President Cristina Fernandez speaking at Harvard University denied there was a “dollar clamp”, chided some students for making the same “monochord questions” as the Argentine media, attacked the IMF and finally described a question on her wish for re-re-election as ‘abstract’ since it does not depend from her or a single party.
“There is no such thing as a dollar clamp in Argentina”, said strongly Cristina Fernandez on Thursday addressing students as the Kennedy School of Government forum.
“The dollar clamp is a ‘media made up phrase’; Argentina is the second country with dollars after the US, but we had a problem during the last election because of strong rumours that said we were planning to devalue. This led to the flight of four billion dollars in cash, stacked away, something which does not happen in Brazil, Chile or Colombia”, underlined CFK.
“There is great misunderstanding about the issue and much media muddling. I’m not blaming anybody; I also had a deposit in US dollars”.
However addressing the student who was Argentine the president asked him if it was a fair question to ask about the so-called dollar clamp.
“Do you have an idea of how many Argentines can’t even make it to the University of La Matanza (a poor neighbourhood of Buenos Aires and stronghold of the dominating Peronist movement)?
On re-re-election the president was evasive.
“It’s not whether I want it, but rather of what I can and should do. It is an abstract question because the Constitution does not allow a third mandate. At home we discuss many things, a constitutional reform does depend on me or an only political party”, said CFK.
Another student asked about her patrimony to which the president said she could give an account of each of her assets and added “my economic position is because I’ve worked all my life and because I have been a very successful solicitor”.
An Argentine student timidly said he felt one of the few privileged Argentines because he could ask the President and then brought up the issue of the government’s ‘self-criticism’.
“That short phrase you are using. Look, I’ve talked with millions of Argentines. It seems I was numb. You are intelligent kids you can’t go around repeating in monochord what two or three journalists have come up with”, said CFK increasingly annoyed by some of the questions.
As in previous speeches in the US and before answering questions CFK was particularly critical of multilateral organizations and at the same underlined the successful policies of her administration.
“We can’t say we are living in Disney World. Argentina is no paradise or Disney but we have improved our situation”, she said in reference to policies implemented in the country since 2003.
She then went after the IMF. “International multilateral bodies evidently are not working, and not recently, but from a long time back”.
On the current economic crisis that the developed countries are living in CFK affirmed that the economic conflict has turned political, and added that as a president, I'm obliged to protect the Argentines' reserves.
She added that the core of the international crisis was that they went from a production economy to believe that money could reproduce by money itself.
And regarding the 2008 financial crisis of the United States, the Argentine president reminded that the investment banks had built a series of economic derivatives that led to the collapse of banking institutions.
With a degree of irony CFK said that Argentine sovereign debt ballooned in the nineties with the one Peso-one dollar convertibility system implemented by then Finance minister Domingo Cavallo. “I believe that at some time he (Cavallo) taught here in Harvard, well what he did is Argentina was totally absurd”.
When asked about the controversy generated around the dubious rates and indexes release by the Indec stats agency such as the inflation rate, the President obligingly responded by asking what the US annual inflation rate was, to then unwittingly add: but give me the official rate.
Informed it was around 2% on annual average, CFK just said: Oh, really? Come on! And you believe that? If Argentina's inflation rate was at 25% like some people say, the country will blow up in the air.
CFK also had time for a quick reference to the bilateral conflict with the UK over the Falkland Islands and again attacked multilateral organizations.
“The UN Security Council has lost all functionality because we are in a new scenario, with problems totally different to those after World War II”.
According to the Buenos Aires media over 2.800 graduates and under graduates registered for the Argentine president conference. However since the capacity of the forum is 700 they had to draw lots for the seats.
Another group of an estimated fifty Argentine residents were also waiting anxious to meet President Cristina Fernandez when she walked into Harvard University, but as in Buenos Aires banging pots and pans and with signs complaining about “Korruption” lack of security, no re-re-election and more respect for the Argentine media.
Before flying to Boston for the conference at Harvard Cristina Fernandez received the president of the Exxon Mobile Corporation, Rex Tillerson.
The meeting took place at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York at 5:30 pm (local time). Also present in the meeting were Argentine ambassador to the US Jorge Argüello, Legal and Technical secretary Carlos Zannini and presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro.
On Thursday night, Fernández de Kirchner had confirmed that Tillerson had requested to meet with her during her stay in the US.
Following the Harvard appointment the Argentine president and her delegation were scheduled to leave from Boston arriving in Buenos Aires early Friday morning.