Joined: 07 Sep 2006
|Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:49 am Post subject: Do we see similarities btwn Argentina & the USA?
|I wish I could speak with my grand-aunt who was politically connected in Salta and Buenos Aires, but she has passed away some years' back and was kind of senile for a decade or so previous to that. So I can't say all of the info from Wiki below is accurate. We were aware of the turmoil that kept Argentina in frequent changes, and our mail between them and us was constantly reviewed by their (and maybe our own) government.
Anyway, her decendants are alive and doing very well still, my Mom being kept up-to-date by her cousin, but they avoid political discourse in their letters and phone calls. (My Mom doesn't care except to know her family is okay, and likewise her cousin feels the same way. Our family has been riddled with enough devistation leaving only myself, born in freedom, to question details.)
I see similarilites, and perhaps forthcoming politico-economic situations, because 1) that's the international process and 2) history repeats itself.
Excerpts from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentina#History
|The era between 1880 and 1929 saw Argentina enjoy increasing prosperity and prominence while emerging as one of the 10 richest countries in the world, benefiting from an agricultural export-led economy. Driven by immigration and decreasing mortality, the Argentine population grew six-fold and the economy, by 15-fold. Conservative interests dominated Argentine politics through non-democratic means until, in 1912, Pres. Roque Sáenz Peña enacted universal male suffrage and the secret ballot. This allowed their traditional rivals, the centrist Radical Civic Union, to win the country's first free elections in 1916. Pres. Hipólito Yrigoyen enacted social and economic reforms and extended assistance to family farmers and small business; but, having been politically imposing and beset by the great depression, the military forced him from power in 1930. This led to another decade of Conservative rule, whose economists turned to more protectionist policies.
The country was neutral during World War II. Political change led to the presidency of Juan Perón in 1946, who worked to empower the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers and of social and educational programs. Perón's wife, Eva Perón (better known as "Evita") played an important role as first lady during Perón's first two administrations. She was a driving force behind Perón's success among the working class and quickly became a phenomenon that is still researched today. Born into poverty herself, Evita never forgot the hardships her family endured during her childhood. In 1947, she created the Eva Perón Foundation, which provided for an array of services and needs to the working class and poor of Argentina, such as basic items like pots and pans, sewing machines and even fully furnished houses. The foundation built thousands of schools, hospitals, orphanages, and even Evita City, which still thrives today.
This was the first time the country had seen such a shift in attention to aiding the poor and it did not sit well with the oligarchy. Evita was seen as the "bridge of love" between Perón and the people. She championed women's suffrage and organized the Peronist Women's Party. Throughout Perón's first and second term as president, his economists encouraged accelerated industrial development, increasingly important since the 1920s. Following Evita's untimely death in 1952 at age 33, Perón's administration became increasingly distracted by struggles with the Roman Catholic Church. A violent coup deposed him in 1955 and he fled into exile, eventually residing in Spain.
Following an attempt to purge the Peróns' influence and the banning of Peronists from political life, elections in 1958 brought the more moderate Arturo Frondizi to office. Frondizi enjoyed some support from Perón's followers and his policies encouraged needed investment in energy and industry, both of which were chalking up sizable trade deficits for Argentina. The military, however, frequently interfered on behalf of conservative interests and the results were mixed; Frondizi was forced to resign in 1962 and, following two more civilian administrations weakened by military pressure, the armed forces retook power in a quiet 1966 coup. Though repressive, this new regime continued to encourage domestic development and invested record amounts into public works; during those years the economy grew strongly and income poverty declined to 7% by 1975, still a record low. Due in part to their repressiveness, political violence began to escalate and, from exile, Perón skillfully co-opted student and labor protests, which eventually resulted in the military regime's call for free elections in 1973 and his return from Spanish exile. Taking office that year, Perón passed away in July 1974, leaving his third wife Isabel, the Vice President, to succeed him in office. Mrs. Perón had been chosen as a compromise among feuding Peronist factions who could agree on no other running mate; secretly, though, she was beholden to Perón's most Fascist advisers. The resulting conflict between left and right-wing extremists led to mayhem and financial chaos and, on 24 March 1976, a military coup removed her from office.
