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BAUEN, day 30

The decline of the Bauen paralleled the decline of the country. The year 2001 was full of disastrous measures, starting with the ruinous business of the “Megaswap” of external debt, negotiated by (among others) Federico Sturzenegger, president of the Central Bank fifteen years later with Mauricio Macri. There was also the brutal attempt at adjustment in education that marked the brief tenure of Ricardo López Murphy in the Ministry of Economics, which was repudiated by enormous mobilizations of students and teachers. And then there was the resulting return to the economic guidance of the father of the whole crumbling mess, the creator of convertibility, Domingo Cavallo. In July of 2001, the newspapers reported that unemployment had reached 16.4%, a figured only exceeded by the 17.3% registered in 1996. Together with the announcement of “zero deficit” as an economic goal came a 13% cut to pensions and salaries of state employees, and a series of measures that were more and more unpopular, while things were getting worse: the pickets of the unemployed, mobilizations by different social and political sectors, and the widespread sense, soon corroborated by facts, that the country was picking up pace as it walked towards the abyss.

De la Rua resigned in December of 2001, when the economic measures imposed by Cavallo—especially “the corralito” that confiscated deposits and mainly affected the middle class, and, in a domino effect, the poorest sectors—were not able stop the crisis that led to the massive protests of December of 2001, for which the state of emergency decreed by the President himself served as the detonator. The social uprising and the unprecedented institutional crisis combined an enormous wave of looting by hungry crowds in suburban neighborhoods and in many cities with a massive mobilization of the middle and working classes in the capital shouting “Out with all of them!” It also forced the resignation, first of Domingo Cavallo (the night of December 19) and, several hours hours and 35 deaths later, of Fernando de la Rúa, who fled the Pink House [Presidential residence] in a helicopter flight that remains engraved in the tragic memory of the country.


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