Argentina has seen ‘little real reform’ since 1990’s
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Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has presided over a period of steady economic growth, but Christian Castillo, a candidate for vice president from the far-left, tells FRANCE 24 many still work under precarious conditions.
Christian Castillo (pictured right) is a sociology professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a member of Argentina’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS). He is also the vice presidential candidate for the Workers’ Front (FIT) coalition in Argentina’s general election on Oct. 23. During the country’s open primaries in August the Workers’ Front won only 2.46 percent of the total vote. FRANCE24 spoke to Castillo about the opposition Fernandez faces on the left.
FRANCE 24: How does Cristina Fernandez’ tenure compare to previous governments in Argentina recent history?
Christian Castillo: Cristina Fernandez's government had to respond to a very peculiar situation, which was the political crisis that resulted from Argentina’s 2001 economic crash and the global recession that started in 2008. Her government had to make certain concessions to popular demands in order to re-establish the control of the country’s government [Starting in late 2001, Argentina saw five different presidents rule in just one month]. Since then Argentina benefitted from the positive growth trends across Latin America, backed by the region's strong exports. Nestor Kirchner and Cristina’s era in power saw gross domestic product rise sharply, but there has been little real government reform so the power structure remains very similar to that of 1990's – despite what the government says.
F24: What is the Workers' Front hoping for in these elections?
CC: The goal of the left is to fight for a place in the national parliament, by winning local councils in the provinces of Cordoba and Eugenia. We feel that Argentina’s electoral system was reformed in part to leave the left out of the government, but we overcame this obstacle in the primaries. Now the challenge is to repeat that success in Sunday's general election, and have an MP in congress.
F24: Polls say Socialist Party candidate Hermes Binner will come in second in Sunday’s elections. What explains his relative success?
CC: Binner belongs to the Socialist Party, a party similar to the social democratic parties in Europe. It is a smaller party without roots in the unions. His coalition largely represents the interest of his province of Santa Fe, which is the second most populous in Argentina. In Santa Fe, the agriculture sector is strong, and Binner has ties to the Argentinean soybean multinationals. His success in large part reflects the power of the soybean industry in the context of Argentina’s agricultural production.