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Argentina's political polarization increases

By Tony Pagliaro

03.03.06 | Néstor Kirchner (who does not speak any foreign languages and does not understand any culture but his own), has probably never heard the good advice given by king “Mufasa” to his cub “Simba” in the superb Broadway play -written by Messrs Roger Allens and Irene Mecchi- “The Lion King,” in which “Mufasa” tells his son that one thing is to be brave and a very different one to look for trouble. In fact, Néstor Kirchner cannot live without “polarizing” everything and everyone, no matter the cost involved.

As recently stated by James Q. Wilson (in, “How divided are we?” published in Commentary, of February 2006) Kirchner belongs to a paranoid “culture” that constantly divides and sets people in his “entourage” and his “followers” apart from all the others. Any rival is not a competitor, but instead someone who is automatically wrong and, worse, is presumably corrupt and wicked.

Kirchner automatically rejects the possibility of compromise and in his “natural extremism” and morbid mind, all political differences -domestic or otherwise- are by definition unbridgeable and should therefore be dealt with through direct confrontation, where incivility prevails.

Unfortunately, after a couple of years of Kirchner’s “leadership”, now “polarization” has seeped down into the general Argentine public, where it has assumed the form of a culture of war, full of hostility. This has, in turn, led towards what Mercedes S. Hinton has correctly described as “a political game dominated by uncivil cultural attitudes, disrespect for norms, feeble or nonexistent checks and balances, and an unbound style of political competition.”

Argentines seem to have reached a stage where “whether the Argentine State will continue to default on the guarantees that allow its democratic existence is a question whose answer lies in the hands of the Argentine people themselves”. For the time being Argentines are passive, observing how their republican institutions are -step by step- being dismantled by the aggregate work of the Kirchners, husband and wife.

Despite the fact that the militant mobs that respond to the Kirchners, i.e. the “piqueteros”, have taken more than 1.000 businesses, as well as two police precincts in a twelve months period, the police is under a presidential order to follow a strict “no repression” policy (See: Mercedes S. Hinton; “The State on the Streets”, Lynne Rienner, 2006). Under said really unusual “presidential order” Argentina has become a kind of lawless country and various protest movements have (in a “hobbesian” fashion) grown bolder and violent. And now they even dare –undisturbed by the authorities- to cut all traffic, commercial or otherwise, with a friendly neighboring country: Uruguay.

Amazing situation and a very difficult one to deal with. A very unusual status that may deserve inclusion in the “Guiness Book of Records”. But which, once again, is an extremely dangerous one.

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