Everything that’s happening in Argentina this week is coming as a big surprise. After years of conflict between government and opposition, the first meeting between outgoing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and president-elect Mauricio Macri generated high expectations. But, it was a complete failure – at least according to statements made by Macri afterwards to TV station TN.
Kirchner told me she will assign a minister for the handover on December 10 but she did not say who” President-elect Mauricio Macri
“The meeting was not at all worthwhile, we had not settled on a list of topics,” he said, evidently annoyed. “It was cordial but very brief,” he added. “You didn’t even come up with a group of ministers to seek agreement on the transition?” journalists asked. “No, she told me she will assign a minister for the handover on December 10 but she did not say who. It’s not worth talking about this anymore, so maybe you want to ask me about something else. There’s nothing more to say on this topic.”
Macri’s departure from the presidential residence in Olivos was also complicated. The Kirchner administration did not make a press room available to him and so the president-elect tried to speak to journalists who were standing at the gate. But the crowd and cameras became a security risk and he had to cut his statement short and exit through the back door. The government did not release an official photograph of the meeting.
In an atmosphere of increasing tension that foreshadows a difficult transition, Macri said that the only positive thing that came out of the meeting was that the outgoing president confirmed that she will act “as is appropriate” at the official handover ceremony in Congress. It was rumored in Buenos Aires that Fernández de Kirchner might claim she was indisposed and send Vice-President Amado Boudou to hand over the presidential sash and baton to Macri. But the new president confirmed that she will attend, meaning that Argentina will have that symbolic photo of the foremost representative of Kirchnerism handing over power to a non-radical, non-Peronist successor for the first time in recent history.
Asked whether he pushed for the president to dismiss Central Bank chief Alejandro Vanoli, and Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbó, whose terms run after December 10, Macri replied saying that “the meeting was cordial. She invited me to congratulate me personally. It wasn’t worth bringing up those topics.” Macri has called for Vanoli and Gils Carbó to resign on other occasions.
The president-elect also acknowledged that his team has very little time to make a smooth transition, especially given the difficult economic situation the country faces. “It’s crazy. We barely have eight working days to build our team. We are going to have work 24 hours a day,” he said.
The president-elect also acknowledged that his team has very little time to make a smooth transition
Beforehand, in another interview, Macri had spoken to Canal 26 about his fears over what he was going to find once in power. “It seems we have run out of dollars,” he told reporters. “The central bank is broke. The currency exchange restrictions were effective when there were dollars. But now, we have zero. We are flying without instruments, we don’t know what the numbers are.”
He also explained further about the promise he made during the campaign to call on Mercosur to to apply its democratic clause with regards to Venezuela’s imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo López. “I will take it to the summit in Asunción on December 21 and I hope Brazil will reconsider its position,” he said, in reference to the rejection of this idea that has already been voiced by the government of Dilma Rousseff.
English version by Dyane Jean Francois.