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Populism continues apace in Kirchner's Argentina

By Tony Pagliaro

09.03.06 | The Kirchners couple is known to be both populist and authoritarian. Today the Kirchners have enacted a controversial decree through which they have decided to “suspend”, initially for a 180 days period, substantially all Argentina’s meet exports, except those to Venezuela.

Thus the country whose meat is considered to be “the best in the world” suddenly cannot export meat, because the Kirchners have so decided. The “rationale” for such an incredible decision is that all cuts of meat –first and foremost- have to be cheap in Argentina for domestic consumption. Only if this is secured and guaranteed, then -second- meat exports will be allowed, a semester from now, eventually. In other words, without the best cuts of meat being available to all Argentines at low prices in their domestic scenario, as the President has amazingly said, Argentines “go hungry”.

Néstor Kirchner does not care about exports commitments which may have been entered into by Argentina’s exporters, or about long or medium term contracts which may be in effect; nor about preserving foreign markets which today have to be constantly seduced since other countries do compete with Argentina (by the way, neither Brasil -the largest exporter of meat- nor Uruguay - another high quality South American exporter of meat- have even dreamed or considered doing something similar to what the Kirchners have now decided by fiat in Argentina); nor about monies spent in trying to promote meat exports; nor about employment in the meatpacking industry; or about prospective investors in the sector; nor about the business cycle of the rural producers, who will have to pay taxes and wages without sales they could have expected: “meat prices”, Néstor Kirchner claims, “must fall”. No matter what, because the votes they try to lure are in the urban and industrial areas. And those votes have to be pleased, at any cost.

The market is of no concern. The Kirchners will determine, at will, which is the proper level of all meat prices. Once again, “they know better”. Once again, they do not listen. In fact they behave as if the had all the answers. And they intimidate anyone who may have a different view. “A la Chávez”, of course. A classic “bully” behavior by the Kirchners, once again.

Poor Argentina, with these “policies” it will continue to unavoidably fall behind the rest of the world. And the reason for its decadence is now clear: the Kirchners have so decided. In this particular case, f you want to know who is really responsible for this nonsense: “cherchez la femme”. She is behind the unusual “ukase”.

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