Interview with the President of the Nation, Alberto Fernández, in Navarro 2023, the Destape
JOURNALIST.- We are already in communication with the President of the Nation, Alberto Fernández. Good morning, Alberto, how are you?
CHAIRMAN.- Good morning Roberto, how are you? Good?
JOURNALIST.- Good, good, good. Well, I was saying that they are managing to return to 2019, even improve that performance, but of course you return to a place that was not very nice in 2019.
PRESIDENT.- And yes, it is definitely so. Yesterday I wrote it in an article, sometimes I have the feeling that the pain caused by the pandemic, the infections, the deaths, made many Argentines forget what happened before the pandemic. The truth is that when we came to the Government, the country was devastated, devastated. There I don't have any (inaudible) in the term that I use. Now I hear them explain incredible things, like not really getting into debt like we said when they got into debt, or that they grew like they never did, they say things with an annoying lightness, because Sergio Massa tells what is true, how they asked us to please that (inaudible) the run on the dollar, which they themselves had generated after the PASO. The truth is very painful to see that moment because we entered the government with a lot of… what did we want to do? In fact, if you review, the first three months of the Government, 6 percent of the people's income was recovered, which had lost 20 percent in the Macri administration. That recovery was all lost in the pandemic. And today, in fact, with an improvement, we are the same as in December 2019 (audio jump). Devastated, devastated, with a debt like Argentina never had, because it was not only the amount, but the time that Argentina had promised to pay it. What, for many, goes by, means that next year Argentina will not reach 19 billion dollars. If we had not renegotiated the debt and we had not negotiated with the Fund, we would have to pay that next year, 19 billion dollars. That's what they promised. I feel that the country is definitely in very bad shape, I feel that in the pandemic we worked as the whole world did in the face of an unknown fact, where science had a hard time finding an answer. When science found its answer, we quickly went to it, which was the vaccine. We were among the countries that began vaccinating the world for the first time, in December of last year, and since then we have accelerated to carry out a vaccination process. that has no registration in Argentina. And so we achieved immunity, today, for almost 85 percent of Argentines under 18 years of age, who have at least one dose today, and by the end of September I estimate that 50 percent will have the two doses given. (inaudible) but they keep coming and we keep vaccinating. And it gives the possibility of favoring immunity, and gradually recovering the dynamics and also with that the economy, that economic activity can be seen again. The other day the owner of a restaurant in Puerto Madero told me that they are working full time, seeing that people consume and consumption still has to recover, but we are on our way to that. Many are not working as we would like, such as tourism and gastronomy that are not yet fully functioning and we still have to recover many small businesses. What do I know, the little bars in the neighborhood that had to close because they couldn't keep the premises, and we have to help them get back on their feet. That's where we are, that's where we are.
JOURNALIST.- Alberto, two almost antagonistic projects are going to this election, very different, and it seems to me that the challenge is for people to understand the differences. Could you summarize for me what you think the differences are?
PRESIDENT.- The central difference is where we focus our attention, we focus on work and production. We really believe in businessmen who invest, who take risks, who call for work, who produce, who sell, who export those excess productions. We believe in that Argentina and that is why we have been willing to help the industry from day one, from day one. That is why we have the car production records that we are having, in relation to 2019, or that is why we have records in construction, in the industry, the installed capacity of the industry had fallen by 60 percent, which only 40 percent. percent of the industry was working. Today 65 percent of the industry and the installed capacity are working. We believe in that and we do it from day one, and we preserve and protect those who produce. We not only protect them, we encourage them and help them to produce. Credit dropped substantially in Argentina, credit rates, credits increased, they increased like never before. We have hundreds of thousands of credits given, against a few credits given in the Macri years. We do it convinced what we have to do, absolutely convinced. On the other side, there is a country that you simply have to see, public health was pushed into the background, they boasted of not opening more hospitals, they said that in public education one unfortunately "fell" (inaudible) opening new universities in the country, they opened up imports in a crazy way, because it was the importation of final products that ruined many industries. One listens to (inaudible) tell that he was Minister of Production and said if Chinese exports don't stop I'm going to have to lay off 800 workers, and the response he received is (inaudible) of course someone is going to hire them. I heard from another businesswoman, whose name I will keep because she told me in private, but she said she experienced a similar situation, where a well-known women's clothing brand stated that it was very difficult for them to produce in Argentina (inaudible), and the solution What they gave him was to connect his designs to Chile, and bring them from China with his brand label. Those are the two countries that are in conflict. The rest is all fiction, the rest is all things they say, but it has nothing to do with what the government does. I could not say the same if one takes into account what happened in the City of Buenos Aires. In the City of Buenos Aires, the assistance to companies and businesses by the City Government was nil, it was nil, it was minimal, compared to what the national government did, it was minimal, it was minimal. For this reason, I insist on this point, I am not going to say who is good or who is bad, I am only saying that we have two completely different views of the country. I end with this, none of us would think of saying that we give the Malvinas as part of payment of debts, none of us would think of saying such a thing. They say it.
