BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Mauricio Macri underscored Saturday “the enormous importance of the countryside” for this South American country, while attending the official inauguration of the Rural Exposition that began last July 16 in the Buenos Aires district of Palermo.
“It’s what drives this country. One out of every three jobs is created directly or indirectly by Argentine farming,” the head of state said.
Macri’s visit marks the return of an Argentine president to this expo, the South American country’s most important agricultural and stockraising event, following a standoff that went on for years between the farming sector and the Kirchner/Fernandez governments.
“For many years this wonderful country has grown far below capacity. Over the past five years there was practically zero growth,” Macri said at the inauguration.
“For the last seven months we in the government have worked so that farmers feel we’re no longer trampling them under but giving them a hand,” the Argentine president said.
Accompanied by first lady Juliana Awada and his youngest daughter Antonia, Macri took his place in the main box at the expo with the head of the Argentine Rural Society, or SRA, Luis Miguel Etchevehere.
Macri’s good relations with the rural sector has marked some of the government’s economic policies, such as the elimination of taxes on grain exports and lower withholding taxes on sales abroad of soybeans, the country’s star crop.
Things were different before Macri, according to Etchevehere.
“When authoritarianism tried to deprive us of our lawful rights, farmers took to the streets to express not only our resistance to the government’s arrogance but also that of the majority of Argentine society,” the SRA leader said with reference to the 2008 conflict between the farming sector and the Cristina Fernandez administration (2007-2015).