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  HOME | Argentina

Argentine President Mauricio Macri Needs Time to Achieve His Recovery Goals

BUENOS AIRES - If anyone thought Mauricio Macri would be able to solve all of Argentina's problems in one fell swoop, they were wrong.

The president of the Republic of Argentina committed himself when he came to power to lower inflation, reduce unemployment and eradicate poverty.

Almost a year into his mandate, the reality is that inflation is still bloated, unemployment has grown as a result of mass layoffs in the public sector and poverty is on the up.

Macri greeted EFE with British punctuality in the imposing CCK of Buenos Aires (the Kirchner Cultural Center), a mammoth building that serves as a sort-of Nestor Kirchner mausoleum, the former headquarters of the Post Office now the largest cultural center in Latin America.

These days, the Forum of Investments, organized by the Government of Argentina, attempts to attract capital into the country from here.

We had precisely 20 minutes of interview in a modernist hall six meters (20 feet) high, with curtains of the same imposing length, a green leafy central decoration, a simple wall clock, a couple of Chesterfield leather armchairs and Argentine flags.

Everything was measured and austere, watched over by two communications advisors and three decor experts.

It was all quite different to the endless entourages you get to see in other latitudes.

At the time of the interview, Buenos Aires was in the grip of an unusually cold snap.

It was a chill almost as icy as that with which Macri began his interview.

Cold but direct, with blunt phrases to emphasize the point that his mandate will not be a mere parenthesis in Argentina's history.

His aim was to make Argentina recover, he said.

He will relocate the country on the world stage, and in the process discredit the efforts of his predecessors, Nicolás Maduro (President of Venezuela) and the populists.

Macri is determined to crush the idea that Argentina is beyond repair, though he knows he needs time.

Trade unions have declared war on his conservative revolution, and are giving full vent to the street cacophony of "caceroladas," where the public gathers in demonstrations and smashes cooking pans together, accompanied by endless honking horns.

A few weeks ago they stoned his car and hooted, "Macri garbage, you're a dictatorship."

But the president, who has already suffered from an irregular heartbeat and carries the tension of his situation etched on his face, has resisted the onslaught.

He knows he will have to battle against the unions, social activism, an organized civil service and, of course, Peronism. That is, the Kirchner movement.

He is aware that no president of a non-Peronist origin has reached the end of their mandate.

However, he says he is not afraid of taking on the challenge of ending the curse.

He is a man used to winning, but also suffering: in 1991 he was kidnapped for 12 days _ an event that marked him for life.

Leaving aside the "Panama papers," Macri is a born winner with a declared fortune of 110 million pesos ($7.3 million), 18 of them abroad.

He knows he has already done almost everything in private enterprise and also been the most successful president of Boca Juniors soccer club, with 17 titles behind him. Also, he was Buenos Aires' most reputed mayor.

Macri believes the best recipe for his country must be stability, a predictable nation able to attract the capital investment that disappeared with Cristina Kirchner and has not yet returned.

He wants to foment the return of foreign investment, including from Spain.

It is not normal that Argentina, a rich country with enormous natural and human resources, should be at the bottom of the line in terms of South American growth.

But Macri needs _ and requests _ time.

It is difficult to lower inflation, reduce unemployment and eliminate poverty in just eight months.

Should he achieve his goals, and reach the end of his term in office, he may also be able to steer Argentina back after years spent off-course.

He may be able to restore the country's reputation after having been an unpredictable destination, and consolidate it as the largest and most prosperous nation in the Southern Cone.

But it is not clear he will be able to achieve this.

Macri needs time.


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