A sombre President Mauricio Macri appeared on national television on 8 May to make the announcement he perhaps most dreaded upon taking office in December 2015: Argentina will seek financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The short-term objective is to restore market confidence, stop the run on the peso, which has been losing value against the US dollar at a rate of knots, and stave off a financial crisis. But returning to the IMF is not just an economic decision in Argentina. It is eminently political. For many Argentines, the IMF is toxic. It is blamed for the economic debacle of 2001. The biggest sovereign default in history brought down the government, and the ensuing social trauma is not easily forgotten. At a stroke Macri has revived a divided political opposition and imperilled his chance of re-election in 2019.

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