Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is Argentina Really Schizophrenic or Are They a Nation of Great Actors?

article from February 18, 2012
By Jamie Douglas

The answer is neither. They are just a nation in incredible denial of everything from the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner being so untruthful about the nation’s inflationary figures to the incredible energy shortage facing the nation.

Every day, up and down this nation, you can see thousands of trucks and automobiles waiting at the few gas stations scattered around the country, sitting there sometimes for a mere few hours, or as was the case earlier this week, two to three days, with the consequence of lost productivity in untold tons of cargo not being moved from farm to market, and this at the peak of harvest time.

The Argentine Confederation of Transport Workers on Wednesday, Feb 15, ratified a chicane against British ships. They will randomly block any vessel flying any type of British ensign from being allowed to dock in Argentina, as well as slowing down the docking and departure procedures to six hours each on those vessels that are allowed. The head of the maritime workers union, Omar Suárez, stated that this will be selectively carried out without notice and that it could spread all over Latin America.

Apparently, word did not get to Mr. Suárez in time to avoid the embarrassing revelation that currently, the British Rugby, belonging to BP and flying the flag of the Isle of Man, is berthed in Puerto Ingeniero White, where the lovely 84,000 ton LNGC carrier, the third of five awarded to British Petroleum last December, is unloading its cargo.

The main problem for continued delivery is not the empty barking of a neutered dog – in this instance, a trade union that has lost all its power with the Peronista justicialista administration – but rather, that energy-hungry Argentina must pay for all of its purchases on the spot market with US cash dollars, something that is not exactly in abundance in this bankrupt and self-delusional nation. It would be amusing if it were not such a Greek tragedy playing itself out in the Southern Cone.

So the average Argentinean spends a good portion of their vacation waiting for the YPF tanker trucks to come into the gas station to unload their cargoes of precious refined fluids, only to get to the head of the line and find that they are out again. The consumers are wise to the fact that they need to get their fuel when they can. They buy several drums worth and any other containers they can fill.

Meanwhile Argentina’s Energy Institute, known by its Spanish initials as IAE, has issued a strong warning that the country faces an “unprecedented energy crisis” after squandering its existing resources by exporting huge amounts to Chile for several years to earn foreign exchange reserves, thereby selling to Peter what they stole from Paul and owed to Néstor. A better-worded statement released by the IAE, which is made up of former energy ministers of the nation (go figure; they suddenly got to be the “wise elders”), put it this way: “…the current energy situation in Argentina is no surprise: it was expected since there are not now, nor have there been for a long time, comprehensive long term policies for the industry. In fact there has been a total lack of an adequate implementation of serious policies.”

Under Néstor Kirchner’s administration, and continuing under the puppetry of his stand-in, his now-widowed wife, Cristina, the country’s reserves of crude dropped 6% while the formerly overabundant natural gas reserves fell by 41% as the nation’s artificial affluence has put hundreds of thousands of new vehicles on the road – all on easy credit, of course. Meanwhile, the actual production of refined products fell by almost one-fifth, which has led to the current shortages affecting agricultural production.

Cristina’s answer is to renationalize the oil companies. Good luck with that, Argentina. We already experienced what happened when Aerolineas Argentinas was re-nationalized: forty pilots per aircraft and a payroll of over 10,000 people.

Good luck Argentina, particularly those of you in line trying to buy fuel.

Jamie Douglas
Sitting Pretty in San Rafael, Mendoza

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.