Kirchner's Argentina

Surfing Latin America's Pink Tide

by Fernando Roueax, 11/25/06


It is said that when president Néstor Kirchner met George W. Bush for the first time in Washington in 2003, soon after Kirchner had been elected, the White House was trying to figure out if the Argentinian was a new Hugo Chávez, or an Argentinian version of Chilean president Ricardo Lagos. Kirchner, in turn, was there to assure Mr. Bush he was definitely not a new Chávez; time would make clear that he was not a new Lagos either.(1) Kirchner came to power in May 2003 with a meagre 22 per cent of the popular vote, thanks to former president Carlos Menem's refusal to run in the presidential runoff (Kirchner was sure to win with a near 70 per cent of the votes). At that moment, Argentina was a country in default with an un-payable foreign debt, official levels of poverty of more than 50 per cent, billions of pesos in different provincial bonds replacing the national currency, and a highly mobilized population that had recently overthrown five presidents and would not tolerate any further disappointment or betrayal. How did Argentina, the most industrialized country in Latin America at the beginning of the 20th century, enter the 21st century in such a state?

From Spanish colony to British colony to neoliberal model Like other countries in the region and elsewhere, the conquest of the land from the indigenous people, in which military officials took for themselves what they had stolen in the name of the Argentinian state and Christian values, created a strong elite of landowners indistinguishable from the military elite. After achieving its formal independence from the Spanish Empire in 1810, Argentina entered a period of internal armed conflicts that ended with the triumph of a liberal oligarchy,(2) which accommodated itself very well within the British empire, providing it-as well as other countries in Europe-with agricultural products and raw materials to be used in industry. The high demand of agricultural products from the British empire structured Argentina's economy unevenly, with Buenos Aires in a privileged position as the gate to these European markets. The agro-exporting elite ruled the country from the second half of the 19th century up to the first decade and a half of the 20th century. It was a period of strong capital accumulation: per capita income tripled (1870-1913) in a repressive and corrupt system in which 2 per cent of the population received 20 per cent of the income. The emergence of a new urban elite, which took power in 1916 with the Radical party, began to challenge this agro-exporting model and redirect wealth to the city. With the arrival of the first World War, Argentina started a process of industrialization that was accelerated in the 1960s and 1970s.(3)

Redistribution of wealth during the presidencies of Peron (who, as a minister of a dictatorship took all the measures that had been proposed by the Socialist Party in order to accumulate personal political capital)(4) made Argentina a country with 4.2 per cent unemployment in 1974,(5) a 9 per cent poverty rate (lower than France and the US), with a better distribution of wealth than any other Latin American country and even many industrialized countries.(6) Yet the traditional agro-exporting elite, with deep roots in the military and the powerful Roman Catholic Church, would not give up easily, and used their power to overthrow democratic governments six times in five decades. Between 1930 and 1974, while Argentina was struggling to move away from the model of agro-export towards one of industrialization, capitalism was being transfigured from an emphasis on productive capital to one on financial capital.

After the First and Second World Wars, the US reshaped the world's economy, penetrating the financial markets of Europe and, increasingly, the Third World, forcing the inclusion of virtually all countries into the US financial system, especially after the creation of the dollar standard.(7) During the 1960s, the financial dominance of US capital did not lead to ideological dominance in Latin America, where universities were still very much influenced by the structuralist ideas of Raul Prebisch.(8) But the US was determined to change this. When in Argentina a military dictatorship (1976-1983) was once again trying to reorient Argentina's economy towards an agro-export model, the US already had a set of Argentinian economists trained in the new economic theories of the school of Chicago, headed by Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger. The task of these US-trained economists (known as the Chicago Boys) was to reshape the country's economy, convert it into a free-market zone, and destroy its industry, making it the favorite paradise for US and European banks, multinationals, and speculative capital. These new economists had their first chance to enter the political sphere during the military dictatorship, with the debt crisis of the 1980s. Backed by the IMF and the US government, these newly trained, middle class technocrats were allowed to design the country's economy, with devastating effects. These seven and a half years of dictatorship were the turning point in which Argentinian industry was reduced to 22 per cent of the GDP while employment was reduced by 20 per cent, per capita income was reduced by 15 per cent, and private debts were nationalized, increasing the foreign debt by 600 per cent and putting the country into deficit.

