September 18, 2014
Rural Society fiercely critical of CFK with opposition leaders looking on
Surrounded by opposition politicians, the head of the Argentine Rural Society (SRA), Luis Etchevehere, yesterday led the official inauguration of the livestock fair, taking aim at the Kirchnerite administration. Criticism was harsh and the head of the farming organization said that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government was in its “twilight”. But Etchevehere’s strongest message was when he urged his audience to “change the course.”
The tension between the Kirchnerite administration and the farming sector is nothing new but Etchevehere’s speech yesterday surprised many due to its bitterness.
Making reference to the years that the president and her late husband Néstor Kirchner were in office, Etchevehere said it was the “preyed-upon decade,” accusing the Kirchnerite officials of being “ignorant and arrogant.”
The leader of the traditional farm organization added that if a new government is appointed and decides to change the agricultural policies, “investment will flood the nation.”
His words were praised by Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri, who has already expressed his intention to run as a presidential candidate for the 2015 elections for the centre-right PRO party. Macri attended the fair along with his Cabinet Chief Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and PRO senators Gabriela Michetti and Alfredo De Angeli, who was one of the iconic activists of the Liaison Board in the 2008 standoff between the Kirchnerite administration and the farming organizations after the government decided to increase export taxes for the sector. Radical Party (UCR) Senator Ernesto Sanz, who is on good terms with Macri’s PRO Party, was also in attendance at the fair that is traditionally used by the opposition as an exhibition window. From Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front, the only representative that was present was lawmaker Ignacio de Mendiguren, the former head of the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA).
“It was the preyed-upon decade. They preyed on the farming resources, hydrocarbon reserves and the Central Bank foreign reserves. They also ruined credibility in public statistics and now the default appears as a shadow for all of us. Meanwhile they say that the debt will have to be paid by the next government,” Etchevehere highlighted.
“All the nation agrees. It is necessary a change of course. With the farming sector working well, the next country will have nothing to do with this one,” Etchevehere said.
Then the SRA leader sent the ball over to the opposition’s court. “The main political forces have already agreed to have a good dialogue with us. We celebrate these proposals and we hope they become a reality,” he added.
Over the past few days, several leaders visited the agricultural and livestock fair. Macri attended last week as well as Massa, who said that “the farming sector represents the country’s Formula One economic sector.” Broad Front UNEN Senator Fernando “Pino” Solanas also visited the fair located in the City neighbourhood of Palermo. UNEN lawmaker Julio César Cleto Cobos was also there last weekend. Cobos is one of the politicians with better ties with the sector since he issued his “no positive” vote against Resolution 125 meant to increase export taxes when he was vice-president and head of the Senate in 2008.
“If things continue this way, this will never be a federal country nor a sustainable one. There won’t be dignified labour,” Etchevehere said. The head of the SRA is facing accusations from the Farm Workers and National Employers Office (Renatea) for slave-like working conditions in a ranch that belongs to his mother, Leonor Barbero Marcial. On the ranch named La Oyita —owned by the company Las Margaritas — Renatea found two unregistered workers who lived in a space that had no electricity, running water or bathrooms. In an interview with the conservative daily La Nación on Thursday, Etchevehere dismissed the allegations, saying that he was not the owner of the property.
In a message aimed at closing ranks, Etchevehere ended up by saying: “We are united. They were not able to divide us.”
One presidential candidate
After Etchevehere’s speech, it was Macri’s turn to explain why this year again he decided to stand by the leaders of the Liaison Board in the fair.
“The farming sector provides us with great opportunities and I think next year we’ll be working together: my government and the sector.”
Macri repeated his proposal to rule the country in harmony with the farming sector. “I think it is possible to rule the country without export taxes. The important thing is to establish priorities,” Macri said, though he made it clear that soy was not included.
“I thought the president was going to change her policy towards wheat and meat exports. I talked to her about it but I failed to convince her,” the mayor added.
Macri was also asked about the chance of sharing a presidential ticket with Sanz, as Michetti suggested in an interview with La Nación.
“We are working in our own party and we are doing great. The only alliance we have is with the people,” Macri said, dismissing the possibility of sealing an agreement with UNEN in spite of Michetti’s opinion. Michetti, a former Buenos Aires City deputy mayor, wants to run to replace Macri in 2015. This week she met with UNEN lawmaker Martín Lousteau in a conference at a university and there was some speculation that it was a sign of a possible electoral deal.
Herald with DyN, Télam