President Mauricio Macri. Photo via Los Andes

President Mauricio Macri gave a press conference today and addressed issues such as the state of the economy, the government’s relationship with the judiciary and, of course, the Employment Emergency bill that would prevent the public and private sectors from laying off workers for a period of six months. Let’s take a look at his most important statements:

  1. “I understand the people’s pain and anger when prices go up. I’d be happy if I didn’t have to increase prices, but the economy was on the brink of collapse, the Central Bank had no reserves and the country was isolated from the world.”

Ever since Macri’s administration took office in December, inflation has been the Argentine people’s main concern as they’ve watched prices rise at the same rate as people slip in pools made up of their own tears in supermarket aisles. April alone saw an inflation rate between 6 and 8 percent in the City of Buenos Aires.

Once again, Macri insisted today that inflation would drastically drop during the second semester because the government “has been doing things well” and promised there will be no more price hikes in gas this year.

2. “There’s not a massive layoff problem here, the problem is that job creation has remained stagnant. I’ve made creating more jobs for all Argentines my obsession.”

Many Argentines would beg to differ. According to the Argentine Chamber of Medium-Sized Businesses (CAME), 120,000 people from both the public and private sector have been laid off since the government took office. For this reason, lawmakers from the political opposition have passed the highly debated Employment Emergency bill which, if signed by Macri, would prevent the State and companies from firing employees for six months and would instate a double severance package for companies that do fire any.

3. “I invite [ Renewal Front leader Sergio] Massa and all other political leaders to not support Kirchnerism in this proposal [the Employment Emergency bill.] We must stop stagnation and create quality jobs.”

Judging by his statements this week, it looks like Massa got the invitation, grinned widely and threw it in the trash along with his and Macri’s long lost friendship. (Remember their political honeymoon trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos? It seems like an eternity ago.) Massa this week has stated his support for the Employment Emergency bill put forward by Victory Front (FpV) Senator Miguel Pichetto and said he (and probably the rest of the party) will vote in favor of it even if they don’t accept the modifications he proposes.

“If there’s no margin to make modifications, we’ll vote to defend the workers. That means we will support the double severance package,” he told press this week. This made reference to the project’s most controversial part which government and companies argue would discourage investment by turning every worker into a potential liability to anyone thinking about hiring.

They're like, BFF's now. Photo via cadena3
They’re like, BFF’s now. Photo via cadena3

4. “I want to tell union leaders that I hope to keep sitting around a table with them, as we have been doing all these months, discussing specific subjects which in most cases are already being applied.”

By this, Macri was making reference to the fact that his relationship with unions hasn’t been so smooth lately. Last Friday, approximately 350,000 people gathered at Paseo Colon in the City of Buenos Aires to mark Workers’ Day and to protest against the government’s latest economic policies, which unions argue are hitting workers the hardest.

350.000 people marched to Paseo Colón on Friday. Photo via La Nación
350.000 people marched to Paseo Colón on Friday. Photo via La Nación

5. “Regarding the Lázaro Báez scandal and other cases, I will maintain the institutional commitment that I’ve kept since I took office: allowing the judiciary to work independently and support it if needed.”

The country has been following minute by minute the investigation into the so-called “K Money Trail” or Lázaro Báez Case, which you probably heard all about (if not, we have like a hundred articles in which we explain it in depth. This is not one of them.) The government has kept quiet regarding the case which sees a number of former Kirchnerite officials, including former President Cristina Kirchner since respecting the Judicial Power’s independence has been one of its main rallying cries.