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President and peso in Argentina both in retreat

Feb. 1, 2014 at 12:27 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A currency crisis in Argentina has coincided with a withdrawal of President Cristina Fernandez from public appearances, political analysts say.

The value of the peso in Argentina eroded 19 percent in January, including a dramatic 15 percent plunge Jan. 23 and 24, the New York Times said Saturday. The peso slid from 6.9 to the dollar to 8 to the dollar in two days, the Times said.

For 2013, a year in which the peso started at 4.97 to the dollar, the peso dropped more than 60 percent. The eroding peso has coincided with high inflation and a record drop in the value of the central bank's reserves, MercoPress reported.

Economists have pegged the inflation rate for 2013 at 28 percent, although the official rate is 10.9 percent, the Times said.

"It's at this time when a strong presence is needed, but presidential communication is in a stage of strategic retreat," Marcelo Garcia, a political communications researcher at the Society for International Development, told the Times.

Kirchner has made few public appearances since undergoing surgery in October to treat a blood clot near her brain, the Times said. She has posted on Twitter in recent weeks, but has avoided the topic of the peso's value.

A Management & Fit poll of 1,600 people nationwide indicated Kirchner's approval rating fell from 42 percent in November to 27 percent in January.

The country's reserves lost $2.5 billion in January. Last year, it lost $12.69 billion, the newspaper said.

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