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First signals of Kirchner's hard turn to the left

By Tony Pagliaro

30.11.05 | After abruptly firing his Minister of Economy, Roberto Lavagna, the architect of Argentina’s come back from chaos, President Kirchner has begun turning to the left. Yesterday he announced that -to control inflation- he will dispatch his “picketing” gangs to harass and intimidate any private venture that dares to increase prices. This unorthodox economic tool fits well with the presidential intimidating style. This “price control” mechanism is to be organized through Kirchner’s allies in various municipalities around Buenos Aires and other big cities.

In addition Kirchner has stressed that, from now on, he will work in the direction of creating “a new social structure for Argentina”. The tool for this forthcoming “social earthquake” to be “redistribution”. The criteria for such “new” experiment are, as expected, to be set by the President himself. The combination of authoritarianism and populism is now present almost everywhere.

Today’s newspapers also carry the news that General Roberto Bendini, the Argentine Army Chief of Staff signed, last October, various cooperation agreements with its Venezuelan counterpart. For the first time Argentina will send next year an officer to the Venezuelan War School.

In the meantime, for six running days Argentines have been unable to fly. A wild strike by Aerolíneas Argentinas has stopped virtually all domestic flights and stranded 52.000 passengers that are unable to return home.

As summer approaches, this will hurt Argentina’s tourism sector fostered by Argentina’s grossly undervalued currency. Tourists from all over the world have been visiting the country taking advantage of its extremely cheap hotel, transportation and food prices. The ongoing strike is already causing thousand of cancellations since tourists do not want to risk being caught in a nightmare like the one those who are now in Argentina whose saga cannot be hidden. Argentina’s hotels are fully booked and many visitors are unable to return home. In addition, the Airports are constantly being picketed by unfriendly mobs. To reach Ezeiza, Buenos Aires international airport, passengers are forced -by said mobs- to walk several kilometers trough them. They obviously do not depart with a nice feeling. The Stock Exchange has plummeted and lost 7% in two days. Bonds are falling. The carefully manicured dollar rate of exchange is, nevertheless, slightly up. Many foreign investors have left Argentina, other like Shell or Suez are under attack, and very few are, under the circumstances, considering new ventures in Argentina.

After the Summit disaster, the US is with replacing its Ambassador in Buenos Aires and moving the US Treasury office from Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Treasury representative, Mr. Mathew Haarsager, will thus have a new domicile.

In the meantime, lawlessness is increasing, across the board. For example, two Argentine primary schools have been “taken” (i.e. occupied) by its students (with parental support) who simply do not want to be graded through examinations. Such a procedure, they claim, is a burdensome one. They will probably get away with their request. Like many other. This is Kirchner’s paradise. Up to now, nobody dares to say “no” to whatever he decides to do. Not even Lavagna.



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