To be able to do this, the dictatorship kidnapped, tortured and killed 30,000 civilians, in what they called the "Proceso de Reorganización Nacional." With this double treatment of genocide and economic devastation, the dirty work had been done and Argentina was integrated into the global financial market-as were most countries in Latin America-and the way was paved for the coming neoliberal reforms. Argentina was now ready to have a democracy, as was the rest of the region. The country, however, did not vote in favour of neoliberalism. Raúl Alfonsín assumed the presidency in December 1983, and "[h]orrified with the new policies, which attempted a radical and awkward change from the program of the 'Proceso,' the neoliberal economists went back to the private sector. The time spent by many of them in the military government had permitted them to consolidate their contacts with local economic forces and financially strengthen their bases of operation. Comfortably installed, they dedicated themselves to earning money and forecasting the catastrophe."(9) Though he survived several military uprisings by granting impunity to most of those who participated in the genocide, newly elected president Alfonsín paid a very high price for not following neoliberal policies: he did not succeed in containing what has been described as a financial coup d'etat, in 1989.

The Chicago Boys celebrated this coup from the front pages of their right-wing newspapers. One of them, "Ambito Financiero" ran an article titled "Market coup," in which it cheerily pointed out that "[t]his democratic Argentina does not want military coups but has adopted a strategy to defend itself from the demagogy of politicians"(10). It became clear that financial capitalists, rather than the military, were now the ones who could overthrow governments on their own. Alfonsín handed over the presidency three months before finishing his term, in the midst of complete economic chaos. Menem, his successor, came to power using the slogan "Follow me, I will not betray you," promising a "productive revolution" which would deliver employment and welfare to the poor, like in the good times of Peron.

Yet he made some promises to financial capital as well: during his government all the key offices in the Ministry of Economy and the Central Bank were occupied by the same Chicago Boys who had started their careers as young technocrats in the dictatorship. He betrayed every single promise he made during his campaign. A few years later, he admitted that, had he said publicly what he meant to do in the government, he never would have won the elections. In 1999, and only after 10 years of "fiesta menemista,"(11) Argentina (and particularly the decimated middle class) voted against neoliberalism. Yet the elected president, Fernando De la Rúa, did not understand the new political context in which he had been voted for and believed he could also get away with betrayal of the popular will, if only he made international financial capital happy by obeying the IMF. He was mistaken. Within a year he lost virtually all of his political base, including his vice-president, who resigned when De la Rúa's friend Fernando De Santibañes, Chicago boy and head of the intelligence agency (the SIDE), distributed bribes to opposition legislators to pass a law further worsening labour conditions.

One year later, still insisting on applying even more neoliberal measures in order to win the approval of the IMF, De la Rúa found himself in the midst of a national rebellion after he trapped the savings of the middle class in the banks, while the rich and the banks themselves were moving all their dollars abroad. Soon, he had to escape from the fury of the people from the roof of the Pink House in a helicopter, after ordering a bloody, futile repression to put down the popular uprising. His neoliberal Minister of Finance, Domingo Cavallo, was forced to resign before him, and went straight to Harvard to teach courses on Latin American Studies, where he continues today. The surreal succession of three more presidents within days was the result of the combination of attempts of different fractions of the Peronist party to take power and the resistance of a highly mobilized population. Eduardo Duhalde, a man with very low levels of popular support and a very consolidated illegal power system that sustained him (see below), was the ultimate winner of the precious treasure of the presidency. If, after ten years of what was known as the "fiesta menemista," Argentinians were tired of neoliberal policies and the corruption of politicians and corporations, after having experienced seven years of a criminal dictatorship, they were also tired of police repression and violence.

