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Column 071612 Brewer

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is the Argentinean Nation being led into a Leftist Abyss?  

By Jerry Brewer

Argentina's much awaited ascension in the early 1980s, after surviving the military dictatorship that was deemed fully responsible for the "Dirty War," as well as the calamitous invasion of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, shortly "took root in 1983."

Under the leadership of the late President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and his successor -- his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007- present), Argentina eventually descended and digressed to shamefully achieve the reputation of "a pariah state among international creditors." Presently Argentina "has more disputes pending against it than any other nation."

Under Nestor Kirchner, Argentina abandoned much of its previous alignment with the U.S. This turn of events led to stronger ties with other Latin American countries within the "Mercosur," and a rejection of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

A prelude of impending disaster for Argentina began in 2006, when Kirchner visited Venezuela and attended a military parade alongside its leftist President Hugo Chavez and the latter's fellow traveler, President Evo Morales of Bolivia. On that occasion Chavez "called for a defensive military pact between the armies of the region with a common doctrine and organization."  Kirchner was quoted in a speech to the Venezuela national assembly that "Venezuela represented a true democracy fighting for the dignity of its people." Kirchner's remaining days in office as president closely followed his alignment with much of the Chavez doctrine.

Chavez had planned to travel to Argentina in August 2007 to refinance billions of US dollars in Argentine debt through bond purchases and announce a natural gas deal.  However, on August 4, 2007 Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, a Venezuelan-US entrepreneur claiming to be part of Chavez's entourage arrived in Argentina with Venezuelan state officials on a private flight chartered by Argentina's state oil company, carrying nearly "US$800,000 in cash which he failed to declare." The Chavez regime was accused of funneling "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to the presidential campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to replace her husband as president.  Chavez was quick to deny the accusations, and as usual pointed an antagonistic finger at the "U.S. Empire."

President Fernandez de Kirchner has received much attention from Hugo Chavez since her inauguration as president in October 2007. Chavez wasted little time in riling up those Argentines that remained incensed by the struggle over the Falkland Islands/Malvinas dispute.  Furthermore, the 59-year-old Fernandez's regime has recently, on the 30th anniversary of the war over the islands, gone so far as to exhort companies to shun British imports, among similar threats.

Most disappointing has been the taking of a page from the socialist doctrine of Chavez on expropriation, as Argentina announced the seizure of controlling interest in the YPF oil company in Argentina, 51 percent of which is owned by the Spanish oil concern Repsol. This action mirrors many of Chavez's actions in nationalizing businesses in Venezuela, and caught on with leftist presidents Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Morales in Bolivia.  As for Fernandez de Kirchner, in a fire-and-brimstone speech on TV she blamed "foreigners" for the energy shortages plaguing the country.

Too, Fernandez raised many eyebrows when she recently joined neighboring leftist governments in voting to support a Palestinian state, this with such a large Jewish population in Argentina that has been victimized by terrorist bombings.

Making even fewer friends, not long ago Mexico withdrew from a zero-tariff agreement with Argentina after the Argentine government's decision to pull out of an auto trade pact, known as ACE-55, between the two countries. Argentina's withdrawal reactivated a 35 percent tariff on Mexican automobiles.  This incident has "prompted the Mexican government to prepare a case against Argentina to present to the World Trade Organization regarding the protectionist measures."

In early July Argentina's central bank officially announced the enforcement of currency controls, saying that banks could no longer sell US dollars for the purposes of savings or investment. The dollar ban is a graphic sign of failed Socialist policies. Plus banks have been told they'll have to lend $3 billion to politically favored businesses.

To avoid 23% inflation, many Argentines are looking elsewhere to put their money while Argentina officials appear to be misleading the people about inflation statistics. "In a worrisome sign, 12-month inflation expectations held steady at 30% for a fourth consecutive month in a closely followed monthly survey published in June by the respected Torcuato Di Tella University," according to a piece in The Wall Street Journal on July 13.

Argentina and the Fernandez de Kirchner regime must be extremely careful not to step too far out on the Chavez bridge of socialist spontaneity bliss. Hugo Chavez's decision to kick the U.S. DEA out of Venezuela also caught on with Bolivia's Morales and Ecuador's Correa, with Correa refusing to renew the lease for the drug interdiction base at Manta for U.S. drug interdiction efforts in the region.

The ripple effect from those actions is graphically illustrated as Argentina now consumes five times more cocaine than the global average, and has one of the highest usage rates in the world.  Argentina has the highest prevalence of cocaine use among adults in South America. And international trafficking groups have recently expanded their activities within Argentina, "increasing exportation and transforming it from a transit point into a destination for consumption and synthesis," a piece in Foreign Policy reported last April 19.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/


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