Argentina Goes Back To The IMF, Opening Floodgates For Neoliberal Intervention And Structural Adjustment

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Above Photo: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr

Argentina. After 15 years of distancing itself from the grip of IMF policies, in May 2018 Argentina went back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the watch of President Mauricio Macri. Far from Macri’s promise to make Argentina the “supermarket of the world” and attract foreign investment, the negotiations with the IMF deepened Argentina’s crisis. The agreements between Macri and the IMF are part of a political intervention masquerading as economic policy. As long as there is a commitment to repay the massive debt to the IMF, it is international capital that will write Argentina’s economic policies—not the people—regardless of who sits in the presidential office. Macri’s new marriage to the IMF and subsequent slashing of social spending have provoked massive protests across the country. What is clear is that the people have said no to the neoliberal agenda. What remains to be seen is if the mass uprising in the streets can be channeled into a force that has the capacity to intervene in the elections and to stop the political intervention of the IMF and Argentina’s right wing.

“A few decades ago, a taxi driver in Montevideo told the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, ‘They say the Lord will provide. They think God runs the IMF.’ The IMF, in fact, thinks it is divine. It has returned to Argentina with a recipe that will only intensify the country’s crisis. With the rise of neo-fascism, global concern has shifted away from the IMF. This dossier—on the IMF’s return to Argentina—puts the focus back on the International Monetary Fund and its suffocating policies.” —Vijay Prashad, Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research (Delhi)’s new dossier: Argentina Goes Back to the IMF

Key information from the report:

  • To clear the ground for a political intervention, the IMF and Macri’s government had to destroy the legitimacy of redistributionist policies of the previous left-led Kirchner administration. The main theme for this assault was the alleged “wastefulness of populism.” A new strategy, known as Lawfare, uses the mechanisms of the judicial system to persecute and delegitimize anyone whom the State sees as a political threat.
  • The kind of policy pushed by the IMF and adopted by Macri’s government leads to a situation of Permanent Structural Adjustment—a deeper crisis that is produced by the IMF’s solutions to the crisis. This encourages a cycle of even more neoliberal solutions that deepen the dependence on international loans.
  • The threat of economic devastation and the continued political intervention has encouraged sectors of the left to come together and overcome various internal divisions.
  • The protests have put some limits on the reach of the IMF’s agenda, but they have not been able to block the application of the most severe structural adjustment policies. Nor have they been able to create a new electoral-political bloc that could channel the dissatisfaction of the people into the upcoming October presidential election.

“For six months, Argentina has been confronted with a new economic and social crisis on a massive scale. In the context the devaluation of local currency, rising inflation, and a deep recession, Mauricio Macri’s administration struck an agreement with the IMF, marking a major shift in the country’s future. The agreements slash public spending and prioritize the repayment of debt, among other measures. This dossier examines the different dimensions of the crisis, the open disputes, and the possibilities for the immediate future.” —Adrián Pulleiro, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research