Alberto Fernández gave his last speech as president on Friday. He did so through a national network in which he took stock of his administration. It was, in short, his last message to the population before handing over the reins in two days to Javier Milei, who will succeed him in the post after winning the runoff against Sergio Massa.
The message was recorded on the morning of Friday, in the Patio de Las Palmeras of the Casa Rosada.
Below is Alberto Fernández's full speech:
Exactly 40 years ago, we were going through the last hours of the most ferocious military dictatorship in our history. We did so with hope for the future, and with the secret terror that the circle of authoritarianism and horror that marked much of our twentieth century could be repeated.
We did it. We were capable. The dictatorship, with its personal, political and economic consequences, took years to finally leave. And democracy went through many ups and downs until it was consolidated. And here we are, forty years later, on the eve of a new presidential handover.
The generation that waited that day with pain for those who were no longer there, with the strength of those who had resisted and hope for what we were going to build, perhaps could not imagine that four decades later we would be facing the institutional transfer of government from one political force to another of a different sign. both elected by the people.
And for me, who was then a young lawyer who had just graduated from the public university, I did not think at that time that the people of my homeland would grant me the immense honor of reaching this day as president of the Argentines. That is why today, on the last day of the Presidential mandate with which the citizens distinguished me, I want to review some milestones of these years, to share the successes, reflect on what we went wrong, tell those who will succeed us what is the state of the State they are going to receive and thank the effort, sacrifice and generosity of so many who in this time did not give up.
December 10 is the undisputed symbol of a democratic consensus that in four decades of validity has sustained, even with difficulties, plural coexistence and the strengthening of republican institutions.
It also expresses the unfinished challenges. In this time, we have not been able to resolve a solid economic matrix that allows access to a dignified life for all. We extend rights, but they are lacking. We set Social Justice as a horizon, but we didn't reach it.
I took office in December 2019 in a calamitous situation, left by the government that preceded me, with very high rates of poverty and inflation and a debt that compromised us for generations.
I am fully aware that the popular vote at that time expressed the hope of ending that legacy once and for all, and that we did not fully achieve the task.
Argentina is a much better country than it was four years ago: with more jobs, more infrastructure works built, more housing, more industry, more universities, more rights for women and dissidents, more development of science and technology. We are a country inserted in the world with autonomy, which rejects hegemonism and fights for multilateralism and which leads the unity of Latin America.
In this time of reflection, I cannot deny that I have mixed feelings. I am satisfied with everything that has been done and built, with the enormous progress we have made in many areas, with the growth that is taking place in many social and economic areas.
But I also regret that we were not able to achieve everything we set out to achieve. What we didn't do, what we were prevented from doing, what we shouldn't have done, or what we should have done differently. I know that I have responsibility for everything. Even though the moment in which we had to govern was unique and even when the Argentine context made everything more complex, I am not here to put the blame on others.
I hand over the government in peace, we have guarded the institutions of democracy with conviction and commitment. We have done so hand in hand with the people of the Argentine nation, who have been able to demonstrate, in the most adverse circumstances, that they know the exact dimension of what this institutionality has cost. I have confidence in my people, in their political maturity and in their ability to defend and preserve the values of common life and each of the rights they have been able to conquer.
At this particular moment in the world where hate speech and confrontation degrade debate, dehumanize coexistence and spiral violence and uncertainty, those of us who occupy public places have the obligation to be serene and recover dialogue. If there is one thing I reproach myself for, it is not having been able to put an end to the rift that separates us and confronts us.
I've learned that in order to close the crack you don't have to subdue the other. It is not a question of who imposes their narrative. What is needed is to walk side by side. Learn how to deepen agreements and minimize differences. Argentina is a wonderful country that we should all be proud of. That love and pride should be the common ground on which we accept our differences and build our coincidences.
The factors of power always seek to tame the people without caring how much it costs the people to satisfy so much greed. In these four years we have suffered the negative effects of a debt that was irresponsibly taken over by the government that preceded me. That is the main cause of our social and economic crisis.
The agreement we signed with the IMF made it possible to postpone payments that we would never have been able to cope with with the recessionary economy we received. We only have to remember that this debt forced us to pay between 2021 and 2022 the sum of 37,000 million dollars. Of that debt, taken irregularly, denounced before the federal courts and now the IMF itself begins to investigate, not a single dollar has remained in Argentina. Those dollars taken by Macrism were not used to found schools, hospitals or roads. Everything has leaked speculatively, deepening the constitution of foreign assets.
