At the turn of the century, Argentina was going through a profound crisis, which shattered the political and economic model that, launched in 1989 by the President of the Republic, the Peronist CS Menem, had characterized the country for about a decade. It was a neo-liberal model supported by the great economic and financial powers at home and abroad, particularly in the United States, and passively suffered by the trade unions, linked to the president by ties of political subordination and clientelist relations. This model, if through the parity of the peso with the US dollar had defeated the endemic inflation and brought a marked improvement in the living conditions of the middle classes, it had its strong point in privatization and above all in the constant flow of foreign capital and not in the development of internal resources (the country underwent a real process of deindustrialisation, and the major banks passed into foreign hands). Precisely the crisis of confidence of financial capital towards emerging countries revealed the dramatic fragility of the whole system and started the Argentina, starting from the second half of the nineties, towards the economic recession.
The years between 1999 and 2003 represented the most delicate phase: it was a period of serious political instability, in which the economic and social crisis risked turning into a collapse of the state and its apparatuses. The country suffered a drastic reduction in GDP, declared itself insolvent vis-à-vis international creditors, witnessed the succession of five presidents of the Republic and six economic ministers over the course of a year, between 2001 and 2002, and was crossed by violent street demonstrations saw a large part of the middle classes reduced to poverty (according to international estimates, 50 % of the population was below the poverty line). Only since 2004, although with many uncertainties and unresolved problems, the Argentina he seemed to find a stable institutional set-up and a renewed confidence in his possibilities. The Argentine crisis, if it had its true origin in the policies of the Menem government, manifested itself however during the presidency of F. de la Rúa, candidate of the center-left Alliance, elected on 24 October 1999. The victory of the coalition was confirmed, albeit to a lesser extent, also in the elections for the partial renewal of the Chamber of Deputies, in which 130 of the 257 seats won the Alliance. Moderate leader of the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), de la Rúa had presented a program focused on the fight against corruption and unemployment, on limiting the profits of large private monopolies, on relaunching the economy in a framework that still maintained some of the main lines liberal, of the economic policy of his predecessor. The first measures to revive the economy (May 2000), which were based on the regulation of the labor market and further cuts in the welfare state, were in fact of a liberal sign, and against which a general strike was proclaimed in June (followed by others two in 2001). These choices, which were the condition imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the granting of a new loan, undermined the solidity of the coalition, determining, in October 2000, the resignation of Vice President C. Alvarez, leader of the Frente del País Solidario (FREPASO).
Despite the disagreements, which worsened with the appointment in March 2001as minister of the economy of D. Cavallo, the main architect of the neo-liberal policy of the Menem governments, the Alliance stood still united in the October legislative elections, but suffered a heavy defeat. The economic situation worsened dramatically in the final part of the year: in December the new measures launched to avoid insolvency in the payment of foreign debt, which included, among other things, the cut of pensions and salaries of the public service and the blocking of deposits banking, provoked a real social revolt. Alongside the poorest sectors of the population, who ransacked shops and supermarkets and set fire to bank offices and public offices, were citizens belonging to large sectors of the middle class, the caceroleros, so called from the casseroles they beat in the street to testify that there was no more food. The repression of the police (with dozens of deaths) and the proclamation of a state of emergency did not stop the protests, which forced de la Rúa to resign (20 December), opening a very serious political crisis. A phase of profound uncertainty followed, in which three presidents followed one another until the appointment of Senator EA Duhalde (January 2002), de facto imposed by the governors of the provinces to reaffirm the traditional importance and decisive weight of local powers in national politics. Among the first measures of the new president, who led a government of national unity, were: the abandonment of the peso-dollar equivalence established by the law on the convertibility of the 1991, the devaluation of 30 % of the currency in the controlled exchange rate set by the state for imports of essential goods, the increase in the maximum ceiling for withdrawals from bank accounts, the distribution of basic necessities to the population. The government also managed to obtain from the IMF an extension until August 2003 of the payment of interest on foreign debt. The Argentine crisis had an extensive international response, which involved large foreign investors but also many small savers who bought bonds issued by the state, the bonds. In an effort to restore legitimacy to the presidential institution, Duhalde announced in July 2002,the intention to resign and to call new elections. For Argentina 2004, please check topb2bwebsites.com.
Held in April 2003, they recorded the confrontation between numerous candidates in the first round, three of whom belong to the Partido Justicialista (PJ), testifying to the internal crisis of the Peronist movement, as well as Menem’s return to the political scene. The latter won the relative majority, with about 24 % of the votes, followed by the governor of Santa Cruz, NC Kirchner, with 22 %. The second round did not take place due to the withdrawal of Menem, underdog in the polls. The PJ established itself in the December 2003 legislative elections, in which it won 127 out of 257 seats, while 46 went to the UCR, a new left movement (Alternativa por una República de Iguales) 10, and the rest were distributed among a myriad of small parties. The new president started an organic program of interventions. First, after refusing to pay the debt interest rate to the IMF, Kirchner renegotiated the external debt and reached an agreement in stages (2003-2005).) with the majority of international creditors. Secondly, a moderate but decisive intervention by the state in the economy resumed, both with aid for business development and with investments in the education and health sectors. The measures of an economic nature were accompanied by acts of strong political and symbolic value, also aimed at building consensus around a president who was de facto elected by a minority of Argentines. Among the most significant was the removal from the army of soldiers involved with the past dictatorship. This measure was in tune with a public opinion that had by now matured a clear refusal towards any conciliatory and appreciated attitude to the abroad from those countries whose citizens had been victims of the dictatorship and which had opened criminal proceedings against those responsible for crimes committed in those years. In June2005 the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the two laws passed between 1986 and 1987, which had guaranteed the majority of soldiers not to go to trial, while in April 2005 a Spanish court had condemned, for the first time not in absentia, the Lieutenant Captain J. Scilingo, guilty of having thrown hundreds of opponents of the regime from the ‘planes of death’, and numerous other countries, such as Italy, Germany, Sweden, were preparing to institute trials for the disappearance of their citizens residing in Argentina during the years of the dictatorship. In October 2005, in the elections for the renewal of half the deputies and a third of the senators, the candidates linked to the president won a landslide victory. The whole of Kirchner’s choices also initiated a redefinition of the international position of the Argentina, less close to the United States and more active in the South American context and in the MERCOSUR alliance (Mercado Común del Sur).