04 July 2008

Congress making history — for good or bad

Another round in the government-vs.-farmers fight: last night the relevant committee in the lower house of Congress wrapped up a package of two different proposals to be debated by the whole Chamber of Deputies. One of them is a joint proposal of the opposition, which, after miraculously reaching an agreement, narrowed it down to "Let's suspend the President's bill for a while and see what we can do." This one was the most predictable, of course. It's in the minority, but it's quite a large minority.

There's a proposal championed by dissident Peronist, and former Buenos Aires Province governor, Felipe Solá, plus some other like him and many of the so-called Radicales K, i.e. former members of the Radical Civic Union. It's a compromise solution that maintains the mobile tax exports but decreases the amounts. If I got it correctly, this proposal doesn't count — the committee will only issue two, one for the minority and one for the majority.

The majority proposal is that of the Kirchnerists. What it basically says is "OK, we'll give you greedy farmers more subsidies, and if you ask for it using complicated forms we'll give you back some of the money we'll be unlawfully extracting from you in the first place." And then it explicitly says: "The President still has the right to do as she pleases with export taxes, no matter what the Constitution says, so all of the above is a joke."

The Kirchnerists say they have the votes it takes to pass the law — there's still some room for doubt, but wills can be bought, and they will. Needless to say, as soon as the law is passed the farmers will go back to the roads.

In the meantime, seeing how his own party turned to internal discussion (some legislators were actually thinking for themselves!), Néstor Kirchner has escalated his denunciations and threats. I won't be quoting him anymore, since it's sickening and pointless. The guy is clearly paranoid and very dangerous; in any normal country his own party would be shunning him (if only for political convenience), but Argentina being what it is, we'll have to wait until next year's elections to get rid of his influence.

This is all coming undone fast. Vice-president Julio Cobos hasn't spoken to Cristina in two weeks, since he started showing the common sense that seems to genetically absent in the Kirchners, and now even the ministers and senators tell him to shut up, which he says he won't. Cristina Kirchner seems unable to stop doing inflammatory speeches, but she can no longer get out of the safety zone. Kirchnerist shock troop commander Luis D'Elía went a bit far on his violent rants and was told to shut up and go abroad to preach his hypocritical "Revenge of the Poor" sermon, but the rest of the Kirchnerist mob is mobilized and waiting. Hebe de Bonafini was accused for inciting the take of official broadcasting media and asking for the farmers to be removed "with tear gas and sticks". Some politicians we saw as sensible, more-or-less honest representatives of the people have shown themselves as idiots and cowards at the very least, or simply as well-paid handmaids of the Kirchners.

It's painful process we're going through these days. The country is divided, and some of the worst elements in our society are working hard to widen the rifts. We've always had inept politicians, corrupt governments, economic uncertainty, but it's been long time since we had such violent popular leaders, such senseless verbal rage being poured on us without restraint. I'm optimistic, only in the sense I think it will all work out in the end. But how much time can we afford to lose?

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