We knew from the outset that we had to face challenges that we knew well. We came to bring to our feet a country that had been left on its knees. We were pursuing that goal when, on the 99th day of our administration, challenges as unexpected as they were fatal began to occur. A pandemic that wiped out 15 million lives worldwide. A war that distorted all energy and food prices. Finally, a drought that wiped out 23% of our exports. We stood up to them.
When I enumerate this succession of conflicts, I seek to highlight the difficulties we faced. I do not intend them to serve as an excuse for our eventual mistakes.
In the pandemic, we preserve health without abandoning anyone to their fate. We put together a broken health system. In just over a quarter, we completed the construction of hospitals that had not been built, expanded health care facilities, and created 40 modular hospitals in different parts of the country. The more than 4,000 intensive care beds equipped with automatic ventilators ensured that everyone had the medical care they needed.
We decided to protect our citizens above all else. We asked them to stay in their homes because it was the only tool the medicine recommended. We were among the group of countries that initiated the immunity of their peoples and carried out the largest vaccination plan in our history.
We are looking for vaccines all over the world. We were part of the production of them. To date, we have inoculated more than 130 million doses of those vaccines. We have also developed our own vaccine, a milestone for Argentine science. We are among the countries that achieved high levels of immunity. My eternal gratitude to the men and women of our health care system who gave their all to save lives.
We prioritized health, but we did it while protecting the economic system. We put the State at the service of taking care of people, jobs and incomes. We created Work and Production Assistance, helped businesses, and millions of workers were able to keep their wages while factories, offices, and shops were closed.
With the Emergency Family Income, we help the most vulnerable sectors of our society. More than 9 million people were helped. We provided soft loans to small and medium-sized enterprises so that they could sustain themselves. We also granted soft loans so that consumption would not fall.
When the pandemic began to subside, we created PREVIAJE to give a boost to the sectors most affected by the emergency: the hotel and restaurant sector.
With the war, which sent energy prices soaring, we faced a new dilemma: we had to decide whether to preserve monetary reserves and stop imports, or guarantee imports of inputs so as not to stop production and work.
We chose to defend production and work, and it was the best option for our country. While the world suffered scheduled outages and we saw the big capitals shut down, we went through the winter with factories producing without interruption and with Argentine homes with an uninterrupted supply.
In the face of the drought, which deprived us of 23,000 million dollars, we opted to manage foreign exchange to ensure the import of inputs that would guarantee production. The investment rate in the first half of the year was the highest in the last 15 years. Economic activity is 7.5% higher than in 2019. Almost 67% of the installed industrial capacity is being used, the highest record since 2016.
Argentina saw its economy grow by 16% between 2021 and 2022. Registered employment began to grow for 37 uninterrupted months, the longest period of job creation observed in a democracy. Industrial employment is the highest it has been in six years. With employment, consumption increased and thus we recorded thirty consecutive months of growth. Private consumption today is 10% higher than before the pandemic.
The labour market continued to improve its indicators. The number of labour conflicts observed during our term of office has been the lowest in the last twelve years. The employment rate is at record levels of 44.6%; The unemployment rate was at an all-time low of 6.2%.
Total registered employment reached the highest levels since 2012 with 13,320,000 employed. With Law 27,570 we promoted new technologies, generated added value, fostered quality employment and increased exports from knowledge-based companies.
To strengthen the process of recovering purchasing power, we never suspended or put limits on parity negotiations. We eliminated the Income Tax for those who work. In the same direction, we take care of consumption and commerce. With Ahora 12, counting only the first 7 months of the year that ends, the program's sales reached a new record in operations. That implied an increase of more than 100% from the same period in 2022.
To ensure fair and federal development, throughout our mandate, we transfer resources to the provinces. Just a week ago, we transferred 230,000 million pesos, destined for the payment of salaries and Christmas bonuses.
The incoming government will find more than 1 trillion pesos in the National State's coffers. The public deserves to know, because every peso belongs to them.
In terms of energy, thanks to the Gas.AR Plan, we increased the levels of gas production. Argentina achieved a new record for unconventional gas production at Vaca Muerta: 62.3 million m3 per day.
Mining reached new records in job creation and exports. The sector marks 29 consecutive months with year-on-year increases in the number of jobs. At the same time, mineral exports represent the highest value exported since 2013.
We promoted technology in agriculture: we approved and launched HB4 wheat, which allows the seed to grow in water-stressed conditions. Today, this transgenic seed developed scientifically and technologically in Argentina has been approved in the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand.