JOURNALIST.- Yesterday Macri said that he did a lot of things, that you undid them and therefore if he returns to power, he will do them again. I mean, he clearly has convictions about what he did.
THE PRESIDENT.- I am convinced that they want that country, it is a country with over 20 million Argentines. It is a country for few. Now, what I would ask Macri, what do you want to do again? Do you want to go back to indebting Argentina as you indebted it? What do you want? Do you want to generate the inequality that you generated? Do you want to get the Ministry of Health back? Do you want to abandon public education, how did you abandon it? Do you want to abandon science and technology, how did you abandon it? Do you want the children of workers not to be able to access universities, as they said? What do you want to do again? Because that's what they did, this is what they did. What do you want in the face of a fiscal deficit problem, which you have in pesos, to continue taking 100-year loans, as you did, in dollars? Is this this what you want? What do you want? Going to ask the International Monetary Fund for money, a sidereal sum, forcing Argentina to pay a surtax that is three times the rate charged by the Fund? Is that what you want to do again? These are the questions I ask myself. When I hear him talk I say what he's talking about, what he's talking about.
JOURNALIST.- How did you receive the statement where he said that if they lose they had to leave?
PRESIDENT.- Nothing, it seems to me that this logic of not valuing democracy is in its essence. We have already seen it when he did the thing in Bolivia. What is being investigated in Bolivia was not discovered by us, Bolivia discovered it. It wasn't us. I hear him out there saying “he persecutes us”, it wasn't us, Bolivia found out what they did. The truth is that it is something of an enormous shame, I feel such an enormous shame as an Argentine, because they have collaborated with the coup leaders of a country as beloved as Bolivia, giving them the rubber bullets with which they repressed and killed Bolivians. The truth is that I feel enormously sorry about all this. Now, if he did that, it is clear that in his essence he does not value democracy, nor does he value institutionality, because he was the first to recognize the triumph of Añez. It is clear that he does not have an appreciation of democracy, similar to the one held by the vast majority of the Argentine people. It's clear.
JOURNALISTS.- Yesterday, or recently, he declared the same thing that he had told you on March 19. He said "I would not have placed restrictions on people, when COVID was declared, I would have told them to take care of themselves and we were watching", that is, what you had said that he told you in the first communication in 2019. I do not know if did you have a chance to hear it and what is your opinion.
THE PRESIDENT.- Yes, he said that many times now (inaudible), but the truth is that I don't have to say one thing for another. He told me that, he asked me to help him in the transition to calm the economy, because he had totally gotten out of hand. I don't have to lie, that's what happened. He is convinced that it really would have been better to tell people to carry on with their normal lives, as if the virus were not attacking them, and finally he said that those who have to get it will get it, therefore, let them get it fast. I will say something in favor of him, he had bought the theory of herd immunity. England began to apply it and realized the disaster that was being generated and resolved it quickly.
JOURNALIST.- But do you ratify it now?
THE PRESIDENT.- Sure, but ratifying it now is very complicated, very complicated, very complicated because everyone realized the error of the concept, but yes, well, that was indeed what he proposed to me. I did not accept it because there is also another difference there, there is also another difference there. I wonder what would have happened when all this started, one day Ginés came and Alberto told me, we have to stop all exports of automatic respirators. So, I look at him and I said, but why is that, everything had just started and he tells me because there are very few factories in the world that make automatic respirators and we have one in Córdoba, and we have to stop it because they have everything sold out. By then they had sold everything, all their production. And then I said well, how do we do? No, no, we go and buy it from them, and then, well, we closed exports, the State bought all the respirators, all those almost 4,000 respirators were distributed throughout the entire country. How would you have acted? Because with the logic that the market resolves, I would have said let's not let them continue exporting. The truth is that we were extremely lucky that this Cordoba factory, which I did not have the pleasure and honor of meeting its founders and owners, was a factory that they created more or less (inaudible) because they combined their knowledge to develop automatic respirators of the Highest technology, recognized worldwide. And when they saw what happened, they not only helped us, but also multiplied the production rate to give us the number of respirators we needed in less time, and they worked six shifts 24 hours a day to give us the respirators we needed. I also love that Argentina, because those businessmen who sided with the people to work and gave more work, and complied with society. I don't have the honor of knowing them, I don't know how they think, but the truth is that we are very grateful to them, immensely grateful. Now, what will happen to them if that dilemma (inaudible). They are dollars that come in, they have told me, from a product that was also in short supply and that was obviously obtained at a very high price.
