Monday, April 26, 2010

Argentina, Land of Insanity

I have closed the associated Ñoñario blog (all visitors are blocked) at the request of the author, who no longer wishes an Internet presence. He has concluded that Argentines -- his prime audience -- are so insane that even trying to comment on current events and history on a factual basis is an Augean task not worth the time and effort.

Let Argentina sink to yet new astounding new levels, through the ever inventive self-destructiveness of Argentines. I am not kidding.

This is a country that, around 1910, was still had one of the top ten economies in the world. Today it is probably the 150th or so.

In the 1920s and 30s the Argentine elite fought tooth and nail to keep its feudal and largely agricultural society intact and its economy a net exporter of cheap commodities and a net importer of expensive manufactured goods.

In the late 1940s and 50s, Perón turned needed attention to the nascent industrial union movement, but he misspent the nation's then-vast gold reserves on patronage pet projects.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the country was split between Peronists fighting for the return of their exiled leader and the middle class and oligarchy, ushering in military coup after military coup to prevent the return. Meanwhile, the peso lost value and the economy began to go to hell.

Unsatisfied with chaos, Argentines once again welcomed military rule in 1976. This time, the generals weren't kidding around: they made a proven 9,000 people disappear, kidnapped and tortured thousands of others, led the country to a disastrous war with a NATO member (the UK) and helped raise annual inflation to above 1,000 percent (that's thousand, not a typo).

By 1983, tired of military disasters, Argentines chose civilian ones instead. After the Mexican peso effect collapsed the Argentine economy briefly, a charlatan offered a supposed dollar-parity of the peso.

How was this illusion maintained? By selling off the state-owned airline, merchant marine, telephone company, oil company, etc., until all the family jewels were gone.

In 2001, the spell vanished and peso went from 1=1 peso to dollar to 3 pesos per dollar. One day you had a dollar, the next you had 33 cents. That's what Buenos Aires taxi drivers mean when they mention "the events of 2001" -- not 9/11.

So, having kept the country backward, devalued its currency and destroyed its economy and taken the country to a disastrous war, not to mention egregious human rights violations, what did Argentines elect new leaders to do? Of course, to incur an unpayable foreign debt in the billions!

Every time I've thought, "well, now, they've learned their lesson," they manage to surprise me by sinking to new and unsurpassed depths. They sank below hell decades ago!

Of course, try to tell that to an Argentine ... in Spanish. So now you know why my associate and I are sticking to English. The hell with them!
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