We are proud to have driven scientific research and technological development. We had the most federal investment in science and technology in history. Argentina is not condemned to live by importing technology.
We have scientists of proven quality to be able to deploy the technology we need. This is proven by the multiple international recognitions in all disciplines.
Advancing our science is an imperative to live in the 21st century. It is neither fair nor intelligent to return Argentina to the logic of the nineteenth century.
The health of Argentines has once again become a priority for the State. In 2021, the infant mortality rate registered a new decrease at the national level, reaching eight per thousand. It is the lowest infant mortality rate in history. That means thousands of lives that are saved and have a future.
This decrease in infant mortality is explained, among other actions, by the impact of the "1000 Days Law", which we have promoted and sanctioned for comprehensive health care during pregnancy and early childhood.
This government accompanied the transformations demanded by the tide of feminism in the streets, and thus we managed to make history: we managed to sanction Legal, Safe and Free Abortion. It was a debt of democracy, following the path of expansion of individual rights that had so many advances in democracy and that must continue.
With the enactment of the law and the implementation of Comprehensive Sex Education, in just two years we achieved a 40% decrease in maternal mortality due to pregnancies ending in abortion and pregnancies among girls and adolescents were reduced by less than half.
Also in our government we made progress in the rights of trans people and we advanced in the strengthening of care policies with retirement contributions for care tasks, the construction of kindergartens and early childhood centers throughout the country and the sending of the law on paternal leave.
El futuro habita en nuestras escuelas, y hemos trabajado para que la educación pública, gratuita, inclusiva y de calidad llegue a todos y todas.
Construimos jardines y universidades, entregamos libros de texto y distribuimos cerca de 2 millones de Becas Progresar. Es una historia de guardapolvos blancos que ha llevado a los hijos de nuestro pueblo a las universidades públicas y lo más alto de la vida científica del mundo.
Gracias al Fondo de Garantía de Sustentabilidad del ANSES, tenemos un sistema de seguridad social sólido y confiable. Durante nuestra gestión, alcanzó los US$ 76.000 millones, el valor más alto de su historia. Y en estos cuatro años creció 117%. Es el fondo financiero más importante de América Latina. Y es de todas y todos los argentinos.
Quiero hacer un reconocimiento especial a las empresas estatales que han demostrado la capacidad de trabajo y de crecimiento que tiene el Estado.
Por un lado, Aerolíneas Argentinas termina con un balance positivo de USD 32 millones y sin necesidad de haber ejecutado un solo peso del presupuesto asignado por parte del Estado. Lo logra por primera vez desde su reestatización.
También ha sido récord la cantidad de pasajeros transportados, llegando a los 14 millones de personas. Es un verdadero orgullo nuestra aerolínea de bandera.
On the other hand, I want to highlight the extraordinary work that YPF has done, with profits that reached 926 million dollars and oil production that averaged 237 thousand barrels per day, a growth of 5%. YPF is a brand of our national identity, but above all it is a key piece in the productive matrix and in our energy sovereignty.
In addition, ARSAT once again demonstrated its importance in today's world, generating an increase in revenue of 823% during our tenure. ARSAT has guaranteed access to telecommunications service throughout the country, connecting Argentines with terrestrial and satellite infrastructure. Not only has it generated value for the nation, but it has also come to recognize a right of Argentines.
During this government, AYSA built 4000 km of networks, included one and a half million residents in drinking water networks and another half in sewer networks. Together with the World Bank, he began the Riachuelo System project, of which the first stage has already been completed, and which is the most important infrastructure work in the metropolitan area in 70 years that benefits almost six million inhabitants.
We started 7,000 public works and finished 4,000 of them. We have intervened 18,000 kilometers of roads throughout the length and breadth of the country. Bridges, tunnels, huge works and small but essential works for a community. There is not a municipality in Argentina that has not received some public works from the National Government.
We develop public works to gain strength in every corner of Argentina. We did it in a transparent way, we did it with Argentine strength, talent and work. We did it with the more than 400,000 construction workers who joined the productive apparatus. The data show that we ended up being the government that developed the most public works in its mandate.
This is attested by:
The "El Impenetrable" Aqueduct built to supply drinking water to thousands of people who live in the Chaco mountains.
The investments in the Malbrán Institute and the almost 40 modular hospitals that restored dignity and pride to our public health.
The buildings and other building works that we developed in national universities throughout the country and that benefited more than 1.5 million students.
