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Agreement with the Fund: several early morning zooms and hot translations against the clock


At 4 in the morning, Martín Guzmán was still on the fifth floor of the Ministry of Economy with his MacBook open. Never, in the last days of the intense negotiations of the final stretch of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had he been able to leave his office in the Palacio de Hacienda during the day. The same – they said in those corridors – will happen tonight, despite having sealed the deal. The final versions of the documents that crystallize what the country has committed to for the coming years are not yet available. Before 10 pm on Wednesday, Guzmán had managed to snack on something lying with his computer on his lap in one of the armchairs in his office. It was a small oasis before the negotiations got bogged down again with the translation of some concepts. “Traduttore traditore”, they portrayed with an old Italian saying. At midnight, the minister spoke with President Alberto Fernández about the issue. He didn’t want to leave any loose ends. It bothered him to leave some interpretations open, especially some related to the disbursements of US$45,000 million that the Government would receive from the Fund in each of the ten quarterly reviews that the agency’s technical staff must carry out in the country. In discount time, the President supported the minister and the discussions continued until late at night. The minister was accompanied by Sergio Chodos, Argentine representative in the IMF and a man of his extreme confidence, and Rita Tanuz, Legal and Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Economy. The memorandums went back and forth between Buenos Aires and Washington, the words changed, the noises appeared, and they fought until the last comma, they say. “The other also plays and they could play with time,” said sources familiar with the negotiation. about the deadline at the end of this month with the Paris Club and the payment of capital to the IMF. “In fact, in Washington it is two hours less and you are not negotiating with a neighborhood club. You are negotiating with the IMF”, they joked.Guzmán maintained contact with the managing director of the Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, during the night. as he had done last Tuesday when closing the main sections of the agreement, although the daily details -and the final ones- were always with Julie Kozack, deputy director of the Fund’s Western Hemisphere Department. At 7 in the morning, the minister returned to talk to the president. The contacts were permanent, since the president demanded updated minutes of the progress of the agreement. He was accompanied by Vilma Ibarra. “This clause did not enter. We managed to avoid it”, celebrated a somewhat disheveled Chodos in a light blue shirt, already around noon. She was walking on the fifth floor of the Treasury with her computer in hand, evaluating the details of the final documents one by one.At 1:00 p.m., Guzmán notified the President that they had managed to close the debt agreement with the international organization. At the same time, the Minister of Economy called the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Massa, who was already with the block leaders. In addition, he sent him a summary of the project that would enter the lower house of Congress. Nobody rules out or confirms in Economy whether Guzmán finally spoke with Cristina Kirchner to inform her of it, just as she did at the end of the negotiations with the private creditors. Those were other times for that relationship. In Cristina Kirchner’s nucleus of influence, they say that it was not the Minister of Economy who sent the details to the former president. The order to begin publicly communicating that the back and forth with the Fund had concluded came at 2:00 p.m. “Secure official sources: Alberto Fernández and Martín Guzmán closed the agreement with the IMF,” was the alert that began to reach journalists . A few minutes later, the communiqué from the Ministry of Economy began to be distributed, along with the confirmation from the IMF. Guzmán did not celebrate. He only went back to his office to go over all the legal aspects of the closed agreement with Tanuz and Chodos. The Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies and the Memorandum of Technical Understanding were not immediately submitted to Congress. In the Ministry of Economy, as was done with the 2022 budget project that was not approved, it was believed that these details were going to enter -virtually- at the Deputies’ entrance table late at night. Despite this, the synthesis of the bill was already circulating among the deputies. The original, according to some sources with knowledge of the subject, is about 20 pages long. Until today, Guzmán’s presence in Congress on Monday to respond to what the country had agreed to legislators had not been confirmed. The minister will go, although the when had not yet been defined. That will be, they discount, a defining moment. He will be harassed by the opposition of Together for Change, but also by those in the hardest cristinismo who question the closing of an agreement with the IMF, among them, those who still respond to Máximo Kirchner.

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