Eduardo Duhalde's attempt to control the "piquetero" movement (12) by killing some of their activists was the death sentence for his mandate. He could no longer maintain himself in power and called for anticipated elections in which his own candidate, Néstor Kirchner, would eventually win in a second round. The other candidate was the once invincible ex-president, Carlos Menem, who, unable to lie about his intentions, dropped out of the second round in which he was expected to lose by more than 40 per cent of the votes. When Kirchner was elected in April 2003, his enemies were many: the IMF was determined not to give any relief to Argentina's economy before Kirchner complied with the very measures that had provoked the fall of five presidents in the first place; the population was highly mobilized and would no longer tolerate any of those measures; the local right was threatening him in the national newspapers, predicting his fall within a year; the state was virtually dismantled as energy, oil, services, transportation and virtually all the media were in the hands of multinational corporations very much associated with the local right and foreign creditors; the Central Bank was populated with "Chicago Boys" who responded more to Washington than to the local government; and, lastly, the military, which, though lacking legitimacy and support from civil society, noted with great discomfort that they were now under the mandate of a member of the same political opposition they had meant to make 'disappear,' and started to put pressure in advance to prevent any advance on trials over human rights violations and the genocide during the dictatorship.

Moreover, there was one enemy that presented a very peculiar challenge: the country's political and social stability very much depended on Kirchner's alliance with Eduardo Duhalde, who was in control of the mafia-like apparatus that has funded politics in Argentina for at least the last two decades. That same apparatus that was able to collect millions in funds through illegal activities carried out by the Buenos Aires provincial police-mainly drugs and prostitution-was able to sum votes through the "punteros" and "manzaneras" (a network of neighborhood representatives), and also by generating lootings, kidnappings, robberies and killings that created social unrest and fear, especially in the middle and upper classes. This was the apparatus that had been the ultimate trigger of the 2001 revolts that ended with Duhalde as interim president after the resignation of De la Rúa. Paradoxically, then, to get real control of the country, Kirchner had to destroy (or wrest control of) the very apparatus that brought him to the presidency and one he needed the most if he wanted to escape the fate of his predecessors.

Given this situation, Kirchner had only one option, which became his obsession: to be able to govern he had to gain popular support on his own. And so he did. After one year of presidency, he could boast of unprecedented levels of support for any Argentinian president, and after three years of presidency he remains unchallenged in the polls by any of the opposition leaders from the centre, right, or left. It is a given that he will win the 2007 presidential elections should he decide to run, as his wife would should she run instead. How has he achieved this? By doing exactly what the overthrown president De la Rúa had been voted in for and never attempted to do: combat corruption in some unpopular, corrupt and key institutions such as the Supreme Court, the police and the military; stand up (at least in his discourse) to the multinational corporations that controlled all the once government-owned services, to the IMF and other creditors; and keep a low exchange rate for the peso, which would give the decimated national industry some room to breathe. He built his image of a strong man who defends his people by winning some battles against two types of enemies: the relatively weak ones, and the relatively strong ones who might put his own government at some risk.

The former includes the head of the military, whom he replaced immediately after assuming the presidency; the highly questioned and clearly corrupt Menemist Supreme Court judges, whom he replaced with a process of unprecedented transparency; and individual Argentinian bond holders. In the latter group, of strong and potentially dangerous enemies, are the infamous Buenos Aires provincial police, with their connections to Duhalde, the dictatorship, kidnappings, and to most politicians. The first two years of Kirchner's presidency were unexpectedly satisfactory, especially for the middle class, who welcomed what seemed like a breeze of democratic fresh air. This demobilized the middle class, who had played a key role in the 2001 rebellion. The much more organized workers movement was taken care of by co-opting, manipulating, and dividing it by using State funds, but with a very cautious approach to avoid Duhalde's mistake of generating bloody scenes that would make powerful television images. After three years of presidency, Kirchner has not substantially changed Argentina's economic and social profile, which has been shaped by years of neoliberalism.

While Kirchner's Argentina grew at "Chinese rates" as some economists like to say, unemployment and poverty decrease at a much slower pace. A regressive tax structure makes the richest pay the same taxes when they buy their BMWs as the poorest when they buy rice. Multinational corporations still perceive a very good "business environment," which means the terms of operation have not radically changed from Menem's times. Moreover, some of the progressive measures that Kirchner announced have not been fully implemented, such as the stalled renewal of the Supreme Court when the new-still incomplete, but independent-Supreme Court did not make very favourable rulings for the Kirchner administration. Fortunately, Kirchner seems to have recently come up against limits to how far he can go with "old politics": a candidate he supported in the province of Misiones recently lost a referendum on whether he could modify the provincial constitution to allow indefinite re-elections. Kirchner was supporting other governors in similar bids, but he was confronted with the long-lasting effects of the rebellion that landed him in the presidency. Only hours later, all those governors lost Kirchner's support and gave up their aspirations of remaining in power indefinitely. A few days later, to recover lost political ground, the Kirchner administration decided to take a popular measure and complete the once-abandoned renewal of the Supreme Court.

