Source Pravda.Ru

Argentina Puzzles Castro: Its Politicians Still Want to Rule the Country

Ten politicians fight for National Palace

"Only a mad man would be interested in being President of Argentina,” words from the Cuban leader Fidel Castro from December of last year, when popular uprisings swallowed five presidents in ten days. Well, today, this sounds old fashioned, as no less than ten politicians are fighting to jump into the "Pink House" - National Palace of Government - during the elections scheduled, but not yet confirmed, for April 2003.

Argentina has an extraordinary capacity for recycling politicians, and the ruling Peronist party is a worldwide example of this. Two former presidents, Carlos Menem and Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, are the best-ranked men to win party's primary elections, also scheduled but not yet confirmed, by 19 January 2003.

Carlos Menem ruled the country for two terms from 1989 to 1999, by imposing a neo-liberal program, which consisted of permanent austerity measures, a monetary plan based in the parity of the Peso to the Dollar, and the large-scale privatization of the public sector. Domingo Cavallo, mastermind of the plan, made use of foreign credits to finance the chronic deficit to the national accounts. The result of this model was the extraordinary increasing of two variables: unemployment and foreign debt.

As for Rodriguez Saa, he is a former governor of the small province of San Luis. The president for a week during the turmoil of December had to resign due to the lack of support of those who had promoted him after De la Rua's resignation. The populist by nature promised one million of jobs in a few days and quit working on his campaign for 2003.

Peronism, also has two other candidates, the governors of the powerful provinces of Cordoba and Santa Cruz. De la Sota and Kirchner, respectively, battle for the center electorate, while Menem, appealing with reactionary speech, located himself in the extreme right. Rodriguez Saa... Well, he is there: only vague ideas on how to rule the country but promising hard work. The formula appears to be enough for 17.3% of the population and enough to locate him at the head of the polls.

Second in the polls after Rodriguez Saa is Elisa Carrio. Lilita, as supporters call her, is the head of a center-left coalition, which joins former members of the Radical party, Frepaso and Socialists. Her party, the ARI - Argentineans for and Equal Republic - represents the democratic left option, a space weakened after the failure of De la Rua, the conservative president of a progressive coalition from 1999 to 2001.

But there are more: Marxists-Leninist Communists and Trotskysts join in the left and enjoy the same support as center-right parties: 3% of the electorate.

Trends show that, most likely, Rodriguez Saa will be in the runoff and nobody will reach the 45% of the votes needed to win in the first round. He will compete against Menem or Elisa Carrio. If he looses the primaries, he will participate through his own party, the National and Popular Movement.

Argentine politicians clearly defy Castro's words and insist on ruling a country devastated by its worst-ever crisis. Maybe because as can be heard on the streets of Buenos Aires: "If Menem wants to be president again, there might be something yet to steal."

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

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