Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Four More Years for Kirchner

article from October 24, 2011
By Jamie Douglas

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, by no surprise, is the winner of Sunday’s Argentinean presidential elections. With over 95% of the votes counted, she garnered a landslide 55% of the vote, giving her four more years to ru(i)n the country. As is customary, the sitting officeholder had the purse strings of the nation to disburse money for flat screen TVs for the elderly and tons of meat for the rest of the population.

Her popularity is so overwhelming that the opposition candidate did not really run. She is expected to try that old trick of having the constitution changed to allow her to run a few more times – after all, she is a relatively young 58 years old. I just hope that she will step down before the grim reaper harvests her in office so she can enjoy the hundreds of millions of dollars she and her deceased husband Néstor “rightfully” earned by their “hard labor.”

At the same time, Cristina’s supports voted for her party to gain control of both houses, making the changing of the constitution unlikely to be contested. Her popularity has been boosted by the booming economy, coupled with the denial of inflation, which currently hovers between 25% and 29%, this according to private consultants who use accurate econometrics, such as the actual prices of a basket of consumer goods, energy costs and other monthly expenses for a family of four. The governments figures are less than half that, but this is Argentina. Don’t cry for Argentina; it is merely business as usual.

Now, with La Presidenta firmly established, being her own woman, not just Néstor’s placeholder in the Casa Rosada, we can expect to see closer ties between Argentina and Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff has been widely viewed as being the placeholder for Lula da Silva, the wildly popular former president of Brazil. Lula, as he is affectionately known to his fellow Brazilians, recently announced to his compatriots that Dilma was his choice to run for a second term, and that he would stand down.

He would be 72 years old by the time Mrs. Rousseff’s second term expires, and being a sensible man, he will probably enjoy his role as elder statesman more than he would enjoy being president until he is 80, battling a corrupt cabinet, like Mrs. Rousseff is having to do right now.

This closer relationship between the two giants of Mercosur, of course, may lead to the marginalization of the two minor players, Uruguay and Paraguay, both of which have been used and abused by their giant neighbors for a while now. In addition, there is also the unknown of Venezuela’s pending membership, which is only awaiting Paraguayan ratification.

Both Brazil and Argentina currently are heavily dependent on China as their most important trading partners. China however is only buying natural resources, from minerals to agricultural goods, and hardly any manufactured goods are being exported to them. At the same time, Argentina’s protectionism of their native industries has severely limited imports, including inexpensive Chinese products, by enforcing punitive duties. This topic is sure to come up in future trade negotiations with the Chinese.

Jamie Douglas
San Rafael, Mendoza
Where we have to live without cheap Chinese imports!

[Image of Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner via Wikipedia]

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