The "pink tide" effect The current Latin American political landscape is not, as the mainstream media insist, a red tide of left-wing governments. Rather, Aijaz Ahmad describes it more accurately as a "pink tide."(13) Governments such as those of Kirchner in Argentina, Lula in Brazil, Bachelet in Chile, and Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay can only be considered of the same political ilk as Fidel Castro, Chávez, or Morales if one is utterly blind to important nuances or-more cynically-intentionally overlooks them in an effort to be misleading. Suggesting that there is not much difference between Chávez and Kirchner is as inaccurate as suggesting that Chávez might go tomorrow to visit the New York Stock Exchange and ring the opening bell, as Kirchner did last September. This "pink tide" is part of Kirchner's political capital, and he has managed to surf it to his benefit. The presence of president Hugo Chávez in the region is one of many factors that favours Kirchner in the current international conjuncture. On the one hand, Chávez has been replacing the international financial institutions in a way, functioning as a source of capital without the conditionalities that the Bretton Woods institutions usually impose on borrowing countries. The availability of foreign cash without the imposition of onerous conditions is a political luxury for any Argentinian president; one that provides a degree of stability and space to manoeuvre that no one would have imagined even five years ago. On the other hand, the presence of Chávez makes Kirchner, from the White House perspective, particularly useful as a force of "containment" of Chávez; as someone who can dialogue with him and convince him to moderate his actions.

With Chávez on the political scene, Kirchner is seen as the "responsible left," while the same policies that Kirchner is carrying out now would have probably been considered extremely left and openly hostile to Washington just five or ten years ago, when the political landscape in Latin America showed Washington-friendly regimes all over the map. The same can be said (at least so far) of the Bolivian president, Evo Morales. The election of Evo Morales in Bolivia increases the strategic importance of both Kirchner and Lula in the region, figuring them as moderate regimes with which Washington can have a direct dialogue (though of course another Menem or Cardoso would be more to their liking). The support of the Bush administration for both Lula and Kirchner is, then, guaranteed, as long as there are other "threats" in the region. Washington's support is not the only benefit Kirchner enjoys from the presence of Chávez and Morales in the region: they lend him the "implicit threat" of radicalization and realignment with the Cuba-Venezuela-Bolivia axis. European governments with significant investments in Argentina are therefore in a weaker position to push their own agenda too far. The inflexibility of the French government in the negotiations over the Suez water company, for example, ended with its re-nationalization in Argentina in 2006. After the nationalization of oil and gas by Morales in Bolivia, the last thing that the prime minister of Spain, Rodríguez Zapatero, needs is the same thing happening in Argentina. Spain has a total of 42 billion euros of investment in Argentina,(14) a large part of which is in the oil company Repsol-YPF. Kirchner can exploit the policies of Morales and Chávez implicitly: if his conditions are not met or taken into account, he has the option of following the steps of his Latin American colleagues and nationalizing privatized companies.

Moreover, the less understanding and comprehension Kirchner finds in the US and Europe, the more he would have to strengthen his alignment with his friends in the region, and this, in turn, would make it more difficult to isolate the "radicals" in the pink tide. The strong words that Kirchner has for multinational corporations, financial institutions, and so on should be read in this context. They are a reminder that he is a friendly face in the region, but that there are other options; a rhetorical tool that in the present context can be much more effective than in a situation of isolation. Kirchner's discourse would be different perhaps if, looking around the neighborhood, he found only neoliberal governments. This was not the political scenario that Washington and its European allies were envisioning only a few years ago. In 2003, given the high chances of Ignacio Lula Da Silva taking power in Brazil, and the fears of him becoming a new Chávez in the region, the US would have very much liked to isolate Brazil, the most powerful country in the region, as a pre-emptive measure. This would prevent regional alliances, declare the MERCOSUR dead, and give a green light to go ahead with the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), a Pan-American agreement of the free flow of goods and capital (especially US) and a strict control on the movement of labour. A strong Venezuela-Brazil alliance-a powerful combination-was something the US would neither welcome nor tolerate.