JOURNALIST.- Alberto, do you confirm what Sergio Massa said that Macri asked you for help, after the PASS, to calm the flight and the price of the dollar?
PRESIDENT.- Absolutely, and then he called me the day they put the stocks on and told me I am going to remove one of those measures that you like, he told me verbatim, they are going to call you to explain, what I ask of you is that you help me because otherwise we have no way to stop the drain of dollars that are leaving. Of course she told me. And the truth is, the other day Cristina recalled in a speech that this was the subject of debate, because it was to expose the disaster that had been made to society or think of the Argentine and say let's stop this because with this he loses the people. And the truth is that we first have a sense of responsibility and we help him to get out, to get to December 10 and that the transition be respecting the rules, and at the same time for what he had shot, when after PASO came out to say what he said, put some order in the economy because those who suffer are the Argentines with the economy so crazy, it is not only the President who surely also suffers, but those who suffer the most are the men and women of the people, they suffer. What Sergio recounted surprised me, what Sergio recounted is absolutely true, absolutely true, as everyone knows that he was calling from Colombia demanding that money laundering allow their families to be included, something that did not come out in Congress and later ends up being today by decree. We all know this because he must have thought that he would be there for many years (inaudible), but it was like that, it was like that, it was like that and Sergio can tell about this, it was like that.
JOURNALIST.- Good morning President, how are you doing? I want to ask you about elections, Legislative elections, and looking a little ahead, what do you hope to be able to promote in Congress or that is already in Congress and has been stopped? I mean, I think about the Judicial Reform, I think about the reform of the Public Ministry, Frontal Labeling Law, I mean, that is already in Congress. And also in the event that they give you the numbers and you may have, especially in the Chamber of Deputies, the possibility of your own quorum and to advance faster, what other things do you have planned for the second half of the mandate in legislative matters?
THE PRESIDENT.- I am very interested in paying attention to projects that have to do with advancing in productivity, gaining in growth, in development. I am thinking of the Automotive Production Law, I am thinking of the Electric Car Production Law, of electromobility, that there is a very ambitious project that we are sending, I am thinking of the Energy Law, of Energy Production, which for us is central to continue taking advantage of the resources of Vaca Muerta and to begin the transition to renewable energy. I think about the Law, which we have spoken with Vanesa, about the Food Industries and with the countryside, which is a Law, which really fixes the operation of agricultural production, livestock production and food production a little. I think about those laws that concern me the most because these laws definitely boost the economy and create jobs. And that is what worries me the most today. What I need is for there to be fewer and fewer plans and more and more people to work. That is what I need. That's not to say I want people to run out of plans. The plans are an emergency exit for people who need it, while in Argentina there is someone who needs it (audio jump), but what we have to do is that the plans become work. There, for example, in the field, we rural workers made a change that allows someone to maintain their plan and work in the crops. The so-called swallow workers. And that for a porteño means nothing, for provinces like Entre Ríos, Río Negro, Tucumán, Mendoza, which have swallow workers who go to harvest peach, apple, orange, and blueberry. Blueberries mobilize the work of many women, that is very important. And what we want is for people to recover the culture of work. What have we done there? We have allowed someone to keep the plan and have the employer pay them the difference between what is a plan and their salary. And we have to gradually migrate people from the plan to work, to formal work, not to informal work, to formal work. That is our greatest effort, what worries me the most.
THE PRESIDENT.- Alberto, how are you? I also wanted to consult with you thinking about the future, particularly after November. Because there are several initiatives within the Frente de Todos from different sectors, some that refer to the reduction of working hours, another to the participation of workers in profits, others that have to do with the possibility of implementing some type of income universal, but deep down they are all different tools to generate a distribution shock given that wages have lost almost a third of their value in the last five years. I would like to ask you, beyond the tools, if it was in the government's mind, after the elections, to aim to make a redistributive shock.
