Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina's Cristina Fernandez criticises elite

Cristina Fernandez at swearing in ceremony, 25 May 2013
Ms Fernandez was elected to a second term in office in 2011

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has criticised her country's elite for trying to create a negative image of her government.

"These small sectors have done well through history, they have kept the lion's share," Ms Fernandez said in an interview with state television.

She added that most Argentines are better off now than when she came to power.

"Argentina is growing by 5% a year in a world that is collapsing," she said.

She accused the country's media of misleadingly "creating an image people believe in".

"Many want to go to back to the Argentina of the past, where labour cost was much lower and profit margins from speculation much higher," she told Television Publica.

She said privileged sectors in Argentina "have failed to learn from history, or believe that history can be repeated indefinitely."

Financial meltdown

Her government had reduced unemployment and raised the standard of living, she said, through successful development and growth public policies.

Ms Fernandez said Argentina's transformation began when her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, took office as president in May 2003.

He took over a country recovering for the financial collapse which culminated in street riots at the end of 2001.

Argentina enjoyed several years of strong economic growth during his government.

"Enough corruption," reads a banner held by anti-government protester in Buenos Aires

He was succeeded by Cristina Fernandez, who was first elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011 with 54% of the vote.

But her popularity has since declined, according to opinion polls, and protesters have taken to the streets to denounce widespread corruption and high inflation.

Ms Fernandez has also had a difficult relationship with the country's media. Under her government, the Congress approved a new media law that critics say restricts press freedom.

She also introduced tighter regulations for Argentines attempting to buy foreign currency.

In her interview with state television, Ms Fernandez said the measure was necessary.

"As president I look after the interests of 40 million Argentines. So, as I don't print dollars, I need dollars to pay the debt I haven't created."

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