15 July 2008

Rallies in Buenos Aires

Today the Senate is going to start discussing the export tax bill, which, as you will remember, were approved by the Chamber of Deputies by a difference of only seven votes. Although the Peronist majority in the Senate is even greater than in the lower house, senators are much more committed to their local constituencies. A significant number of Peronist senators are voting no to the government-sponsored bill. Only one or two votes decided at the last minute might make all the difference, and it's entirely possible that there's a tie — in which case the president of the Senate, Vice-president Julio Cobos, will have to break it.

Both Kirchners (the formal president, Cristina, and the de facto one, Néstor) and their high-profile ministers have been wooing the senators, pressuring them, threatening them, to get votes. The end result we'll only see later today, or tomorrow.

The farmers' organizations and the national government are organizing parallel rallies for today in Buenos Aires. The farmers want to (but probably won't) repeat the numeric performance of the May 25 meeting in Rosario, and the government wants to do better than the farmers. Néstor Kirchner has the mob-like truck drivers' union on his side, plus the Peronist Youth and a few other useful idiot clubs, to provide him with a lot of screaming fans, and the farmers have received the support of a true Prince of Sleaze, the leader of the Gastronómicos (the bar and restaurant workers' union).

It's all pretty stupid if you ask me. And divisive, and dangerous. The rallies are basically a bragging competition and won't serve any purpose. Néstor Kirchner is simply unable to stay quiet and hope for the best, and his hateful insolence is contagious. And the farmers must know that this is it, that they're not going to change anybody's mind now, because this has long ago ceased to be about taxes. It's all about ideology and people's conceptions of what government must handle power.

I believe that Kirchnerism is fascism, just as old-time Peronism was — corporatist, demagogical, perversely fusing patriotism with partisan loyalty, corrupt to its very dark core by its own nature. It must be brought down, by legitimate means, because it's wrecking the economy and destroying our dignity.

I don't believe for one second that this is the worst government we might have had at this time. Neither do I believe that the wealthy farmers would choose a better government (better for us) if they had the opportunity.

But the thing I believe the least is that we must somehow choose either populism or oligarchy, and violently reject the possibility of alternatives, the possibility of dialogue and compromise. I'd rather have no rival rallies hurling abuse at each other, no passionate masses in the public squares, no more demonstrations. Not for a while, at least. We'll have to do a lot of cleaning up, as a people, after this.


  1. Since I wasn’t Argentinean, I was never too interested in politics when I lived there, but I guess it is always a good idea not to be completely detached from the political realities of the place when one lives. I have plans to go back, but I still don’t know when that will be. I hope the situation is better then.

    BTW, I notice that you have traveled some around the country. Were do you think the best weather is in Argentina?

  2. Lucio - If you actually intend to come back to Argentina and live here as a resident and earn a living in local currency, I'd strongly suggest you wait. This will get worse before it gets better.

    I haven't traveled around that much, but Mendoza was the best place to be in the summer - hot but not unbearably so. I've never been there in winter, but it can't be much worse than Rosario, and surely it must be much less humid.

    The area of San Martín de los Andes is also beautiful in the summer, of course, but I'm told it's terrible in winter - very cold and very few short hours of sunlight.

  3. Anonymous00:37

    What I don’t like about making comments in blogs is that one can’t edit anything after submission. I write and read fast, and then I want to kick myself over the head when I discover I made spelling mistakes, like I did above.

    Pablo, I miss some of my friends and relatives (weird, eh?), but I’m close to retirement and I’m not planning on working there. As I remember, the weather wasn’t that bad, but still somewhat colder than LA. I don’t like cold weather.

    Thank you for your answer.

    Take care.

  4. Anonymous02:19

    Interesting developments.
    Its such an unusual situation based on the fact that the government claimed it was for social programs, totally against fascism, but tend to be untruthful and is a type of oligarchy that has little interest for the betterment of society.

    I still believe, accurately or not as a Canadian living part time in Argentina, that the farmers were more wrong, while nobody was right. Its all about believing in your elected governments, understanding the entire population base and not simply the one that you may be part of.

    Either way, it does look like it may get worse before it gets better. With the government getting through this, it looks like they will last out the term and who knows if Nestor wins again next time.

    Anyone who says it is impossible, I give you George Bush as exhibit number 1!

    Nestor did restore the economy before destroying it! And its funny(and bad) to think that nearly every government destroys the economy at some point in Argentina...


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