It’s Independence Day today in Argentina and if you thought we were in for a quiet afternoon of churros and contemplation, think again, since the conversation in most rallies and celebration events around the country has revolved around the two key issues that have been dominating the political discussion for the last couple of months: the economic turbulence the country has been going through – along with the consequent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – and the current debate about the abortion decriminalization bill.
As President Mauricio Macri delivered a speech in the Casa de Tucumán (the building where Argentina’s independence was declared in 1816) high-ranking church officials criticized the government for enabling the debate over the abortion bill. At the same time, opposition leaders opposing the agreement with the IMF held an event at the Obelisco, in Buenos Aires, under the slogan “the homeland does not surrender.”
On a televised speech this morning, Macri called on provincial governors, union and business leaders, as well as social organizations, to “work together” for the sake of the country. The President conceded that government mismanagement played a role in the economic and financial crisis the country is going through, saying the current situation is a result of “issues concerning our own administrations, external markets and policies implemented by previous governments,” but nonetheless assured Argentines “must be hopeful because we know where we are going and how we will meet the targets we have set for ourselves”.
“This is not the time for opportunism and demagoguery. We have to overcome this belief we all have that things can go wrong. It is much better to be optimistic, with a future that is already on the horizon. It is the time to work together, shoulder to shoulder, to overcome the recurrent crises that have affected us throughout the years,” he added.
He also called on provincial governors to reach a political agreement that will allow the government to sanction a budget bill that contemplates meeting its fiscal targets, in accordance with the agreement reached with the IMF. “[We need a budget that allows us] to end the fiscal deficit, so we can start living with the resources we have, as Argentine families do,” he said.
However, there are parties and organizations who consider that the agreement with the IMF will lead the country to a crisis alike to that of 2001, and called for a march today to once again express their strong opposition to it. Same as they did on May 25, a group of actors, along with the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, made a video calling on people to march under the slogan “the homeland does not surrender.”
The event, schedule to begin at 2 PM, was expected to gather several high ranking representatives of different political parties, unions and social organizations critical of the Macri administration.
And that’s not all.
Somehow the abortion debate was also part of the 9th of July celebrations, even though the President did not directly reference it.
Probably aware that the Catholic Church is not happy with his decision to not veto the abortion decriminalization bill (if it’s passed), the President chose to skip the traditional Tedeum religious ceremony in the Tucumán cathedral before the formal Independence day event.
However, Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, a staunch detractor of the bill, did attend. Michetti saw herself embroiled in controversy last week after saying, among other things, that she is against abortion, even in cases of rape.
At the Tedeum today, Tucumán Archbishop Carlos Sánchez called on all attendants to “defend life” and argued that “abortion is death.”
“We need to keep building a rock-solid nation. At the base of our society is the inalienable value of life. Therefore, let us respect that value every human being has, that all Argentines have,” he said.
Macri has repeatedly said that he is in “favor of saving the two lives” but if society decides to decriminalize abortion he will not stand on the way. Religious representatives, however, criticize that his government enabled the debate in the first place and that he is not playing an active role against the bill, like Michetti is.
Sánchez went on to say that “abortion is the death of an innocent, of a child, of an Argentine” and warned that “no one has the right to eliminate the life of another human being.”
“To all Argentines who are living the bi-centennial of the homeland, it is our duty to build off this rock of respect, guard and promotion of life, not death,” he said. Other prominent members of the Church replicated this message in different events held yesterday and today, such as the Tedeum held in the City of Buenos Aires today, and a “mass for life,” held outside the Luján basilica yesterday.