PRESIDENT.- Look, if there is something that is clear, if there is something that the pandemic must have taught us, it is that inequality exists. Inequality is directly linked to the way in which income is distributed, and it is very clear that income is distributed in an inequitable way in Argentina, inequitable in Argentina. That is very clear and that must be corrected. The way to correct it must be studied, but when we ask that parities remain open it is to guarantee that at the end of the parity, wages must beat inflation. That is a sign that what worries us the most is preserving the value of the salary, now, it is also true that we have to see some things. In today's Argentina, because many forget this, we have done many things in tax matters, in this first year and a half, many things in tax matters that are progressive in nature that go against the regressive ones of the tax system that characterizes the Argentine tax system. And let's talk not only about the contribution to great fortunes, which is an exceptional event, but, for example, personal property was paid again as it was paid before Macri. There they have another difference, Macri lowered personal assets and he took a tax from the richest. Nowadays, profits clearly have to do with the fact that SMEs do not pay the same as large companies, the first point. Secondly, that those who work, more than a million workers and retirees, stopped paying the income tax that was a topic of discussion for eleven years in Argentina. And that means an indirect improvement to the salary that cannot be made an exact (inaudible) because not everyone pays the same, but it is money that remains in people's pockets so that people consume and not leave (inaudible). . We have already carried out in this year and a half actions of determined actions to favor carrying out the more progressive tax system. And I think we have to continue on that path.
JOURNALIST.- How are you, Alberto? Good morning. Along with the economic processes, let's say, of the programmatic agenda, there are processes that also extend over time and one of the most worrying or of those that generate some alarm is the distance that is being generated between the youth and the traditional parties , the views on the institutions, the distrust of the State that, of course, the new right-wings take advantage of to generate their own agenda, I mean, to also set up shop, right? This sense of mistrust in politics, as a tool for social transformation. How can you work from the State knowing that it affects not only the short term, but the construction of subjectivity and the future above all?
PRESIDENT.- I understand that young people, the discomfort of young people in the face of the pandemic. He imagined me when I was 15 or 16 years old deprived of playing soccer, of going to the field, of playing the guitar with my friends, of going to listen to a recital. I imagined all that and the truth is that I realize what is happening. I also imagined how heavy it must have been on a young man to stop seeing his friends because of the risk of catching it and taking the disease to his elders and putting them in danger. All of this obviously must have affected any young person, any person, a young person must have been greatly affected. And unfortunately what young people have to understand is that what we are experiencing is exceptional, and that they have to realize that the destruction of a system is not the solution, because also behind what they call those rights that present themselves as anti-system They are the true causes of the system of inequality that exists, that is the reality. I mean, what the Argentine is experiencing today in its economy is the result of the neoliberal policies that appeared time and time again, and made the mess they did, and frustrated entire generations. So, what I need young people to understand the most is that they are not the future, that they are the present, first point. Second point: they are essential in the Argentina that we started, in the Argentina that is restarting, they are essential, we cannot do without them and we need them active, and we need them eagerly, we need them strongly and we need them studying, we need them preparing For work, we need them to be very active in an era where knowledge has also become a strength of societies. We need these young people in schools with the necessary tools so that they can progress. I'm talking, look, about the things that happened (inaudible), almost, for example, they eliminated everything... they didn't make progress with connectivity in the country and they eliminated the arrival of notebooks so that children can connect with the present. Today, generations need internet. All this has to be put back into operation. We are carrying out the connectivity plan. When they criticize me because I want to turn internet connectivity, for example, or cell phones into a public service, why do I do it? First, because there are provinces in Argentina, the other day the Governor of La Pampa told me, and then the Governor of Catamarca told me, where 80 percent of its territory does not have 4G, it is not that they do not have internet, no They have 4G on cell phones. In a world that is already talking about 5G, they are in 3G and there is no connectivity. The connectivity, the largest laying of fiber optics that has been done in Argentina, has been done by the State. And it is clear that they are not going to want to take the television, or cell phones, or the Internet because they do not go to places that are not profitable for them, it is clear. The businessman considers that as a business, they are not going to put money where it is lost. And if the State does not regulate that, then, that is going to deepen even more. In order for a boy to develop today, having a notebook and having the Internet is crucial, it is essential. All of that was lost in the Macri years. I want to remember when we arrived at Customs, there were tens of thousands of computers that had become obsolete because the State had bought them and there was no distributor. The same thing happened with medicines, we must remember that measles was once again a disease among us, since it was eradicated for years. And product of what was that? That they stopped vaccinating.
It seems to me that youth have to understand that no matter how painful this time has been, no matter how many feel the frustration of not having been able to live a year, in the midst of their youth, as they would have deserved to live it, above All of this they have to understand that the solution is not in the madness of a siren song that screams: freedom, but that later in the facts they are the founders of this system, which they criticize.
