Argentina | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017



Freedom Status: 

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Buenos Aires
Press Freedom Status: 
Partly Free
Net Freedom Status: 

Argentina is a vibrant representative democracy, with competitive elections and lively public debate. Corruption and violent crime are the country’s most serious challenges.

Key Developments: 
  • Former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and several members of her administration faced corruption investigations for their actions while in office. President Mauricio Macri, who was elected in 2015, cooperated with a corruption investigation into his own affairs.
  • Macri’s government held regular press conferences, and has been more open about policy than past administrations.
  • The government instituted reforms at the previously discredited national statistics agency, and in September passed an access to information law.
  • In October, a UN panel called on Argentina to release prominent community activist Milagro Sala, who had been in pretrial detention since January on charges the panel called unclear.
Executive Summary: 

The new government of President Macri, which took office in December 2015, made efforts in 2016 to improve government transparency. Its initiatives included an overhaul of the country’s discredited statistics agency, and the approval of a freedom of information law. Macri’s government also has a much more open relationship with the press than the previous administrations of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, who held the presidency before her. And while corruption remains endemic, a number of high-profile corruption investigations were ongoing in 2016, including a number that targeted Cristina Kirchner and members of her former administration. Additionally, the Panama Papers—a trove of leaked legal documents that revealed potentially corrupt business activities by powerful individuals around the world—showed that Macri held directorships of offshore companies that he had not declared to tax authorities. Macri was cooperating with an investigation into the matter.

Macri’s government faced a difficult year as it sought to restore macroeconomic credibility and investor confidence in the country, following a dozen years of rule by the Kirchners. This has entailed undoing several of the Kirchners’ populist policies, including reducing energy subsidies and easing restrictions on foreign currency purchases; the latter has dramatically facilitated Argentines’ access to foreign currency and made travel abroad more accessible. However, public-spending cuts by the Macri government also resulted in the elimination of thousands of public-sector jobs. Cuts to the Kirchners’ massive state advertising budget—which had propped up a number of outlets that were supportive of their respective administrations—resulted in job losses in the media sector.

The economic adjustment has tested the patience of ordinary Argentines, many of whom have so far failed to see its benefit as their purchasing power has been eroded by high inflation and increased prices for public services. Workers staged various strikes calling for wage increases and firing freezes in 2016.

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