Argentine President-elect Mauricio Macri and his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2104. (Image: Presidency of Argentina, Public Domain).
Argentina, Southern Cone, Today in Latin America

Macri Assumes Argentine Presidency Amid Feud with Predecessor

December 10, 2015 By Staff

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Top Story — Mauricio Macri assumed the presidency of Argentina today, signaling a shift away from the left-leaning populism of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, although Argentina remains divided, in some cases bitterly so.

Macri’s inauguration comes amid a bitter public feud with Kirchner, who has decided not to attend today’s ceremony. Kirchner harangued the incoming president and his staff during her exit speech on Wednesday night for his pro-business stance and plans to liberalize the economy and increase U.S. investment, including an announcement on Dec. 6 that he would seek to end capital controls which limit the amount of U.S. dollars that can be taken out of Argentina.

The country’s central bank chief Alejandro Vanoli, a Kirchner ally, stepped down on Wednesday, a move he threatened if Macri won the November run-off elections.

Macri will appoint as Vanoli’s replacement the U.S.-educated Federico Sturzenegger, a current legislator and chief economist at the state-run oil and gas company YPF. Critics say Macri is working too closely with U.S. economic interests and fear austerity measures that could lead to cuts in the social spending that expanded under Kirchner and her late husband.

Just Published in Latin America News Dispatch

  • As Macri takes office, he will face intense scrutiny from Argentina’s small but growing environmental movement, who view the former mayor of Buenos Aires with a mix of optimism and deep skepticism. Chris Barrett reports.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • A dengue fever vaccine has been approved for use in Mexico, the first vaccine of its kind to target a disease that threatens some 400 million people.
  • A Wall Street Journal report examines the accounting irregularities associated with lucrative construction contracts granted by Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto when he was a state governor to Spanish construction company OHL, including for a toll road Mexico City, to be the most expensive in the country once completed.
  • Two Mexican nationals were sentenced to life in prison by an Arizona judge for their role in the 2010 shooting death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, an event that sparked the investigation into the “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program.

Caribbean

  • A Puerto Rican court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples can adopt children.
  • Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro García Padilla, in an address to Republican Congressman in Washington announced that the island territory would likely be unable to make any future debt payments, saying he would rather pay public workers than service the debt, on the same day Republicans led efforts to shoot down a bill which would afford bankruptcy protections to some Puerto Rican government agencies.
  • Jamaican gay rights activist and attorney Maurice Tomlinson filed a claim in the country’s Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of an 1864 law banning same-sex intercourse on human rights grounds.

Central America

  • Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raúl Morales stated that Guatemala would need a written guarantee from Mexico promising entrance to the nearly 5,000 Cuban migrants who have been stuck at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border since November, before allowing the migrants to make their way through Guatemala.
  • Guatemalan attorneys have presented formal accusations of illicit association, customs fraud and bribery against former President Otto Pérez Molina, who resigned in September amid historic anti-corruption protests.

Andes

  • Following the Venezuelan opposition’s electoral success in Congress on Monday, President Nicolás Maduro announced that he will block any amnesty requests for political prisoners, a demand that oppositional leaders have promised to address once in power.
  • According to a study by Colombia’s economic planning department, a peace accord with the rebel FARC group could significantly boost the country’s economy by 5.9 percent and triple its foreign direct investment.
  • As a potential peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC draws closer, the FARC have freed a soldier they had captured 14 days prior, an incident that violated the ceasefire between the two groups.

Southern Cone

  • The international credit rating firm Moody’s has placed Brazil’s debt on review to potentially downgrade it to junk status, a decision that signifies another hard blow to President Dilma Rousseff’s flailing presidency and the country’s contracting economy. Moody’s also downgraded the status of Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobras, with a review for a further downgrade currently underway.
  • Paraguay’s central bank announced that the country’s economy is expected to grow by 3 percent this year and by 3.2 percent in 2016, despite low global prices for soy, its main export.

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