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October 23, 2014
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Renewal Front backs new subsidy plan

Supporters cheer on the president after she unveiled the new subsidy programme on Wednesday.
Widespread praise for Progresar programme, although UCR does voice some criticism

A day after announcing the subsidy programme Progresar aimed at helping youths between 18 and 24 years old finish their studies, the Kirchnerite administration mostly received praise for the move — even from Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front.

Not everyone was happy though with the plan that would benefit as many as 30 percent of all 18-to-24-year-olds in the country at a cost of around 11.2 billion pesos. The plan was timidly criticized by the Radical Party (UCR) and UNEN lawmaker Elisa Carrió complained because the president did not mention inflation nor power outages in her Wednesday speech.

What was most unexpected yesterday was the backing granted by the coalition created by former Tigre Mayor for the October’s midterm, when he defeated President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s candidate and instantly was seen by the media as a potential presidential candidate for the 2015 elections.

In fact, it was not Massa who praised the programme launched by Fernández de Kirchner on Wednesday, after more than a month without addressing the nation but rather the support was uttered by one of his main advisers: former National Social Development under-secretary Daniel Arroyo. Adrián Pérez, who won a seat in October running on the Renewal Front ballot list, was one of the members of Massa’s bloc who celebrated the president decision.

“It’s a good decision because the main challenge Argentina is facing has to do with youth inclusion: to give them economic support and to help them finish their studies,” Arroyo said and congratulated the government on using money from the National Treasury to fund the programme. The political scientist said that there were still pending issues such as establishing the right to a first job.

“It was important that the government acknowledged that unemployment mainly affects the youth. This is something we have been demanding for a long time,” Pérez said and highlighted that inflation was another issue that has to be addressed by the Kirchnerite administration. During the midterms campaign, Massa’s Renewal Front had two hobby-horses: crime and inflation, both presented as insecurity that affected the Buenos Aires province population.

Support From Allies

Although the support from Massa’s coalition may have been surprising, the backing given to the programme by Kirchnerite governors was predictable.

“Progresar programme put Argentina at the forefront of defending rights,” Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli, who left his controversies with the president behind, said. In fact, Scioli defended Fernández de Kirchner and was one of the few who spoke with the president during the 42-day period in which she did not make any public appearance.

Entre Ríos Governor Sergio Urri-barri also backed the programme launched by Fernández de Kirchner.

“It is not charity. It’s an opportunity, hope, for millions of youths,” Urribarri — who is said to be supported by some Kirchnerites to run in 2015 as a presidential candidate — wrote in his Twitter account and he tried to sound as loyal as he could: “Since the era of Perón and Evita, no one had decided to implement such important public policies as Néstor and Cristina.”

La Rioja Governor Luis Beder Herrera agreed with Urribarri.

“There are many youngsters in our country who do not study because they can’t or because they have a precarious job and the state cannot turn a blind eye to this obligation,” Beder Herrera added.

Hugo Yasky, the leader of the pro-Kirchner CTA umbrella union, also praised the programme that will pay youths 600 pesos a month. According to Yasky, the programme will help the social sector which still suffers the consequences of the “Neoconservative model” implemented in the 1990s.

Criticism

Radical party Senator Ernesto Sanz was one of the main political opposition leaders who expressed some concerns. He pointed out that some of the youth who will benefit from Progresar programme were eight years old when late former president Néstor Kirchner took office in 2003. He said he hoped it would be a successful programme. The leader of Radical Party caucus in the Upper House of Congress said that inflation had to be controlled so that the subsidy is effective.

“If we want this programme to succeed, working culture has to be promoted,” Sanz insisted. In 2010, the Radical leader harshly criticized the universal child allowance (AUH), established by the Kirchnerite administration a year before. “Thanks to the AUH allowance, drug consumption and gaming increased,” he then said, receiving lots of criticism as a result.

In spite of their rift within the Radical Party, former Fernández de Kirchner’s vice-president Julio Cobos expressed his agreement with Sanz. The current lawmaker said that the problems that boys and girls between 18 and 24 face cannot be solved only with an economic incentive. Cobos demanded the president acknowledged publicly the levels of poverty in the country.

Not All The Topics

A day after the president’s speech, Elisa Carrió called Fernández de Kirchner a “perverse woman” and accused her of not referring to all the topics that have been hitting the headlines recently.

“The government is doing everything badly,” the UNEN front leader said. The president “is not ruling. She does not take charge of the inflation levels, the energy crisis, the ‘blue’ dollar. She does not take charge of the nation, so she is not the president,” Carrió highlighted and said that the Progresar programme was “just a balsam for an inevitable situation.”

For his part, Capitanich responded to those criticisms. “The president cannot refer to all the topics in a singe speech,” he emphasized.

Herald with Télam, DyN

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