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So Glad The Grown-Ups are Back in Charge in Argentina

Photo Source Agência Brasil Fotografias | CC BY 2.0

If you’ve followed Latin American politics at all in the mainstream press, I am sure you’ve heard and read about how the Kirchners (2003-2015) mismanaged the Argentine economy and how, with the election of Mauricio Macri,  the adults were back in the room and the economy was on its way to a more healthy and sustainable management.

There’s only one problem with the story: reality.

When Nestor Kirchner took over in 2003, things could not have been worse. The bank “corralito” had robbed millions of their life savings. The society lay prostrate before the world, a bargain basement for anyone with a few dollars in his or her pocket. I know, I visited the country in those dark days and saw the devastation all around me.

Over the next several years the economy was re-built and the middle and lower middle classes began to to re-acquire a sense of living in a functioning society. I was amazed at the transformation I witnessed over my visits in the ensuing decade.

Key to the Kirchners’ relative success was their repudiation of the IMF debts run up during the Menem years (1989-1999). With some help from Venezuela,  Nestor Kirchner faced down the financial vultures and basically  told them to go to hell. And it worked for the great majority of the country’s population.

This, of course gained him the  enmity of the country’s ever-rancid elites who put their “right” to do as they pleased with “their” dollars above any sense of the common good. Led by the powerful Clarín media group (in which, surprise, surprise, Goldman Sachs has a near 20% stake) they launched non-stop attacks on the still  very popular Cristina Kirchner (Nestor had died suddenly in 2010), tossing  any and every accusation they could at her non-stop for several years.

I have no doubt there was corruption in her government just as there is in every government in the world. I also have no doubt that its prevalence in relation to that which existed in previous governments was totally blown out of proportion.

After several years of informational bombardment the international elites and their internal fifth column  finally got what they wanted: a personal errand boy in the Casa  Rosada in the person of Mauricio Macri.

Macri quickly showed that here was no demand of international finance to which he would not bow. Hence, all the positive spin in the MSM about maturity and responsibility returning to Argentina.

Well, last week  right as  Macri  was finishing  his daily lip-lock on the behind of international capital a funny thing happened: the peso went into free fall, trading as high as 40 to the dollar.

What a surprise.

This is, of course, what the bankers wanted. Now, as the Argentine people suffer, they can rush in and buy up the countries productive industries for a song and saddle future generation with still more unplayable debt.

Victory achieved.

And what made this comeback victory possible? What makes all the victories of the thuggish elites possible in today’s world. Media control. If you can say black is white and white is black enough times on the TV, sadly,  most people will melt sooner or later.

The key to any chance of re-building democracy in our time  runs  directly through the reconstruction of critical reading capacities among those fortunate enough to study beyond the pursuit of mere literacy.

Until people take this challenge seriously, and do something about in day-to-day-terms, the oligarchs and their government errand boys will continue their scorched earth approach to the social and physical patrimony of our children and our grandchildren.

It really isn’t that hard to read each day with attention and discernment. Considering the consequences of not doing so, you’d think more people might give it a try.

But then again, cat videos are really cute and bring a lot of joy to those who watch them.

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Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released  Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

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