Protesters in Argentina’s capital have blocked roads and protested since September 1 as they conducted a “federal march” and protest against economic policies put in place by the first non-Peronist President in 80-years: Mauricio Macri.
Argentina’s unions paid for the transportation for hundreds of protesters into the capital’s streets and plaza’s to voice their “anger” at Macri’s government. If the unions hadn’t made transportation and meals available, very few would have shown in front of Argentina’s Executive Mansion — The Pink House.
“If they don’t listen to our noise, if they don’t provide solutions, there will be a social battle,” said Pablo Micheli, executive of the Argentine Workers’ Union.
“If they fail, there will be a national strike.”
Micheli may want to hurry up. As more time goes by, Macri’s economic policies are gaining traction, and more Argentines recognize the former president, Cristina Kirchner, as corruption in a skirt and heels.
Jerry Nelson is an American freelance writer and photojournalist and is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the million-or-so who follow him on Twitter @ Journey_America.
Denial is on the Rise in Argentina
Thousands of “state workers” have been terminated since Macri rose to leadership in December on a promise to cut wasteful spending. The new administration is also working to stop financial falsifications which produced years of skyrocketing consumer costs.
Unions and human rights organizations believe workers are indiscriminately discharged while Argentines lose buying potential to the world’s biggest inflation rates. Authorities say the associations are wrong. It hasn’t been authorized workers being ousted; “niokis” have.
Niokis is a traditional Argentine meal, served on the 29th of each month. Like their namesake, “niokis” just appeared at the workplace once-a-month — to receive a check and do nothing else. Niokis are the personification of the political patronage which ran unchecked beneath Kirchner. Observers concluded as many of 25,000 government workers were handed a monthly check — and no tasks to do.
Inflation is staying stubbornly high. Statisticians measure consumer prices as soaring at 47-percent a year.
If Brazil, Argentina’s top trading partner, heads deeper into its worst recession in decades, labor unrest could worsen. Argentine exports to Brazil fell over 50-percent; the forecast for 2016 is similar.
Argentina’s true inflation rate has been murky since 2007 when former President Nestor Kirchner’s political appointees changed the statistical methodology.
Macri’s administration overhauled the controversial national figures to promote investment and recapture squandered trustworthiness in the global market.
“This is a crucial time to reacquire confidence in the economy,” said Jorge Triaca, the employment minister. “The process is a transformation, and we hope it passes as swiftly as practicable.”
Eighty years of depravity have generated a culture of corruption within the government that is not easily explained to foreigners.
The example which can best explain what Peronism is to Argentina is to look at what Tammany Hall was to New York City.
Tammany Hall was a force, through political patronage, in New York City from the late 18th century until the 1960s.
The title was compatible with fraud. The group’s notoriety and longevity emerged from its eagerness to accommodate the city’s poor — for a price.
Tammany Hall did provide rudimentary housing, limited health care and low-level jobs for its supporters. However, when Tammany Hall asked its patrons to vote in a city referendum, the recipients of the Hall’s open-handedness had to react properly.
If a household didn’t vote the way the Hall wanted, thugs would arrive after dark and destroy the family’s possessions, often set fire to their home and worse.
It was always expected that the thousands getting Tammany Hall aid would confer their appreciation at the ballot box.
“Reform-minded” administrations occasionally took the strength from the Hall, but it always began a revival.
Then, anti-Tammany administrator Fiorello La Guardia, with Franklin Roosevelt’s help, was equipped to minimize the machine’s power forever. It maintained some energy until John Lindsay became mayor in 1966.
Now that the reader owns a good idea of the corruption behind political patronage, let’s look at what may be the ultimate example: Peronism.
Peronism was birthed on October 17, 1945. The strange mixture of capital cronyism and government fraud, with a touch of socialism thrown in, is built on the social and financial inclusion of the poor.
But like Tammany Hall, “inclusion” comes with a price.
As an ideology, Peronism is hard to define. Juan Peron introduced comprehensive social security, completely subsidized education, fully subsidized health care, compulsory paid sabbaticals, subsidized low-income homes and other subsidized arrangements intended to improve the experiences of the nation’s poor.
Note the repeated application of the word “subsidized” and not poor. The importance of this will be shown.
Peron’s political success came from knowing the working class and the poor. Peron fumbled and mishandled the idea as it ripened. Instead of raising the poor by nourishing their worth, he laid the framework for a society established on a lie — the nobility of poverty.
Globally, successful state actions to help the poor are created to elevate persons out of scarcity in a manner that can be sustained. Alternatively Peronism — and its latest incarnation, Kirchnerism — accuse the wealthy for the problems of those in need as it provides costly and unsustainable gifts based on political patronage.
Peronism buried itself like a parasite into the souls and spirits of the population and became the foundation of the federal system.
Besides gaining the votes of people reliant on the state for sustenance, Argentina’s leaders face the feudal order of Buenos Aires Province. The region is the habitat for 16 million people and is split into over 130 districts — each ruled by a faithful Peronist and feudal “lord mayor.”
The Crisis We’re In
Until Cristina Kirchner was handed her walking papers, the obvious consequences of Argentina’s financial mismanagement are the inevitable and costly projects the nation’s leaders had to maintain.
Peronism now has morphed into a class conflict pitting the indigent against the wealthy — and doesn’t explain why. Cristina Kirchner, despite being out of office for nine months, is still viewed by her under-educated fans as a Robin Hood-type character.
She snatched resources from the grasping hands of national fat cats and redistributed it into the palms of the hungry. Robin Hood never took a big slice for himself, though. There is ample evidence Kirchner seized billions for herself and her band of merry men as the money channeled from the rich to the poor.
And The Country Runs Out of Money
What results when the wealthy go away or go broke? Under Kirchner and Peronism, the government pulled resources from:
- Excessive taxes on earnings and buying
- Excessive charges on imports and exports
- Printing currency
It comes down to the fundamental idea of paying more than you make even while ignoring long-term solutions for short term goals.
Companies ran from Argentina between 2010 and 2015 because of ridiculously large taxes, the failure to repatriate profits and the failure to get needed items imported.
Ag-exporters accumulated their produce rather than hand over large amounts to the state; international investors squatted in the bleachers expecting something to develop.
Kirchner’s response was to print pesos which fanned inflation and held off the unavoidable when the cash dried up, and the disaster hit full throttle.
The crisis of Kirchner didn’t disturb the wealthy — or even the despised international businesses. The crisis is presented on the back of the poor. The indigent are already feeling the financial noose around their necks as expenses are growing quicker than earnings and less jobs are available as the subsidies are withdrawn for the sake of greater economic management mechanisms.
A Snob for My Country
A current report critical of the non-government organization (NGO) Un Techo Para Mi Pais (a roof for my country) was creatively-titled Un Cheto Para Mi Pais (a snob for my country). The writer smeared the middle-class missionaries for constructing emergency houses and labeling them homes.
The exercise was meant to appease upper-class guilt and built a positive business/government image.
Particularly well-written, the article demonstrates one of the fatal flaws in Peronism/Kirchnerism. It vilifies companies earning money — and anybody with cash. Peronism doesn’t think about an inescapable fact: it takes money to fund charitable programs.
Constitutionalism in Latin America looks unusual when compared to democracies in North America or Europe. Latin American nations watch for a caudillo, a powerful guide to be turned to for every want.
The dilemma? When this caudillo converts into a latter-day Don Quixote, who tilts at the windmills of corporate avarice and an out-of-date notion of the bourgeoisie.
The challenge in Argentina today is if Macri can introduce some financial reasoning into spending on charitable programs without forfeiting the help of the governed.
Democracy in Argentina may never permanently take down Peronism, but Peronism will undermine Argentine democracy.
Luis M. Gonzalez, an international trade consultant for Argentina, Brazil and China writes on Quora:
“This particular Argentine is not only ashamed (of Peronism) but furious and disappointed with that half of Argentines that still suffer the brain rot caused by Peron and his fascist regime.”
“Peronism is the cancer of Argentina.”