One of policy platforms on which President Macri came to power was “zero poverty”. While it sounded good at the time, Macri’s probably kicking himself for choosing the word “zero” (which, as public intellectual, Beatriz Sarlo, pointed out, is about as achievable as “ opening an embassy on Jupiter.”) After all, zero is zero is zero, and the poverty rate in Argentina has risen from 29 to 32.9% in the third trimester of 2016 – the equivalent of 1.5 million new poor since Macri entered the Casa Rosada, according to a new study from Argentine Catholic University.
One person who is perhaps enjoying the poverty figures is Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. On her Instagram account – otherwise a blend of starkly photoshopped selfies of a smiling, blow-waved CFK and conspiracy theories – she posted a parody video of much-loved 90’s children’s show, ‘Captain Planet’, in which Macri appears as “Captain Poverty.”
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) March 16, 2017
“Argentina needs a change,” reads the opening of the video as our four familiar planeteers stand defiant and strong against an azure background. This is reference to the governing ‘Cambiemos’ (Let’s Change) coalition in power, and Macri’s discourse around the importance of cultural and political change in Argentina (for example, he said the word “change”, or variations thereon, more than 15 times in his opening speech to the Legislative Assembly.)
But it’s not Gaia that our Planeteers are saving. Rather than combining the elements of earth, fire, wind, water and – WAIT FOR IT, EVERYONE’S FAVORITE – heart, these plucky earth warriors combine the power of tarifazos (rate rises), lay-offs, currency devaluation, importations and inflation to summon the power of Captain Poverty, aka President Macri.
The video is a reference to the various policies that the government has implemented since Macri came to power in December of 2015, which have led to a spike in poverty and indigence levels. While the President might argue that hefty rate-rises on services such as gas, electricity, water and public transport, easing currency restrictions, and cutting back on government spending are all necessary to obtaining long-term economic growth – the only true way to combat Argentina’s long-standing poverty problem, in Macri’s eyes – there is no doubt that the changes have pushed tens of thousands below the poverty line.
You need only look to the street to see evidence of the tense mood in Argentina. Last week, tens of thousands of teacher’s went on strike in demand of wage rises, while Argentina’s biggest union, the CGT, took to the street to demand that government move to generate more employment. Meanwhile, grassroots community organizations have been camped on the 9 de Julio avenue and then Avenida de Mayo to demonstrate “how bad” life is for working people at this time.
The video, which has been viewed over 40,000 times on Instagram since it was published a day ago, captures some of this mood. It ends ironically with the planeteers chanting “yes we can!” (sí se puede, sí se puede) which was one of Macri’s campaign slogans.
It is perhaps no surprise that the last and most important ring reserved for telepathic compassion-stirrer, Ma-Ti (the Planeteer you least understood and respected as a child, even though he was always somehow the most important and powerful), is inflation. Inflation is a particularly Argentine problem, and one that the country has battled with for decades. Last year, inflation sky-rocketed to 40% and this year many economic analysts are expecting it will hit 20%. According to Agustín Salvia from the Catholic University, which collects poverty data, it is above all inflation, combined with recession, that is sending people into poverty, because it eats away at their purchasing power at a time when the economy is stalling.
Meanwhile, it is not the first time former President Cristina Kirchner, who has 4.7 million followers on Twitter, has taken to social media to express her political views. Some of her finest moments include the time she telegramed people with the message “Macri, enough. Now they’re reporting me for using bad language…” after audios of her were released in which she uses the term ‘pelotudo’, and her foray into reality-tv when she filmed herself undertaking some administrative procedures in relation to the Future dollars case trial in Río Gallegos.
On that note – is anyone getting flashes of Cristina in this Gaia-gif?