The Argentinian crisis of 2001 was in part triggered by the sudden change in IMF policies in tune with US interests in the region. The decision to not give credit to the country and to increase conditionalities was supposed to leave this country on its knees and fully incorporated into the Wall Street-dollar financial system, especially if the goal of abandoning the local currency and replacing it with the dollar had been achieved. That this was a clear objective of the US strategy can be deduced by reading the editorials written by the "dollarization-team" of the US financial capital representatives in Argentina: the Chicago boys of the University of CEMA. In the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rudiger Dornbusch and Ricardo Caballero went so far as to claim that it was time for Argentina to give up its economic sovereignty and leave the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank to a foreign "team of experts" for at least four or five years.(15) With Argentina's economy dismantled and fully incorporated into the dollar economy, and with Colombia's president Álvaro Uribe as a close ally of the US (along with the presidents of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia), Venezuela would have been the only place where Brazil could look to find some resistance to Washington. The coup d'etat of April 2002 in Venezuela has to be seen as an attempt to fully isolate (and surround) a potentially rebellious Brazil. The coup failed to overthrow Chávez, but perhaps it succeeded in convincing both Lula and Kirchner of what Washington was ready to do in case of a radicalization of their policies. The US certainly did not need the troops that were busy in Iraq to destabilize weak governments such as theirs, which do not enjoy the same type of army that Chávez has, willing to stand behind a popular government.(16)

Given this precedent, Kirchner had good reasons, then, to assure Bush that he had a pragmatic friend in the region; one that would not have 'carnal relations' with Washington (as neoliberal president Menem would refer to Argentina's relations with the US during his mandate), but rather one who would talk only about 'a serious capitalism' rather than socialism, one who could guarantee predictability and stability for US and European investments, one who would not take unpopular measures like going to Iraq or offering diplomatic immunity to US soldiers in his country, but could nonetheless collaborate with the US on other adventures where popular opinion was less strong, such as the Franco-American coup in Haiti. In exchange, Kirchner would ask for Bush's support in the negotiations of the private foreign debt and for support within the IMF. The great benefits that Kirchner's presence in the region offers the US are therefore priceless for Washington.


It is said that in the Kirchner-Bush meeting that was mentioned at the beginning of this paper, the US president asked: "Are you a leftist?" "No, I'm a Peronist," was Kirchner's evasive, yet accurate answer. "Oh, you are centre, then," Mr. Bush insisted. "That's right," responded Kirchner. Bush, of course, could not understand what being a Peronist means, partly because it means too many things. Perhaps Kirchner was trying to say, by Peronist, "pragmatic," or maybe he was referring to the ideals of a capitalist dream that remain in the imaginary of Argentina's urban middle and working classes; a capitalism that creates jobs and distributes wealth. It is difficult to know, because if Peronism means anything, it is contradiction. In a continent of contradictions like Latin America, then, Argentina is a country of contradictions, governed by a party of contradictions. As the prominent Argentinian intellectual, Jose Pablo Feinman, puts it: In fact [Peronism] has meant: nationalistic-populist and protectionist between 1946-1952; pro-open markets between 1952-1955; combative, unionist and violent with the "Peronist Resistance"; conciliatory-dialoguistic with [president] Onganía; clearly left or Guevaristic and even a movement of urban guerilla in the 70s; productivist with Peron-Gelbard and the 'Social Deal' of 1973, fascist with López Rega, Isabelita and Ottalagano, social-democrat with Cafiero and the Renovation in 1984/85, and wildly neoliberal with Menem in the 90s.(17)

