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Argentina Protests Macri as He Threatens More Austerity Schemes

Above Photo: Argentine President Mauricio Macri waves ahead of the opening of a session of the country’s Congress in Buenos Aires, March 1, 2016. | Photo: Argentine Presidency

The Argentine president was met with widespread protests during his visit to the city of Rosario as he pushes for a deal with U.S. vulture funds.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri suggested that without a deal with U.S. hedge funds, commonly referred to as vulture funds, the country is in store for further austerity or hyperinflation.

“Austerity or hyperinflation. There is no alternative,” President Macri told an Argentine TV outlet Monday.

Macri is taking a hard line over his deal with the vulture funds as he does not count on a majority in the country’s Congress.

He will likely face a political fight over his decision to pay a total of US$6.5 billion to investors who never loaned money to Argentina in the first place.

Argentina defaulted in 2002 after a major economic crisis, subsequent governments reached a deal with 93 percent of Argentina’s investors.

Macri also attacked his predecessor, the leftist leader Cristina Fernandez, who refused to settle with the vulture funds, which bought up some of Argentina’s bad debt.

Macri was met with widespread protests in the Argentine city of Rosario Monday amid heavy police presence, with demonstrators criticizing the president’s neoliberal measures.

“We are protesting against austerity, looting and repression”

“The gradual way out of the disaster left by (previous governments) is via gradual austerity,” said Macri in his interview broadcast Monday.

“And if Argentina is left out the world, you can not even begin to walk the path of development,” added Macri.

Argentina’s economy, however, managed to survive despite being blocked from accessing foreign loans after a controversial decision by U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa.

The judge dropped a court order last month preventing Argentina from issuing new bonds or servicing its debt.

In a revealing comment, Griesa said in his decision, “Put simply, President Macri’s election changed everything.”

In column for The Hill, progressive economist Mark Weisbrot said, “Griesa’s unprecedented decision to take 93 percent of Argentina’s creditors hostage on behalf of the vulture funds was obviously political at the time. Now he has admitted it, to the chagrin of our legal system.”

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