Speaking about the sociopolitical changes in Latin America, former Governor Luis Fortuno He expressed that “Puerto Rico is not exempt from that wave” of populism, which he criticized, along with former Argentine President Mauricio Macri, at a round table held on Thursday in San Juan.
“Populism tries at first to convince you that it is coming to hit you, but in reality it ends up taking you away, it ends up taking away your freedom, it ends up taking away your chances of getting ahead and it even ends up plunging you into misery”, Fortuño argued against expansive governments.
Although both former presidents used the term populism, and Macri said that there is “right-wing populism”, they focused their criticism on interventionist government positions or measures more associated with leftist ideologies during the activity, which was sponsored by the Center for Economic Renewal, Growth and Excellence (Grow).
“We have seen it for the past couple of decades where we are trying to promote dependency on the government, where the government is bigger, keeps more of our money because they are going to handle it better than us,” Fortuño said, saying how he sees populism represented in Puerto Rico.
However, the economist Alba Brugeras explained that economic fundamentalisms tend to be strengthened by crises and can be seen both in leftist currents –which seek elements such as greater control of the local economy and deglobalization–, as well as in conservative currents that seek complete deregulation.
Regarding the criticism of large governments, the economist argued that the analysis should not be about size, but if it is adequate to be efficient.
Regarding the government of Puerto Rico, he argued that “Its reduction also has to do with those austerity measures and that transfer to other non-government sectors so that they attend to those needs, but the needs have not been adequately attended to”. He indicated that we must talk about the poor distribution of government resources.
Macri, meanwhile, said that the problem with these governments that “mortgage the future” is that they propose things that cannot be financed with the income they receive from taxes, which leads them to issue currencies, which, in turn, it increases inflation and, therefore, results in consumers seeing price increases.
“Since populism is a global threat, we must give it a global response, and we must build a narrative where we are all responsible, not a sector of politics, but the sector of politics, the entire civil society, the business world, universities and the media. Explain to the public that this proposal that I give you everything for free one day explodes, ”argued the former president of Argentina.
increased the debt
Both former presidents agreed that, just as a household cannot spend more than it generates, governments cannot spend more than they collect.
However, both Fortuño and Macri increased the public debt when they served as presidents. In 2018, Macri agreed to a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. In the case of Puerto Rico, Fortuño’s term represented the largest jump in public debt in a four-year period.
As for not having revalidated, the former president of Argentina argued that the problem was that they did not manage to lower inflation fast enough because they lacked control of the entire government apparatus and did not meet the high expectations that they promised the people.
“I would have worked much more on the symbolic. As an engineer, I believe that the works and the transformations speak for themselves, but today the narrative is also very important,” said Macri, who presided over Argentina from 2015 to 2019.