• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

Support Our Annual Fund Drive!fund-drive-progress-thermometer

We only shake our readers down two times a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Argentina Squares Off with International Financiers

President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina is locked in a standoff with the International Monetary Fund on the third anniversary of a popular uprising. Just before Christmas, 2001 protesters surged through the streets of Buenos Aires demanding that the entire political class and its international financial backers be tossed out. The IMF along with private banks like the Bank of Boston and Citibank were denounced for their role in the country’s economic crisis. In less than two weeks the country had five presidents.

Argentina became a caldron of social ferment. In neighborhoods and municipalities, ‘popular assemblies’ emerged to debate issues and to protect local interests. Some assemblies have urged people not to pay their property taxes and instead to turn the revenue over to neighborhood hospitals.

The assemblies also discuss international issues. According to assembly organizer, Lidia Pertieria: ‘One of the rallying cries coming from our communities is “no more foreign loans”. New loans only mean more swindling and robbery by our government officials.’

The piquetereos, or picketers, are the most persistent and intransigent of the protesters. Comprised of the underclass that is suffering the brunt of the country’s unemployment rate that has officially reached as high as 20 per cent, they pour into the streets, blocking traffic, demanding jobs, government help for their families, and land to grow their own food.

Kirchner became president in May, 2003. At his inauguration he strongly criticized the neo-liberal economic policies of his predecessors, blaming their slavish adherence to the IMF’s rigid structural adjustment policies for the country’s dire economic conditions. He also demanded that privatization contracts for public utilities imposed on the country be renegotiated, and declared it is the responsibility of the state to ‘introduce equality where the market excludes and abandons’.

Kirchner and the IMF have fought fiercely over the terms of new loans and the repayment of the country’s international debt. In an agreement with the IMF last year, he insisted that no more than three per cent of the budget would be used to pay down the debt. The poor and unemployed had to be a priority ­ as well as public investment. The IMF reluctantly agreed to these terms. Since then the Argentine economy has bounced back and is on track to post an 8 per cent growth rate in 2004. Now the Fund wants to increase the country’s debt repayments, citing increased growth as a reason to siphon more money from the economy.

More critically, the IMF is trying to get a better deal for the private lenders. In 2002 Argentina defaulted on nearly half of its $180 billion international debt. And then after signing the 2003 IMF agreement, the finance minister slashed the nominal value of defaulted bonds by 75 per cent ­ claiming that most were held by speculative capital that flooded the country during the halcyon days of the 1990s. Bondholders in the US, Europe and Japan rejected the offer and are pushing the IMF to force Argentina to pay up.

Continued IMF threats have prompted policy analysts and some bureaucrats to support a complete break with the IMF ­ exploring the possibilities of life outside of the ‘neo-liberal’ world. ‘There is more money, but not to pay off the debt,’ Kirchner has stated.

This week the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrated more flexibility than the IMF by extending a $200 million loan to Argentina for investment in agricultural projects. Hoping to exploit differences among international lenders, the government appears set to end its negotiations with the IMF for new credits. It will make payments on its old IMF debt but will chart an independent course over future debt payments and new economic policies.

Kirchner declares: ‘We are not going to repeat the history of the past… We don’t want new agreements that will frustrate us and the world. For many years we were on our knees before financial organizations and the speculative funds… We’ve had enough!’

ROGER BURBACH is director of the Center for the study of the Americans (CENSA) based in Berkeley, California. He is co- author with Jim Tarbell of “Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire,” He released late last year “The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice.

 

 

More articles by:

ROGER BURBACH is the director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Pinochet Affair.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
David Swanson
Trump’s Opponents Have Him Beat . . . When It Comes to Incompetence
Ben Debney
Liberals, Class and the Joker Complex
Brian Wakamo
Paying College Athletes: California Takes on the NCAA
Theo Wuest
Don’t Leave Equality to the Supreme Court
Jesse Jackson
To His Wealthy Donors, Trump is the Grifter
Mairead Maguire
Pathways to Peace
George Wuerthner
Logging Wild and Scenic River Corridors in the Name of Reducing Wildfires is a Really Bad Idea
Tracey L. Rogers
We Can’t Hug Away Injustice
Mike Garrity
How the Alliance for the Wild Rockies Stopped Trump From Bulldozing Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Grizzly Bears into Extinction
Lawrence Wittner
Why Are Americans So Confused About the Meaning of “Democratic Socialism”?
Nicky Reid
Climate Cthulhu: A Post-Modern Horror Story
Seth Sandronsky
A Sacramento King’s Ransom: Local Tax Dollars and the Owner’s Wealth
Susan Block
Cougar 2020?
David Yearsley
Mother Mallard’s Little Boy Grows Up
Elliot Sperber
Taking Out Columbus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail