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Nestor Kirchner pushes Argentina into isolation

By Tony Pagliaro

05.12.05 | The always boring Jacques Chirac is now pompously touring Latin America. By doing so he seems to be trying to avoid some well-known domestic difficulties and promoting French trade and investment overseas. But, notwithstanding the old ties and bonds between Argentina and France, President Chirac has decided not to visit -this time- Buenos Aires. Foreign Affairs sources explained that he cannot take Kirchner’s insults (and lack of manners and respect) any more. In addition, President Kirchner is effectively banning the entry of new large French foreign investment projects into Argentina. Chirac may well be right. Visiting Argentina today is like an excursion to the past.

In Argentina, only Kirchner’s word is the law. He acts like a prophet. In fact, only those who are and stay close to him are successful in Argentina.

His extremely rude personal “style” is completely at odds with all forms of government that currently exist, particularly with Western style democracies. Like a strange southern Lukashenko, Kirchner now controls both Argentina’s Congress and the Judiciary. In this very strange environment, Argentina’s Supreme Court -clearly controlled by Kirchner’s recent appointments- has already amazingly stated that terrorism is not a “crime against humanity” and, thus, refused to extradite a couple of well known terrorists from “ETA” and from the Chilean most active terrorist group. Both had been formally requested by the governments of Spain and Chile. Argentina has become a new “heaven” for terrorists on the run.

Should however terrorism, at some point, be considered as a “crime against humanity”, several of Kirchner’s most close collaborators will probably have to go to jail in connection with their past crimes against innocent civilians. Those that took place during the 70’s which were never -ever- examined by a Court of Justice. They have enjoyed complete impunity and would not like to lose it.

Authoritarian Kirchner seems to be happy only when surrounded by people like him: i.e. bullies. It is their language that he understands and enjoys. This is why he admires fellow leaders: Hugo Chávez or Fidel Castro, who tend to behave like him.

He definitely dislikes -and cannot stand- European leaders like President Chirac; nor North-Americans ones, like President Bush or President Fox. First, because neither him nor his wife -the proud and powerful “Doña Cristina”- are very gifted. They cannot speak -nor read- any foreign language, at all. Second, because the presidential couple deeply and profoundly dislikes Occident’s views and principles. They seem to be at ease only when at home, in the southern tip of Argentina. There, completely isolated, Kirchner does not even stick out his neck. He lives in a real big house located in a grey city: Río Gallegos, where Mr. Kirchner enjoys having meat and wine for lunch with old friends who never stop admiring him.

But, in the meantime, Kirchner is extremely active “transforming” Argentina’s public administration. He is filling every single position in the Federal Administration with leftists who will make sure that the private sector does not grow while Kirchner pushes forward with some very visible new Public Agencies, like in the energy sector. He believes that they, and not the market or the private sector, will be the “key” for Argentina to continue growing.

Mrs. Elisa Carrió, from ARI, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, points out that it is precisely through said new public agencies that corruption is flourishing in Argentina, like never before. In a recent report delivered last november 24 she points her finger to Mr. Julio De Vido (Kirchner’s present Minister of Planning) and his son Facundo, an astute young “businessman” as to cases of extreme corruption. The last issue of “El Observador” (December 4, 2005) suggests that former Minister of Economy Roberto Lavagna’s forced resignation is directly connected with the rampant corruption that covers most of Argentina’s public works where a group of construction companies -related to both Messrs. Kirchner and De Vido- obtains substantially all contracts.

Nobody “does business” behind the President’s back, or without his friends and contacts. A completely new breed of “businessmen” is popping-up everywhere. Those who Kirchner allows to undertake new ventures are very active. Only them. Nobody else. This picture of the new Argentina is a sad one.

This may well be the reason why Chirac is not interested in “picking” any more fights with the volcanic, extreme, and sectarian Mr. Kirchner, and simply stays away from him. Some believe that even Mr. Bush may have already decided to behave in a similar fashion. The problem for Argentina is that Chirac and Bush are not the only leaders that share such a negative view on Kirchner. Argentina may well be confronting isolation. Kirchner’s behavior is tantamount to economic and social suicide.

In fact, after more than two years of Kirchner’s management, living conditions for the Argentine poor are still desperately harsh; but some believe that this is precisely what Kirchner wants while he continues to exacerbate social tensions and feed resentment on an across the board basis. The resulting environment -full of fear and intimidation- is where he seems to excel.



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