Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Real April Fool: Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

article from April 1, 2012
By Jamie Douglas

Many have attempted the colossal feat of making the Southern Cone nation the laughing stock of the world, and finally, the widow of the former president, being La Presidenta in her own right, has succeeded!

The buildup has been anticipated and therefore comes as no surprise. Since her reelection last October, it has been a steady drumbeat to fascism coming from the Casa Rosada, with new financial regulations, import restrictions and less personal freedom to do with your money as you want. Add to that the constant treaty violations with Mercosur’s junior members, Uruguay and Paraguay, her flaky excuse to not attend the Mercosur meeting in Asuncion (had a headache and could not fly) and now, the demands made on Mexico, also breaking an important trade treaty there, whereby Argentina exported  about a million automobiles to Mexico and vice versa. But now it just does not suit Argentina anymore. They still want to export to Mexico but don’t want to allow Mexican cars to enter Argentina anymore.

For a long time now, there have been severe import restrictions on any merchandise entering Argentina. There are huge stockpiles of books and publications sitting in warehouses at border crossings between Uruguay and Argentina. Last week, the government of Argentina issued a formal statement that was heartily laughed at around the world: The printing ink has lead in it, and the public could be injured when they lick their fingers to turn the pages. The most embarrassing part of that folly is that both ink and paper are shipped over to Uruguay from Argentina in the first place!

Argentinean customs is also holding up many life-saving medications, as well as car parts, food items and just about anything you can think off. Even items from the Mercosur trade zone are being held back. The one thing that apparently sneaks its way past those eagle-eyed inspectors is makeup; tons of it, from the looks of it, all required in the name of national security, so that La Cristina can maintain that “condor” look.

And in keeping the populace baffled with all her bullshit, her government has spent 1.25 billion pesos on promoting itself in 2010, 25 times as much as was spent under the administration of her husband, Néstor Kirchner. Since she took control, however, she has used the very large funds to declare war on her enemies by diverting government pesos into massive advertising campaigns. Argentina has a national decree that stipulates that the money be spent in a balanced way, but La Cristina has gone out of her way to ignore that.

Just like the blatant vote-buying that was happening leading up to the last presidential election, where she promised everybody a chicken or some pork and flat-screen TVs for the jubilados (retirees).The federal government’s share of advertising in the nation comes to over 9% of all advertising in the country, about the same as the second-  and third-largest advertisers in the country – Unilever and Proctor and Gamble – combined. To put it in perspective, that is 6.5 times as much as Canada spends! But then again, Canada does not have that much to lie about to its citizens, probably precisely 6.5 times less.

Some of the latest effluent to emerge lately is a new decree that Argentineans traveling abroad are not able to use their debit cards, as of today, to buy things or withdraw funds from their bank accounts at home, unless they are US dollar accounts. All of these rules and regulations are regurgitated on a daily base from the government’s Official Bulletin. Those of you fluent in Spanish are forewarned!

Being as this is akin to the period when Argentina’s General Galtieri started the unfortunate war against the UK over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, I do have a serious question for my Argentinean brothers and sisters. Since when does a nation celebrate getting their asses kicked as severely, as they did 30 years ago? We were in Mendoza a month ago for the Vendimia Wine Harvest Festival, and a sad-looking bunch of Malvinas veterans hobbled by in the parade. I had to control myself from committing suicide by lynching by shouting out: “THEY LIED TO YOU!”

I have no recollection of the USA ever celebrating the end of their misfortunate incursion into Vietnam. Yippee, it’s April 30! Let’s celebrate our humiliating defeat at the hands of a peasant army that kicked our asses, B-52s and all.

Now for the hate mail, I thank you in advance.

Jamie Douglas
Going Totally Insane in San Rafael, Mendoza

[Image of President Kirchner with children, Maximo and Florencia Kirchner at second inauguration via Wikipedia]

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.