Thursday, March 24, 2016

Obama's double message on the Cuba-Argentina trip

The New York Times presented a helpful op-ed about Argentina and the implications of Obama's visit that placed his clear stamp of approval on President Mauricio Macri's neoliberal policies. And carefully ignored the developing human rights abuses that have characterized the first months of his government: Gastón Chillier and Ernesto Seamánmarch, What Obama Should Know About Macri’s Argentina 03/23/2016. Spanish version: Lo que Obama debe saber sobre la Argentina de Macri Pagina/12 24.03.2016

Obama's visit to Argentina is a good example of his balancing liberal initiatives with distinctively conservative ones. Actually, the opening to Cuba is "liberal" only in that its a pragmatic recognition that it was time to abandon long-failed policies that conservatives wanted to keep anyway. But his trip to Argentina the last two days is the conservative balancing side. And I do mean conservative.

The current Argentine President Mauricio Macri is a classic trust-fund-baby Mitt Romney type, born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. And his economic policy are standard-issue IMF/Herbert Hoover/Angela Merkel ones. And with his visit to Argentina Obama is explicitly endorsing them as things his Administration wants to promote in Latin America. Which also means a strong preference for rightwing parties in power there and *not* those of the democratic left.

The biggest single American beneficiary of the new government is surely Paul Singer, the hedge fund manager who Marci's government just caved in to on the "vulture fund" investments in defaulted Argentine bonds, giving them a staggering return on investment. Singer is one of the single biggest contributors of the US Republican Party and was a Marco Rubio supporter this year:

Argentina’s economic and political meltdown in 2001 conclusively demonstrated that the free market approach of the 1990s had not made life better for ordinary people. Yet, Mr. Macri and his team are reviving failed policies of the past. With commodity prices in decline, they want to attract foreign investment by cutting their way to competitiveness: reducing public spending and shrinking government.

At the same time, the administration has lifted controls on currency exchange, boosting inflation. Some analysts predict that it will exceed the official target for 2016 of 20 to 25 percent.
The also observe, "An acknowledgment of the malign role the United States played in the early years of the dictatorship is welcome, if overdue. But to ignore the red flags on human rights raised by the recent actions of Argentina’s new ruling party is a worrying reminder of that legacy. For Mr. Macri, Mr. Obama’s visit is already an endorsement."

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