Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Argentina at a Crossroads? Perspectives on Argentine Politics

Event Recap

The recent death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman and the pro- and anti-government marches that have engulfed the country since the incident provided the context for  “Argentina at a Crossroads? Perspectives on Argentine Politics,” a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS).  In launching the event, Watson Institute Faculty Fellow José Itzigsohn framed the narratives about Nisman’s death as part of a political struggle in Argentina and as a watershed moment that highlights key elements of Argentine politics. He went on to characterize the country’s political system as a ‘high-intensity democracy.’ He also pointed out that as a young democracy, many institutional arrangements are contested, pointing to the highly politicized justice system as an example.

Julián Rebón, a fellow with the Watson Institute’s Graduate Program in Development, described the cleavage that has developed between pro- and anti-government sectors in Argentine society, arguing that the first decade of this century represents a significant shift for that nation. He explained that over the past several years, Argentina’s streets have become a space for manifesting discontent with or support for the government. Rebón pointed out that the country is now more democratic and less unequal than it was before Kirchnerism, but that it also suffers from complex structural problems that have not been addressed.

Mark Healey, University of Connecticut Professor of History, began his remarks by highlighting some of the strengths and weaknesses of Kirchnerism in light of the waning “pink tide.” He echoed Professor Rebón’s assertion that Kirchnerism started out weak, but successfully took on well-established economic and political interests fairly early on by choosing a strategy of confrontation as a way of building political power and reformist projects. Healey also referenced two important issues that have been to a large extent eclipsed by the Nisman case: massive forest fires and flooding in different parts of Argentina. These issues point to the tensions created by the reliance on extractive industries.

CLACS Sarmiento Fellow Verónica Pérez described the role that the country’s government is occupying as a regulator and guarantor of rights, and asserted that the state has once again assumed an entrepreneurial function. The main focus of her presentation was state intervention in companies and services. Pérez pointed out that her research suggests that there is public support for state intervention in the economy.

The event, which offered  presentations and remarks in both Spanish and English, included a lively discussion session engaging members of the audience, which included Brown faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students as well as members of the local community.

The full content of this event is available here as a webcast.

Event Panelists:

Professor of Sociology and Watson Institute Faculty Fellow José Itzigsohn (Moderator)

Graduate Program in Development Fellow Julián Rebón (Universidad de Buenos Aires)

CLACS Sarmiento Fellow Verónica Pérez (Universidad Nacional de San Martín)

University of Connecticut Professor of History Mark Healey