For several months now, the Argentine Government has set itself the firm objective of convincing citizens that, in order to take care of the national economy –and the dollars that, once again, are scarce in the country–, nothing better than taking advantage of the infinite options offered by the national geography. “People who travel abroad are not poor, let’s be clear, and the middle class has many options within the country for the summer,” the current Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas, expressed enthusiastically a few weeks ago on a local radio.
However, the discourse in favor of internal tourism seems to have gone little further than words. This week it was announced that different officials of the Argentine Government have chosen to spend the summer, and escape to the 40° that it has reached this week in Buenos Aires, some foreign destinations, such as Mexico or Cuba.
These vacations – priceless for most Argentines – came to light through images that circulated on social networks.
For the time being, the Argentine president, Alberto Fernandez, has not ruled on the matter, although the local versions assure that the summers abroad of the members of the Government in the midst of a health and financial crisis – in which Argentina claims not to have the necessary dollars to face the debt contracted with the Fund International Monetary Fund (IMF)– they have gone down very badly in the leadership, especially in the environment of the president.
As for ordinary citizens, spirits are no calmer, especially considering that Argentines must face a annual inflation exceeding 50% and to which there is no salary increase to compensate.
The news of the luxury vacations of some government officials came to light at a time when Argentines were erupting over a massive power outage in the city of Buenos Aires on Tuesday, which left some 700,000 homes without electricity in the middle of a heat wave and, in addition, it generated chaos in traffic due to the absence of traffic lights.
In this context, it was announced that the current director of the National Institute of Social Services for Retirees and Pensioners (known locally as PAMI), Luana Volnovich, and his second in this body, Martin Rodriguez, were resting on the Mexican island of Holbox.
Shortly after, it was learned that the couple in love, who are in charge of the State pension system at the national level, was not the only one lucky enough to be able to enjoy a trip abroad within the Government. A member of Fernández’s Cabinet also decided to spend his days off in the Caribbean: it is about Jorge Ferraresi, Minister of Habitat, who has chosen Cuba to spend the summer. A curiosity highlighted by the local media in Argentina is that, while they were on the Caribbean island at least a week ago, Ferraresi and his wife posted images on their social networks as if they were in full exercise of their duties, carrying out a busy political agenda (for example, inaugurating works).
Asked about the luxury vacations of the officials in a context in which the president had expressly asked the cabinet not to spend the summer abroad, the spokeswoman for the presidency Gabriela Cerruti limited herself to saying: “No comment”.
It has been more than a year since spending vacations abroad has become a luxury for Argentines for various reasons, beyond the health issue linked to the coronavirus. With a value of the dollar above 200 pesos (despite the fact that this price is not officially recognized, the value of the US currency has risen sharply), vacationing outside of Argentina is almost inaccessible for the middle class.
A common strategy used by Argentines to be able to pay for a trip abroad was to resort to payment plans when buying plane tickets or installments. However, at the end of last year the Government took the decision to also cut this possibility of paying in installments, under the pretext that this caused a massive flight of dollars. In turn, for some time now the Argentine government – left-wing Peronism – launched the Previaje plan, with the aim of promoting internal tourism, which consists of a program of incentives and discounts to reuse money from trips made within the country. .