Cristina Kirchner delays her public support for the agreement with the IMF and political tension grows within the Government

January 30, 2022

Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during an official act in the Plaza de Mayo. (Frank Fafasuli)

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sought an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would include a debt relief of 44,000 million dollars contracted during the administration of Mauricio Macri, an extraordinary term of 20 years for the credit of Extended Facilities that Martín negotiated Guzmán with Kristalina Georgieva, a pruning of the annual interests and a criminal punishment for the Cambiemos government officials and Christine Lagarde’s staff who closed the Stand-By in 2018.

The vice president made her demands to Alberto Fernández and Martín Guzmán, the deputy Máximo Kirchner assured his militants from La Cámpora that there would be no “surrender” to the IMF, and the Patria Institute -governed by Oscar Parrilli- unleashed a guerrilla war in the Senate, related media and social networks to limit the options of the President and his Minister of Economy.

In the fifth of Olivos and by cell phone, Alberto Fernández accepted -so- CFK requirements. And it enabled Guzmán to tell Cristina “everything”, who was designing her own economic and financial program together with Axel Kicillof. The vice president and the governor of Buenos Aires -separately- listened to the minister and never argued against his willingness to report what was happening between Buenos Aires and Washington.

Cristina tried to condition the actions of the head of state, but was never able to influence the daily negotiations. Guzmán, Sergio Massa -Head of Deputies-, Santiago Cafiero -Foreign Minister-, Gustavo Beliz -Secretary of Strategic Affairs- and Jorge Arguello -Ambassador of the United States-, in charge of all contacts with the IMF, the White House, the Department of State and the Secretary of the Treasury, respond to Alberto Fernández.

And they all followed the presidential script.

The vice president was also unable to interfere in DC, since the Joseph Biden administration mistrusts CFK and maintains a subtle distance. Example: there was an informal attempt to achieve a bilateral meeting between Cristina Kirchner and Khamala Harris -vice president of the United States-, during the inauguration of Xiomara Castro in Honduras. They didn’t even take a photo.

Alberto Fernandez, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Martin Guzman during an official ceremony at the Bicentennial Museum
Alberto Fernandez, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Martin Guzman during an official ceremony at the Bicentennial Museum (POOL/)

As the weeks go by, Alberto Fernández and Guzmán explained to Cristina that there was not a single possibility of achieving their claims. The IMF respected its own internal regulations and would never agree to modify the basic rules governing an Extended Facility credit.

CFK listened to the arguments of the President and his Minister of Economy, but never endorsed them. He preferred silence and waited for there to be an agreement in principle to establish a position. Cristina has the logic of an elite chess player: she takes advantage of the opponent’s mistakes and is capable of see lots of plays and combinations forward.

Before the announcement in Olivos, the head of state announced to the vice president the formal terms of the understanding with the Fund. She was still in Honduras. And he also spoke with Máximo Kirchner. Alberto Fernández assessed that it was a victory for the Government, and that it meant a political turning point.

Cristina and deputy Kirchner avoided the President’s value judgment. Even more: Máximo criticized the terms of the negotiation, and then questioned the treatment that Alberto Fernández would grant his mother.

“Make no mistake, she is the head of space,” the national legislator told the head of state in Olivos.

The discomfort of CFK and Máximo is understood. They have an internal discourse that they cannot validate with what happens in realpolitik. But they also assumed that it was not possible for hard-line Kirchnerism to remain silent: they knew that the President would deploy his Government allies to endorse and praise the agreement with the Fund.

In this context, Minister Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta -who went to Honduras with CFK- got off the plane and tweeted in favor of understanding. Two more hours, on the same line, Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro joined the official support. He had previously spoken with Máximo to find out about the political strategy of the Cámpora.

And the closing was in charge of Deputy Carlos Heller, who went to official television to defend the agreement. Heller complied with Máximo’s instructions: he has a communist past and knows how party verticalism works.

Alberto Fernández and Kristalina Georgieva during a meeting at the Sofitel hotel in Rome
Alberto Fernández and Kristalina Georgieva during a meeting at the Sofitel hotel in Rome (Handout ./)

Until last night, Cristina and Máximo had decided to give their opinion with their silence. And if they don’t change their strategy, The two leaders of Kirchnerism will only establish a public position when the IMF board approves the letter of intent that will be discussed by the two houses of Congress.

The vice president wants to see the fine print of the agreement and then influence the decision-making that will involve complying with the program approved by the IMF. It is at that moment that you will exercise your inner power, regarding the results obtained by Alberto Fernández and Guzmán during their negotiations with the staff, Kristalina Georgieva and the Fund’s board of directors.

CFK keeps the last word to itself, and withholds its public support for the President. “Cristina agrees with what we did”, Alberto Fernández said in Olivos.

A discursive formality that does not replace the deliberate silence of the vice president.

In DC they want to believe the head of state, but they will only breathe a sigh of relief with the letter of intent approved in Parliament. A political fact that depends on the decision of Cristina and Máximo.


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