In early March, Argentina’s government came to an Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $45 billion deal to shore up its shaky finances. This deal was motivated by the government’s need to pay a $2.8 billion instalment on a $57 billion IMF stand-by loan taken out under former President Mauricio Macri in 2018. This loan – the largest loan in the financial institution’s history – sharpened divides in Argentinian society. The following year, the Macri administration was ousted in elections by the center-left Frente de Todos coalition which campaigned on a sharp anti-austerity, anti-IMF program. When President Alberto Fernández took office in December 2019, he refused the final $13 billion tranche of the IMF’s loan package, a move applauded by large sections of Argentinian society.
The crush of people began at the 9 de Julio subway stop downtown, less than a block from the Buenos Aires obelisk, the city’s most recognizable monument. By 5:00 p.m. on February 8, thousands from over 100 trade unions, human rights organizations and student groups had blocked the main thoroughfare to protest a preliminary agreement between the Peronist, center-left government of Argentinian President Alberto Fernández and the International Monetary Fund. Amid a cacophony of competing drumbeats, demonstrators along Roque Saenz Peña bore signs that read “With the IMF, we return to the bottom,” “The IMF is poverty and unemployment,” and “Enough of austerity.”
Argentina is trapped in $44 billion of IMF odious debt taken on by corrupt right-wing regimes. Seeking alternatives to US hegemony, President Alberto Fernández traveled to Russia and China, forming an alliance with the Eurasian powers, joining the Belt and Road Initiative.
The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, today visited the Kremlin and told President Vladimir Putin that his country wants to end “dependency” on the US and strengthen economic ties with Russia instead. Fernández told Putin “Argentina, in particular, is experiencing a very special situation as a result of its indebtedness and the economic situation that I had to inherit. From the 1990s onwards, Argentina has always looked towards the United States. Now, the Argentinian economy depends a lot on the debt it has with the United States, with the IMF, and the role that the US has within the IMF.” The President added, “The context is very favorable to deepen the links between Russia and Argentina. We have to see a way for Argentina to become a gateway for Russia in Latin America”.
The enormous economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally alter the structure of society, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if using the crisis to implement near-permanent austerity measures across the world. 76 of the 91 loans it has negotiated with 81 nations since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic in March have come attached with demands that countries adopt measures such as deep cuts to public services and pensions — measures that will undoubtedly entail privatization, wage freezes or cuts, or the firing of public sector workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its June 2020 update. The prognosis is bleak. Global growth for 2020 is projected at -4.9%, 1.9% below the IMF’s forecast from April. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated’, acknowledges the IMF. Forecasts for 2021 are somewhat optimistic, sitting at 5.4%, which is higher than the 3.4% the IMF predicted in January 2020. ‘The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute’, says the IMF. Poverty reduction is effectively off the agenda. The World Bank’s recent report takes a dim view, with 2020 growth forecast at -5.2%, predicting the deepest global recession in eight decades. The World Bank’s expectation of growth for 2021 is at 4.2%, lower than the IMF’s 5.4% prediction.
Unions, students, teachers, workers, and social organizations took to the streets in Quito as others followed from home in several cities Monday with a pot-banging protest. In Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil the protesters challenged the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and took the streets to demand the withdrawal of the measures, and also to defend public education, health, and labor rights. Central Workers' Organization (CUT) President Richard Gomez declared the demonstrators will remain in constant mobilization until their purpose is achieved.
If you are using one of the many coronavirus incidence trackers, the Pacific country of Ecuador does not seem to be particularly badly affected by COVID-19. Officially, the country has less than 7,500 cases and 333 deaths. But everybody knows this number is nonsense, including President Lenín Moreno, who freely admitted that authorities were collecting over 100 dead bodies a day from Guayaquil city alone, the epicenter of the pandemic tormenting his country. Ecuador’s limited state has essentially collapsed under the strain of COVID-19, with dozens of videos circulating showing dead bodies left in the streets, with no one to collect them. The country has already run out of coffins, so corpses are buried in cardboard boxes or simply left in trucking containers.
The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could push half a billion more people into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out developing countries, said Oxfam today. The agency is calling on world leaders to agree an ‘Economic Rescue Package for All’ to keep poor countries and poor communities afloat, ahead of key meetings of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20 Finance Ministers’ next week. Oxfam’s new report ‘Dignity Not Destitution’ presents fresh analysis which suggests between six and eight percent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa.
Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) blocked a request from Venezuela for an emergency loan to deal with the COVID–19 pandemic on the grounds that President Nicolas Maduro “lacked recognition.” “IMF engagement with member countries is predicated on official government recognition by the international community, as reflected in the IMF’s membership. There is no clarity on recognition at this time,” a spokesperson for the international banking organization said. In fact, around 150 countries recognize Maduro, including the vast majority of UN member states. Indeed, the UN itself has endorsed him, even placing Venezuela on the Human Rights Council. Crucially, however, the United States government has not.
This week, multilateral organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have supported Venezuela in its fight against the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), in the midst of the US unilaterally imposed economic and financial blockade. The first organization to express its support for Venezuela was the EU, when on Monday, March 23, it supported the requests for aid made by Iran and Venezuela to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), countries that face an analogous situation of criminal blockade through coercive unilateral sanctions. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,” the two countries are in a very difficult situation especially because of US sanctions that prevent them from obtaining resources from the sale of oil,” as quoted by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza by international media.
The request was not much of an “about-face” for Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, because it was the same type of disaster relief loan the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave to Ecuador in 2016 under former President Rafael Correa, another blunt IMF critic, after a massive earthquake. The loan was not one of the IMF’s infamous “structural adjustment loans” that impose a menu of right-wing economic policies such as tax cuts for the rich, privatization of state assets and public sector lay-offs. The IMF’s rejection of the $5 billion emergency loan for Venezuela is, all by itself, justification for Maduro’s “assassin” and “tool of US imperialism” charges against the fund. The IMF said that it refused the loan because “there is no clarity” on whether the “international community” recognizes Maduro’s government.
A whale of a deal for the IMF and all those folks out there who wanna keep consuming but want someone else to deal with the fall out. Next up, the whole damn system is guilty as hell – and that's a heavy thought. And while starting the fight – and more so the build - in your own community might seem a small move to make, it may be the most powerful.
The Lenin Moreno Administration is moving in two fronts since the mass mobilizations that took place in Ecuador about a month ago. On the one hand, it is criminalizing social protests so opponents can be charged with “rebellion.” This is how they managed to imprison members of Rafael Correa’s political party, Citizen Revolution, as well as leaders of indigenous organizations. Three legislators of this movement requested asylum at Mexico’s Embassy to Ecuador in this connection. On the other hand, the Government is trying to impose economic measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Days ago, opponents rejected a mega economic reform bill adapted to the markets.
In the past few weeks in Argentine politics: the administration of Mauricio Macri, the neoliberal handmaiden of global banking elites, was upended in national elections, as the Peronist Alberto Fernandez was swept into office by eight percentage points in what Bloomberg euphemistically called a choice of “left-wing populism” over “pro-market policies.” They’d have done more honestly with Harvey’s description or the “naked calculus of greed” phrase with which scarf-wrapped soothsayer Cornell West once described austerity measures in America.