Following this tradition of contradictions, Kirchner has controlled the mass movements with a 'stick and carrot' policy, co-opting or absorbing part of the piquetero movement, the combative Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the corrupt leaders of the major unions, and the most important media, and imprisoning about 5,000 social activists; all of this while at the same time ending impunity for human rights violators during the dictatorship, cleaning up the Supreme Court, the police and so on.(18) It is true, as James Petras has asserted, that Kirchner "has demobilized the movements and taken the country out of the 'danger zone' of a popular upheaval against the neo-liberal system constructed during the 1990's."(19) But Kirchner did not do so, as Petras suggests, to accomplish what he calls "one of the primary conditions for US domination," but rather as an obsession with strengthening his own position on the one hand, given the context in which he assumed the presidency (i.e. one of political weakness), and on the other hand because he belongs to a long tradition of vertical personalism in Argentina in general, and in the Peronist party in particular, inherited from the culture of the caudillos and reinforced by Peron, Eva Duarte and many, many others. ¬ The same Peronist pragmatism that Kirchner has applied on the internal front, he has applied in his international policies, but here his position has been a much more comfortable one because of-as we have seen-the presence of Chávez (and Morales). Permanently (even when implicitly) threatening with radical measures that would damage global capital interests in Argentina, Kirchner has found his political niche as the wielder of a very much needed 'rationality' in the region. If there were presidential elections in Argentina today, as we have mentioned, Kirchner would win without difficulties, as would the Senator Cristina Fernandez, his wife.

One of them will likely run and win the presidency in 2007, and then there will be the possibility of re-election. Unless the opposition reorganizes itself into a broad alliance, either from the left or from the right, it is likely that for the next 5 to 16 years Argentina will be governed by this (type of) Peronist administration. What, then, will the Latin American scenario look like over the next few years? The political landscape would have changed dramatically this year if Lula had not won the national elections in Brazil. The future of the political, economic, and energetic integration of the region was at stake. With a conservative government in Brazil it would be difficult to build the 8,000-kilometre oil pipeline linking Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina to redirect Venezuela's oil in order to use it for the development of the region.(20) Washington would use a conservative government in Brazil to sign bilateral free trade agreements of the kind it has been signing with other countries in the region, as an alternative (or preamble) to the FTAA. These scenarios would be demolishing for the MERCOSUR and the integration project. When the World Bank and the IMF push for "structural reforms" they know that what they are doing is forcing changes that are, if not totally irreversible, at the very least extremely difficult, lengthy, and politically complicated to go back on. This is clear in the following statement made in a book published by the IMF Institute in the context of the post-USSR Russia, Eastern Europe and Algeria: [P]articipants asked why the working groups had devoted most of their time to privatization rather than to enterprise reform in general. [B]ecause privatization tends to be nonreversible, it is extremely important politically.(21)

Or in the following, published in the IMF survey magazine, analyzing how structural reforms could be implemented in Switzerland: In the Swiss political system of direct democracy, reforms are more likely to be adopted under economic pressure, when the political climate favors compromise. Under these conditions, reforms can be significant and quick, and once in place, they cannot be reversed easily in the consensus-based system.(22)

In Latin America, the 1990s were years of implementing such reforms, led by the Bretton Woods institutions, and were meant to achieve the progressive but permanent inclusion of these countries' economies in the US-led global economy. With the beginning of the 21st century, this tendency started to change direction, mainly in Venezuela, and to some extent with the governments of Lula and Kirchner. Yet the real question is if any deviations from neoliberal policies will outlive the current administrations. For that to happen, there has to be a process of "structural un-reform" whose aim would be to undo the neoliberal structural reforms of the 1990s. While it is unfair and strategically erroneous to expect the undoing of those reforms within the first days of a new administration (as some in Latin America are demanding, for example, from Evo Morales, who has been in power for less than one year), it is also important to remember that without such changes in the countries' economic and political structure, no changes will survive a four- to six-year period of a right-wing government. Changes such as reforms of the Constitution, land and fiscal reforms, and so on, will vary from country to country, but they need to be meant to survive the political leaders themselves. It is in this crucial aspect that-in spite of, as it has been noted above, the insistence of the international media on not making much distinction between presidents as different as Chávez and Kirchner, Lula or Bachelet, Morales or Fidel Castro-each administration has its own, very different record.

This pink tide could, perhaps, become redder, and introduce a real (structural) redistribution of the wealth and the political power that the neoliberal 1990s concentrated for the very few; or it could become a small delay in the ever-expanding process of mass exclusion from the economy, the media and politics. Of all the Latin American presidents, Chávez and Morales are the ones who have attempted to make changes that may survive their administrations, with the introduction of participatory democracy, State control of resources, changes to their constitutions, and so on. Kirchner has been, instead, very ambiguous and timid, and he seems to always be very careful not to enter battles that he will not win, not touching any interests that are too powerful. Where he has been involved in real battles with powerful interests, it has been for the sake of his own survival. The years to come will tell if any of these much needed changes will take place, converting Latin America into a fairer region, with the political and economic capacity to make its own decisions. With all its limitations, the present context is, nevertheless, a historic opportunity to begin a process of de-colonization and un-reform that could put an end to 500 years of European and American colonialism in the region.



