fight fiscal deficit, end poverty, establish sustainable growth, and so on. None of these have been achieved and rather the economy is now hopelessly ruined, the currency is destroyed, and suffering to the local people has only increased.
The numbers are brutal and do not tell a lie. 35% of the country’s population, approximately 15 million Argentines. However, if we take into account extreme poverty, this accounts for more than three million. More data reveals that more than a third of Argentinians under the age of 14 not only live in poverty, they are, malnourished, that is, they are starving. And there is little sign that under Macri these pressing issues will improve as Argentine inflation over the past year and a half is astounding, coming to 34% percent.
Inflation not only violently erodes the purchasing power of Argentines, but it destroys it because wage adjustments are always well below the inflationary boom. This has meant that hundreds of thousands of Argentines are struggling to pay their household bills.
Official data shows that Argentina today is as poor as it was in 2008, in the midst of an international economic meltdown. This of course cannot be compared to the 2001 crisis that saw the country have five presidents in two weeks.
Since then, the number of Argentines who have left the middle class, hitherto permanent characteristic of the country, and have moved to poverty has dramatically increased. Although Macri did not start the current economic crisis, he has certainly put more than enough fuel on the flame by prioritizing neoliberal agendas for the benefit of oligarchical interests rather than those of the Argentines.
However, the significant failures of Macri is now even being utilized by politicians in neighboring countries. Political heavyweights in both Uruguay and Bolivia have used the failures of Macri to attack their neoliberal rivals.
In one such example, Bolivian President Evo Morales, running for his fourth term, gave a blazing attack against Macri’s neoliberalism during a rally in the capital of La Paz, bellowing, “Neoliberals and the far right are beginning to fall in the region. Look at Argentina: Macri has knelt before the IMF and is now being punished at the ballot box. Bolivia, our government, has freed itself from the IMF.” Evo also mockingly said that Bolivia is preparing for the “massive return of [the one million] Bolivians living in Argentina, back to their country to escape the economic crisis.”
In Uruguay, Macri’s defeat in the primaries has given a new impetus to Frente Ampla, the left-wing coalition that has ruled the country since 2005. The leading candidate, Daniel Martinez, leads the race and has even gained popularity – rising from 35% approval rating to 39% last week.
Macri and his neoliberal allies in neighboring countries who have adopted Trump-like rhetoric that a country should be run like a company, highlights that they are far removed from the realities of the average person. There is the visual affect that the IMF has backed Macri for this upcoming election, especially because of the status of a $57 billion credit facility agreed to last year was discussed between Macri and IMF Acting Managing Director David Lipton at Argentina’s Mission to the United Nations just weeks after the Argentine president was badly defeated in the August presidential primary.
With the IMF imposing choking economic restriction and austerity on the average Argentine, Macri’s continued dealing with the financial institution will only be consolidate in the eyes of many that he has betrayed Argentina, an image he does not want with only days left until the election. With poverty increasing and the destruction of the economy, it is highly unlikely that flirting and kissing feet will be enough for him to win this election.