The self-styled National Reorganization Process promptly repressed opposition and leftist groups using brutal, illegal measures (the "Dirty War"); thousands of dissidents "disappeared", while the SIDE cooperated with Chile's DINA, other South American intelligence agencies and with the CIA in Operation Condor. Many of the military leaders that took part in the Dirty War were trained in the U.S.-financed School of the Americas, among them Argentine dictators Roberto Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri. This new dictatorship at first brought some stability and built numerous important public works; but their frequent wage freezes and deregulation of finance led to a sharp fall in living standards and record foreign debt. Deindustrialization, the peso's collapse and crushing real interest rates, as well as unprecedented corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War discredited the military regime and led to free elections in 1983. Raúl Alfonsín's government took steps to account for the "disappeared", established civilian control of the armed forces and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. The previous regime's foreign debt, however, left the Argentine economy saddled by the conditions imposed on it by both its private creditors and the IMF and priority was given to servicing the foreign debt at the expense of public works and domestic credit. Alfonsín's failure to resolve worsening economic problems caused him to lose public confidence. Following a 1989 currency crisis that resulted in a sudden and ruinous 15-fold jump in prices, he left office five months early.
Newly elected, President Carlos Menem began pursuing privatizations; but after a second bout of hyperinflation in 1990, reached out to Economist Domingo Cavallo, who imposed a peso-dollar fixed exchange rate in 1991 and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations and implementing vast privatizations. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s; but the peso's fixed value could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars, resulting in a renewed increase in the foreign debt. The peso-dollar parity also made imports a bargain again and left much local industry out of the era's prosperity; while part of the population was saving in dollars, traveling overseas and purchasing imported and luxury goods cheaply, the rest of the population experienced an increase in crime and unemployment. The IMF and economists in general praised the liberalization of the Argentine market and the country was presented as a "model student;" towards 1998, however, a series of international financial crises and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. The sense of stability and well being which had prevailed during the 1990s eroded quickly and by the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and perceived corruption had made Menem unpopular.
Brazilian Presidents "Lula" da Silva (since 2003) and Jose Sarney (1985-90) reunite with Argentine Presidents Néstor Kirchner (2003-07) and Raúl Alfonsín (1983-89) to commemorate 20 years of productive trade talks.
President Fernando de la Rúa inherited diminished competitiveness in exports, massive imports which damaged national industry and mounting social problems, as well as chronic fiscal deficits. The governing coalition developed rifts and was eventually forced to take a series of measures (culminating in the freezing of bank accounts) to halt a wave of capital flight and to stem the imminent debt crisis. A climate of popular discontent ensued and on 20 December 2001 Argentina dove into its worst institutional and economic crisis since the 1890 Barings financial debacle. There were violent street protests, which clashed with police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amid riots accompanied by cries that “they should all go,” finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Rúa.
Three presidents followed in quick succession over two weeks, culminating in the appointment of interim President Eduardo Duhalde by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt and the peso's 11 year-old tie to the US dollar was rescinded, causing a major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation. Duhalde, a Peronist with a center-left economic position, had to cope with a financial and socio-economic crisis, with unemployment as high as 25% by late 2002 and the lowest real wages in sixty years. The crisis accentuated the people's mistrust in politicians and institutions. Following a year racked by protest, the economy began to stabilize by late 2002 and restrictions on bank withdrawals were lifted in December.
Benefiting from a more competitive and flexible exchange rate, government and business planners alike implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports, and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. Governor Néstor Kirchner, a social democratic Peronist, was elected president in May 2003; during Kirchner's presidency, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Kirchner and his economists, notably Roberto Lavagna, also pursued vigorous income policies and public works investments.
Argentina has since been enjoying economic growth; despite his popularity, Néstor Kirchner forfeited the 2007 campaign in favor of his wife, Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Winning in a landslide that October, she became the first woman elected President of Argentina and, in an upset, a center-left (ARI) candidate in Tierra del Fuego Province, Fabiana Ríos, became the first woman in Argentine history elected governor. President Cristina Kirchner, despite carrying large majorities in Congress, saw controversial plans for higher agricultural export taxes defeated by Vice President Julio Cobos' surprise tie-breaking vote against them on 16 July 2008. Following massive agrarian protests and lockouts from March to July, robust economic growth quickly returned, though inflation has also increased without, as yet, being addressed.
just cos things are fucked up doesn't mean it isn't progress...