Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Obama and Argentina

President Obama visits Argentina tomorrow. In preparation for his visit, he did an interview with CNN Español in which he showed his conservative streak on Latin American policy:

Obama sobre Argentina en la CNN 03/15/2016:



Valentina Iricibar reports on the interview in Obama Criticizes Anti-US Sentiment Under Cristina, Praises Macri The Bubble 03/15/2016:

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama gave an interview to CNN Español in which he talked about US relations with Latin America. Let’s look at what he had to say about Argentina, which consisted basically of criticizing former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and showing optimism for US-Argentine bilateral relations under President Mauricio Macri.

“I think Argentina’s a good example of the shift that’s taken place in terms of US relations with other governments and countries in general,” was Obama’s opening comment.

“I saw President Fernández frequently at the G-20 or similar events. We had a cordial relationship but with respect to her politics she was always anti-American [with a] rhetoric that probably dates from the 1960s or 1970s and not from reality,” he continued.
Obama is in Cuba pursuing a realist policy of putting an end to the long-since-riduculous and failed policy of islolation against Cuba.

In this case, "anti-American" can only mean that Cristina's government wasn't subservient to US policy and not willing to give US banking and business interests a free hand in Argentina.

To be clear, Cristina's government pursued a very successful policy of Keynesian economic stimulus and used price controls and export-import regulations to promote domestic development. She emphasized democratic inclusion and continued her predecessor and late husband Néstor Kirchner's policy of prosecuting former officials who had committed crimes during the military dictatorship of 1976-83.

The current government, on the other hand, very quickly adopted the standard IMF/Washington Consensus program of ending capital controls, drastic devaluation, dropping the previous export and import controls that were a critical part of Cristina's government's successful policies. He has already adopted good Republican/Herbert Hoover austerity policies, reducing government employment and driving down real wages more generally through and drastic and inflationary devaluation. He's appointed a cabinet that the opposition mocks as a cabinet of CEO's. He quickly did away with an important law restricting the monopoly power of media corporations.

And he capitulated to the vulture funds who had bought up defaulted Argentine bonds at bargain-basement prices and blackmailed the Argentine government with the help of a Nixon-appointed federal judge in New York.

In other words, Obama is full of praise for Macri's neoliberal government and its Herbert Hoover economic policies and is trashing Cristina's government and its Keynesian policies. And this is part of a broader American policy against the democratic left in Latin America. (Oscar Laborde, ¿Por qué nos conviene la visita de Obama? Página/12 23.03.2016)

This is one place we see the really conservative side of the Obama/Hillary Clinton foreign policy. He takes the sensible move of normalizing relations with Cuba. But he also demonstratively supports the rightwing parties in Latin America. This is classic Obama. Do something that liberals like, but then continue in an essentially conservative direction in other areas.

It also is a sign of how basically conservative and non-constructive Obama's Latin American policy has been outside of the Cuba normalization. He and Secretary of State Clinton took a friendly attitude toward the military coup in Honduras in 2009 and the "soft coup" in Paraguay in 2012.

InfoBAE provides an interesting related bit of news, that in preparation for Obama's visit, US military planes flew over Argentina in violation of Argentina law, which requires the permission of Argentina's Congress, which the US didn't have. (Aviones de combate de la Fuerza Aérea de EEUU en el espacio aéreo argentino 21.03.2016)

See also: Rafael Mathus Ruiz, Obama elogió al Presidente y dijo que Cristina era "antinorteamericana" La Nación 15.03.2016

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