The Tronador II, the first rocket produced in Argentina to put into orbit the satellites that we are building ourselves.
The CAREM reactor, the first Argentine low-power nuclear reactor built more than 80% in the city of Lima, Province of Buenos Aires.
The Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline, the largest public work carried out in democracy in just over nine months, which will allow us to save about 5,000 million dollars that until now we spent importing liquefied gas.
The more than 141,000 homes that we built and delivered to Argentine families who dreamed of having a roof over their heads, and the 96,000 homes that are being built also attest to this. We also gave loans for the purchase of lots with services, for the construction of our own house or for the expansion of them.
If the housing plan that we are promoting were to continue, next year another 50,000 families would be accessing their own homes. Therein lies the transcendence of a present State. If the state doesn't do it, there won't be anyone in the market who cares about doing it.
They are all concrete, real, material works, which remain once and for all in the heart of our homeland. And all the people who have been touched by those works are now living a little better.
Those who today have a house and didn't have one before, those who today have drinking water, those who had access to a laptop or a scholarship to study, those who went on vacation for the first time, those who have been treated in a hospital in their neighborhood where before there was no presence of the State, those who got a formal job. All of them have incorporated what was once a dream into the reality of their daily lives. And there is nothing more emancipatory than fulfilling our dreams.
This is an X-ray, not even detailed, of the state in which the new government will find our country. A more federal, fairer, more powerful country, with enormous possibilities of advancing on the path marked.
It is clear that in everyday life and in public debate, the owes weigh many times more than the credit, especially when they have to do with the effort of carrying out the day-to-day. We know that we have not achieved the objectives we set ourselves in strengthening income, fighting inflation and reducing poverty. Because the circumstances and the context were not with us and also because we should have done it better or differently or because we did not find the right tools.
Next year, around 35,000 million dollars will come in from our agricultural and livestock exports, gas and lithium exports. In addition, thanks to the pipeline we built, we will stop spending $5 billion to import liquefied gas.
Between now and 2030, estimates indicate that the combined exports of goods and services will grow by 80%.
With such a scenario, it is unreasonable to think of an adjustment that would stop our production and restrict the employment and consumption that we have worked so hard to recover. We must take care that under the argument of wanting to solve the fiscal problem, the rights of those who work are not violated or the aspirations of those who invest and produce are frustrated.
We have improved the levels of institutional quality that citizens in our country have been demanding for years: separation of powers, respect for freedoms and diversity, elimination of internal political intelligence mechanisms and illegal persecution.
Freedom of expression was absolute. Freedom of the press was absolute. I have been insulted, slandered, defamed and I have endured it without denouncing any journalist or any media. Without persecuting them either judicially or financially. We have never used the structure of the state to silence any voice.
Those who wanted to express their grievances in the public space were able to do so. Our security forces have never been accused of institutional violence.
We acted in good faith and have worked honestly. As I once said, I have given everything of myself in these four years of effort and I have only taken the enormous honor that has been granted to me of presiding over this Homeland that I love so much.
I have done so together with an extraordinary team of collaborators and today I want to thank those who accompanied me in the public service from the national government and also the governors, mayors and all those who dedicate every day of their lives to the only real tool for transformation into democracy: politics.
As Néstor always marked us, as Cristina always believed, I am convinced that we do politics in order to transform the Homeland. My appreciation to them as well.
I take with me the lingering joy of that early morning when the plane landed with the first vaccines, the uncertainty of a new war, the emotion of each family that received a house, the terror of the night the vice president was attacked, the pride of having launched the gas pipeline that changes our energy matrix once and for all. the dignity of having brought drinking water to the impenetrable Chaco, the decision to continue demanding wherever I have to be the immediate release of the hostages that Hamas has hidden somewhere in Gaza.
I carry with me the deep pain of not having been able to improve the lives of those who are still in poverty.
I'm not going to choose the comfortable place of waiting for the judgment of history, which is usually kind to former presidents because it hides the chiaroscuro of the present. I listen and take charge of the judgment of my contemporaries. Of their enthusiasm, their anger and their criticism.
That's why it doesn't matter where I happen to be from tomorrow. At the very moment when I hand over the attributes of power, I will once again be that young lawyer guided by the search for liberty, equality and fraternity, ready to give everything to build, together with my compatriots, a just society that develops in peace. Always with each one of you. Forever grateful for the immense honor they bestowed upon me.
After 40 years of democracy, let us defend it every day, as the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo taught us, and all those who marked the path for us. More and better democracy, always.