The Pope at the Bedside of Peronism

April 27, 2021
Entrance to the Vatican Apostolic Library

Pope Francis received Argentina’s Minister of the Economy, who was touring Europe in April 2021, to secure a renegotiation of his country’s debt. This is a sign of strong support for a prominent member of the Peronist government who currently holds the reins of power in Argentina.

Would the rescue operation for Peronism go through the Vatican? Perhaps, judging by the audience Pope Francis granted on April 14, 2021, to one of his compatriots, Martin Guzman.

The Argentinian Minister of the Economy has not traveled 11,000km just to receive the papal blessing, but rather for a support of strong symbolic value, at a time when his country is experiencing a most difficult economic situation.

Martin Guzman was in fact responsible for renegotiating the debt of 45 billion dollars contracted with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 2.4 billion dollars with the Paris Club, an informal group of international creditors placed under the aegis of the French Treasury.

However, Buenos Aires will tell it to whoever wants to hear it: Argentina is unable to repay its loans, at least according to the timetable currently imposed on it.

Indeed, as it stands, the country’s net reserves stand at $4 billion, according to private firms. This leaves little flexibility, given the 3.8 billion dollars to be paid to the IMF between September and December 2021 ...

So, at the beginning of April 2021, the Roman Pontiff publicly called on the IMF and the World Bank Group (WBG) to enact a “significant reduction in debt” to poor countries, in what he considers to be “a deeply human gesture.”

“A spirit of global solidarity requires at least a significant reduction in the debt burden of the poorest nations, made worse by the pandemic,” Pope Francis said, in a discreet allusion to his country of origin, clearly understood by his interlocutors.

Another circumstance muddies the waters: the partial legislative elections must be held in October 2021, except if there is a postponement, more and more likely due to the second wave of Covid-19 which is hitting the country.

And it has not been proven that the center-left government can stay in power, given the context of the crisis the country is going through. The support of Pope Francis is therefore timely.

A support which should not be surprising as the Argentine pontiff has never made a secret of his preferences towards governments with a strong social tendency in line with the historical Peronism born in 1945. The Pope of Piedmontese descent has moreover been linked to a Peronist tendency in his youth.

Now, the President of the Argentine Republic, Alberto Fernandez, is part of this trend.

In Vatican City, many feel chagrined that the successor of Peter did not put forth so much effort when it came to defending the life of the unborn child, when the Argentine Senate was preparing to legalize abortion last December.

Moreover, one last gesture did not deceive anyone: the Argentinian Minister of the Economy was received in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope usually receives heads of state.