Listen to our online radio show on Argentina’s farming crisis.
For a snapshot of how the U.S. economy affects everyone, have a look at the travels and travails of the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
And for a confounding case of a great country where democracy never quite gets its act together, have a look at Argentina as well.
Kirchner is midway through her four-year term of office, but questions are being raised about whether she can make it to the end of 2011. The problem involves both style and substance.
The president faces considerable criticism for the flailing Argentine economy. She’s been criticized for measures that expanded state control and for provoking anger by imposing trade tariffs on farm goods. Her style of governing is often characterized as arrogant — the same charge often faced by her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who preceded her as president.
This week, Kirchner was attending a meeting of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, where she and other leaders railed at international financial organizations that provoked the world credit crunch and recession. The results have been strange, to say the least. She said:
My government has just provided credit to General Motors so it wouldn’t shut down. If someone had told me that as president I was going to give a loan to an American multinational car manufacturer, which had just been nationalized by an African American president of the United States, it would have sounded insane.
Mi gobierno acaba de dar un crédito a General Motors para que no cierre sus puertas. Si alguien me hubiese dicho que como presidenta iba a dar un préstamo a una multinacional automotriz americana, que acababa de ser estatizada por un presidente afroamericano de los Estados Unidos, me hubiera parecido un delirio.
Argentina holds congressional elections on June 28, moved up from later in the year by the president and her party in hopes of shoring up waning support. It may not be enough. Clarin, Argentina’s leading newspaper, raised the possibility that Kirchner might be forced to resign or hold early presidential elections if the congressional losses are great.
Unfortunately, that would not be a shocking precedent. Argentinians are proud of 25 years of democracy after the departure of a cruel, murderous military dictatorship. But few of the country’s presidents in recent years have surrendered the blue and white presidential sash at the constitutional end of their terms. One of the few is Kirchner’s husband, Nestor, who served from 2003 to 2007. He is now blaming the news media — especially the leading daily, Clarin — charging they were stirring up rumors and trouble about his wife’s tenure in office.
Clarin reported on Kirchner’s criticism of its own reporting, saying the ex-president “accused Clarin of ‘inventing, lying, manipulating information and threatening the social peace and institutional stability of the nation.’ ”
– Peter Eisner