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Nicolás Del Caño and the Left in the Presidential Debate

For the first time ever last Sunday, Argentina’s presidential debate was publicly broadcasted on live television. Front-running candidate — and Kirchner’s favorite — Daniel Scioli was a no-show. During the debate, dissident peronist Sergio Massi and Cambiemos leader Mauricio Macri (Mayor of Buenos Aires) failed to gain ground. Left and Workers’ Front (FIT) leader Nicolás del Caño (MP) made a strong case.

Gloria Grinberg

October 9, 2015
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Photo: Rodrigo Wilson – Fer NInel

The empty podium left by Scioli had high political costs. However, had Scioli participated, the cost may have been even higher. His presence in the presidential debate would have shown the similarities between his policy and that of the bourgeois opposition, mainly Macri and Massa, in a context of economic stagnation. Poor performance in the debate would endanger prospects of achieving his goal of a 40% vote.

Massa was generally deemed the right-wing winner, outdoing both Macri, who failed to demonstrate a combative attitude, and the esoteric Rodriguez Saá.

All the analysis showed Nicolás Del Caño from the Left and the Workers’ Front as being one of the main personalities of the debate. Journalist Lacunza pointed out that “he made the best use of the questions against his rivals; he identified properly his enemy and knew how to introduce his own agenda.”

The difference between the Workers’ and the Left Front and the rest of the parties was clear. As Nicolás Del Caño stated recently on Intratables (one of Argentina’s most popular TV programs), “The left is not applying to become the manager of the capitalist’s businesses.” This position starkly contrasts with the rest of the coalitions that are running in the presidential election.

The Need for a New Debate

Since the televised program last Sunday, Del Caño, Massa and Macri have requested another debate to take place before the approaching October 25 elections. Their reasons included the all-too-short speaking periods, impossibility of questioning other candidates, and Scioli’s absence during the first debate. So far, their request has not been granted.
At the same time, the mainstream media, which largely refused to broadcast the debate, has faced broad criticism. The program received very high viewer ratings, although the main TV channels (ie., Television Pública and Todo Noticias, TN) decided not to convey it in order to play down the debate.

The first public presidential debate in Argentina’s history was useful in demonstrating the differences between the bourgeois parties and the Left — represented by Nicolás del Caño. A new debate will allow for a deeper discussion.

Del Caño’s Allegations: True and Double-Checked

The Left and the Workers’ Front (FIT) candidate made clear allegations that were checked by the website Chequeado.com. Massa, Macri and Rodriguez Saa aimed to delegitimize the FIT candidate’s positions. In contrast to Del Caño’s concrete arguments, the other candidates rested on generalities and abstractions.

“Nicolas, I’m sorry that at the end of the debate you’re saying a lie,” answered Massa when Del Caño questioned his moral authority to condemn the “absenteeism” among the teachers, pointing out Congressman Massa’s absence from 90% of all congressional voting sessions. The parliamentary register validates this claim.

At the end of the debate, Del Caño said, “If Scioli had been here, this would have been a festival of false promises, the three ‘political sons’ of Menem [president during the 90’s neoliberal era in Argentina] have the same style [referring to Scioli, Massa and Macri].” Menem promised a rise in salaries and a “productive revolution,” but instead, the people were hit with privatization and massive unemployment.

Del Caño’s Statements were Checked and Proven to be True:

Emergency housing: According to “Chequeado,” Nicolás’ statement, “Three million families are now in emergency housing,” is true.

Macri reduced the education budget: “This year Buenos Aires city had the lowest education budget under his government”, said Nicolas in the debate. This was also proved to be correct.

Cuba and child mortality: “Chequeado” reveals information from the World Bank (an institution that is vehemently opposed to socialism and communism) and confirmed that those countries with the lowest rate of child mortality are Cuba and Canada. In the case of the Caribbean Island, these records calculate 4 out of every 1000 children (<1 year old) and 6 out of every 1000 children (<5 years old). The same source calculates higher rates in Argentina, 11 and 13 of every 1000 children. Clandestine abortions: Del Caño mentioned this fact after stating: “Argentina has enough resources to end child mortality, no more kids dead for preventable causes nor suffering from malnutrition”. He asked the audience to look to the achievements of the Cuban revolution although “we do not support the Castros’ political regime”.

The same site says: Del Caño proposed the legalization of abortion, arguing that the number of women who have died as a result of illegal abortions must be reduced. Abortion in Argentina is illegal except in the case of rape or lifetime risk for the mother. Del Caño confirmed that each year, more than 300 women die in Argentina. He makes this statement based on dozens of reports from women’s, human rights and political organizations concerned with putting an end to deaths caused by clandestine abortions.

While the capitalist candidates only tried to distinguish themselves from each other talking about abstract issues and general statements that promise no real change, the Left and the Workers’ Front headed by Nicolás del Caño was strengthened after the presidential debate.

In order to proove the relation between their electoral demagogy and what Scioli, Macri or Massa are really planning to do we just have to take a look at what happened in Brazil in the political campaign last year. The official government and the opposition promised the earth but Dilma finally applied brutal economic cuts against the workers and the poor that were supported by the bourgeois opposition. They have the same plans for Argentina.

*This article was based on the analysis made by La Izquierda Diario (Argentina) in the following articles:


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Gloria Grinberg

Gloria is a teacher from Buenos Aires, an editor of the international section of our sister site La Izquierda Diario in Argentina and a member of the Party of Socialist Workers (PTS).


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