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Argentina’s Kirchner: “We are trying to come out from hell”

Two weeks ago, PRAVDA.Ru took a flight with Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner to the southern province of La Pampa. There, PRAVDA.Ru managed to hold a brief conversation with the South American leader, which is reproduced below.

Despite more than 50% of the Argentineans live in poverty and over 20% is still unemployed, country’s President Nestor Kirchner enjoys an enormeous popularity. Since took office in May, no less than 85% of the population have supported his administration, according to opinion polls.

Kirchner likes to travel across the country to inaugurate public works and address spirited statements to the crowds that get together to cheer him. PRAVDA.Ru spent one day with this charismatic South American leader, when he visited General Pico, a 60,000 souls town in the southern province of La Pampa. No less than 500 were awaiting for Kirchner at the gates of the City Hall. They were claiming for more security to the local authorities, but cheered their President. Kirchner kissed them all, as collected letters of support.

After the inauguration ceremony to a number of works to drain the floods that have been ruining local agricultural production since 1992, Kirchner held a brief conversation with PRAVDA.Ru and other local journalists.

Q: Mr. President, you’ve been criticized for supporting governors that fueled pro-market policies during the nineties, when you say that those policies ruined Argentina. Is that a contradiction?
As President of Argentina I have to handle the relationship with the provinces and regions institutionally. My duty is to keep equal ties with all of them, as I have never thought that power was a club of friends. I have to dialogue with all political parties and leaders; that is my duty. I will work together with them without stinginess.

Q: You have sponsored the removal of four members of the Supreme Court of Justice, saying that they seconded former President Carlos Menem (1989-1999). Should we expect that the new Court will support your administration?
That is a good question. Some people say we had a Court that supported Menem, so now we will have a Court that will support Kirchner. I have to show them that they are wrong. But I have to do it, because a lot of things happened in Argentina, so the people does not trust their leaders. Facts will probe that we will have a totally independent Supreme Court of Justice.

Q: Some people criticized the way you handle the protests of unemployed organizations that block roads, bridges and interrupt traffic in the cities. What would you say about that?
It is tough issue. I have to handle this carefully. I do not want more violence in Argentina, as everybody has the right to express their dislike. I also think that the  organizations that legitimately protest for a place in this society have to adequate their methods, so all citizens could build a new Argentina. Some people still believes that problems can be solved by the use of force. Such policies brought us the military dictatorship (1976 – 1983) and a number of shameful events that we still regret.

Q: Poverty and unemplyment look like the most worrying issues in today’s Argentina. How do you expect to solve these questions?
We have to keep on working to rise people’s salaries and increase internal consumption. Argentine workers faced frozen salaries for many years. We moved the minimum salary up to 75% in eight months: from $ 200 to $ 350 (70 to 110 US Dollars). I know it is not enough, but we are taking measures on that. We have also fueled private companies to rise salaries, as well. If we want Argentina to grow again, we need to recover our industry and allow people to earn more money.

Q: Argentina needs an equal distribution of income...
We are broken. There is not too much to distribute, but we have to do it.

Q: What would you say to the Argentineans after eight months in power?
We need effort and hard work to take Argentina out from wher it is now. We are trying to come out from hell, and it will take long.