JOURNALIST.- The last time, Alberto, in August inflation – apparently everything indicates – dropped below 3 percent; It has been falling for five months. Can we have, next year, an inflation that arrives, even at the end of 2022, below 2 percent, that we begin to see one?
CHAIRMAN.- This is what we tried to do with great effort, because we also had – in addition to the problems we already have in the Argentine economy – the problem of international food prices, which have grown a lot. And everyone has experienced price increases on food; now unlike what my predecessor said, that he was going to get rid of inflation and poverty; I said – throughout my campaign – that resolving this issue is going to take many, many years. And they are demanding it, because we lowered inflation, in the first year, from 53 percent to 35, I think it was, and the truth is that we expected to lower it more, this year, it got complicated, but we are going to continue working to lower the prices, fundamentally, of food, which is what worries us the most and the truth is that we are very attentive to that. We have applied severe sanctions to companies for taking advantage of their dominant position.
We have also worked with the issue of meat. I read, yesterday, the CEPA report, which shows how the price of meat began to drop, since we closed exports and it is not that I like to close exports; I would love for the producers in the refrigerators to understand that Argentines should not pay the same price for meat that is paid in Paris or Beijing, because it does not cost, the truth is that it does not cost the Argentines the same as it does in those places in the world and we are trying to balance the price for the Argentine market and the international market, but many times greed makes us see these things. There are also many rogues, who see a moment of opportunity – between quotes – who get involved in making nonsense, that if the State does not get tough, everything is complicated.
When we took this measure, we calculated the price of a kilo of meat that was exported and it gave us that a kilo of exported meat cost 200-odd pesos and in Argentina it cost 300 pesos. That was all products and billing of almost fifty exporters, who appeared overnight exporting meat and under-billed. So, it's not as simple - as things sometimes are; the construction of a careful, reasonable price system needs all sectors, absolutely everyone.
We come from a very difficult time, I know. I saw – the other day – a food company that is having a hard time and got into debt, it has a very large debt in dollars and we have to see how we help it to preserve it. Every industry must be taken care of, in Argentina.
JOURNALIST.- Oh, are they going to try to help Molinos Cañuela?
PRESIDENT.- We are going to do everything that can be done to help, Banco Nación, AFIP, is one of the creditors, I believe that we must help the continuity of the companies. For me it is not the same, that someone is left in the street. I know that it is not the same, for me a person who becomes unemployed is one more worry that I have, and that worry goes away the day that person gets a job. We are not here to let companies fall and close, we are here to help them continue on reasonable terms, when I wanted to do that with Vicentin, later I realized what they had done to Vicentin and I said, well this is not To help Argentina, this is to help the shareholders, which are two different things and so if I help the shareholders, I want to help – between quotes – my friends and for that there is Macri, who did it. I don't do that.
JOURNALIST.- Are you optimistic for Sunday?
PRESIDENT.- Yes, of course, I think that Argentines have memories, they know the effort we have made, they know that I have put everything of myself and all of us who are part of the government have left all our efforts. You have to understand that it was a unique year, unique in the world, a year that is not usually experienced. When I look back and look to see which President something similar happened to to see if I can find some formula, I realize that something similar happened to Sarmiento, with yellow fever, although that was not a pandemic, but an epidemic and then there was the Spanish flu, which was also experienced. Since then, until today, no one has had to face a pandemic like the one we have had to face and I have the intimate conviction that I did it preserving the care of the people, the health of the people, that we put all our efforts so that this caring for the people does not lead to a greater drop in the companies, which provide 80 percent of the work, in Argentina and so we were helping these companies, with the ATP, with credits for some monotributistas and merchants and other aid, which they are happening too. And I know that when it arrives – on Sunday – the people will value this, they will value it between the work of a government that cared about them and a government that with total indifference indebted Argentina as it did. We must remember when some of those who are candidates today would go and say: "it is good to go to the International Monetary Fund because we have something of privilege" and then they asked without anyone stopping them. Between August and October of the primaries and the general election, they let 23,000 million dollars escape and that's when he called me to say that he was going to put the stocks, 23 million dollars they let escape, from Argentina.
What I am saying is that Argentines are going to know how to measure this; I believe that they will accompany us, because - the truth - I also know everything that I have not done because time did not allow me to do it, because the moment and the circumstances did not allow me to do it and I need your help, I need of each Argentine and each Argentine help me raise Argentina, it is not something that I can do alone and I need everyone. And besides, the way they have to help me now is by voting. Thank you.
JOURNALIST.- We spoke with Alberto Fernández, President of the Nation. Thank you for the communication and I hope there will be a good election, thank you President.