The President before the demands of history
Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister when Adolf Hitler was advancing over half of Europe. Seeing the indecision of his predecessor, the conservative leader said that “he who humiliates himself to avoid war, will have humiliation and will also have war.” And he faced the ferocious German dictator with “blood, sweat and tears” without the certainty of knowing if victory awaited him at the end of that tortuous road. But it was played the same way.
The difference between any politician and a colossal statesman is measured in those crucial moments when, at his own risk and feeling, he must have the lucid strength that history demands of him to try to change the course of events.
Hours after taking office, Raúl Alfonsín faced a disturbing dilemma. When the military apparatus was still intact and powerful, he made the decision to put the boards of commanders on the bench, knowing that he was exposing himself to serious institutional risks. That first gesture of authority was the foundation of the solidity of the democracy that we have lived without interruption for almost 40 years.
Decisions that mark a before and after. On the other hand, when indecision is the main engine of a ruler, there is no before or after. There is chatura, disorientation, uncertainty, hopelessness. Lukewarmness and consensus are antagonistic terms. The lukewarm lack authority and leave everyone dissatisfied. Solid and lasting consensus requires firm and consistent leaders.
There was only one moment in the two years that Alberto Fernández has been at the summit of power when history clearly knocked on his door. It was not, by the way, on Friday when he announced the laborious agreement with the International Monetary Fund, after a cumbersome and endless process that began on the first day of his administration and that he could not finalize before due to the enormous internal contradictions of the coalition that installed it. at the Pink House.
It was in the following days that the result was so negative for the PASO ruling party. All the differences that moderates and ultras of the Frente de Todos had hidden under the carpet up to that moment exploded in the worst way with Cristina Kirchner’s thunderous public letter, Fernanda Vallejos’s insulting audios and the surprising resignations of the cristinista ministers, then rejected.
During those hours, the President pondered if he should not take the great step of making history by releasing the ballast of such toxic allies that they did not stop striving for him, after having cornered key organizations such as PAMI and Anses and all the second ministerial lines. There were governors and mayors who were waiting for that decisive presidential pronouncement, but Fernández wanted that operational clamor to be prior. He lacked courage and the inspiration of a proper statesman in the face of such a risky option.
Could he have seen himself reflected in the mirror of Fernando de la Rúa, who barely survived a year in power when his main electoral partner, the then vice president Chacho Álvarez, resigned from his post? Has he weighed that there is no internal force that can oppose a current leader within Peronism, as is the case of Cristina Kirchner? Was he afraid to suffer from the sidewalk across the street the onslaught of all Kirchnerism, with the vice at the head, and La Cámpora filing it down until it precipitated its end? Or did you feel that you owe eternal loyalty to the agreement with CFK that anointed you at the head of the formula that won the elections in November 2019?
Any of these hypotheses, or others, that Alberto Fernández has analyzed, finally decided to uphold the ruinous status quo that bogs down his government in a gray mediocrity of constant procrastination, which does not solve the urgent and lacks memorable episodes. When the President sat between Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Axel Kicillof at the beginning of the pandemic, his image did not stop growing. It had been a bold and innovative gesture that could not be sustained over time.
The ultraK offensive after the PASO, was it not, perhaps, a summons to Fernández to limit himself to being a mere executor of the vice-presidential designs? The President was then able to kick that poison board, but he didn’t and his fate was sealed.
The ink in his pen never ends up reaching his tip with force to endorse a specific economic plan or to displace the officials who have to be displaced, whether they are called Federico Basualdo or Luana Volnovich. The comings and goings with the IMF, the war cries against the institution from the vice president herself, from Honduras, and from her lieutenants here until a minute before the agreement was announced, show that no one wins internally and that everyone ends up neutralizing each other.
In his brief speech the day before yesterday, the President seemed to be speaking to himself when he said: “History will judge who did what.” Wise words.