(1) Feinman, 2003. "El senor K y el peronismo." Pagina12. Accessed at Viewed on June 28, 2006. (2) Fonseca, Jorge. 2002. "Argentina y la piedra filosofal." In 'El Pais.' Accessed at Viewed on July 4, 2006. (3) Ibid. (4) Gonzalez, O. P. and Fernández H. 2005. Reached at (5) Verbitzky, H. 2005. "Economia y Politica." In Pagina12. Accessed at (6) Fonseca, Jorge. Op. Cit. (7) Hudson, 1968. Super Imperialism. The Economic Strategy of American Empire. New York, Chicago and San Francisco: Holt, Rinehart and Wiston. (8) Glen Biglaiser. 2002. "The Internationalization of Chicago's Economists in Latin America." In Economic Development and Cultural Change. The University of Chicago. (pp. 269-286) (9) José Natanson, 2004. Buenos Muchachos. Vida y obra de los economistas del establishment. Buenos Aires, Libros del Zorzal. (p. 69). My translation. (10) Diario Ambito Financiero, Dec 15, 1989. From Wikipedia, accessed at Viewed on July 6, 2006. In the original: "Esta Argentina democrática no quiere más golpes de estado militares pero ha adoptado una estrategia para defenderse de la demagogia de los políticos" My translation. (11) The "fiesta menemista," or "Menemist party" is the way Argentinians call the 10 years of Menemist government. The idea of party does not mean enjoyment for all Argentinans. On the contrary, it gives the idea of a great but very exclusive party of rich people in the Menem administration and their friends in the big businesses and stock market, who would have a life of abundance and wastefulness within close doors, when most people were left out, condemned to watch from outside. (12) A movement of unemployed people who, unable to use strikes as a way of protest, they organize piquets, shutting down streets and highways for several hours. (13) Ahmad, Aijaz, 2006. "Latin America's Pink Tide." In Frontline, Volume 23, Issues 04, Feb 25-Mar10. Accessed at Viewed on June 30, 2006. (14) Feldman, Pablo. "La unica diferencia es el fútbol". Accessed at Viewed on June 30, 2006. (15) Nudler, Julio. 2002. "Invádeme ya, condenado Rudi." Accessed at Viewed on June 30, 2006. (16) Walden Bello "An army of the people." In Frontline, Vol. 23, Issue 7. April 8-21, 2006. Accessed at Viewed on June 20, 2006. (17) Op. Cit. In the original: "De hecho, lo ha significado: nacional-popular y proteccionista entre 1946-1952, aperturista entre 1952-1955, sindicalista combativo y ponebombas, o "caños", con la "Resistencia Peronista", negociador-dialoguista-conciliador con Onganía, claramente izquierdista o guevarista y hasta movimiento de guerrilla urbana en los '70, productivista con Perón-Gelbard y el Pacto Social del '73, fascista con López Rega, Isabelita y Ottalagano, socialdemócrata con Cafiero y la Renovación en 1984/85 y neoliberal salvaje con Menem en la década del '90." My transation. (18) These last measures of great popularity with the progressive, urban middle class. (19) Petras, James. 2004 "The Empire Changes Gears." In Counterpunch. Accessed at Viewed on June 30, 2006. (20) Perez Valenzuela, Mariela. 2005. "MERCOSUR: Venezuela's entry, significant integrationalist move." In Granma International. Accessed at Viewed on June 30, 2006 (21) Michalopoulos, Constantine, Donal Donovan and Karim Nashashibi. 2004. "Summary of Discussion" on "State Enterprise Reform and the Effectiveness of Macroeconomic Policies." In Coordinating Stabilization and Structural Reform: Proceedings of the seminar 'Coordination of Structural Reform and Macroeconomic Stabilization', edited by Richard D. Barth, Alan R. Roe and Chorng-Huey Wong. Washington, D.C.: IMF Institute. (22) Braumann, Benedikt. 2005. "Switzerland: Economic reform in a direct democracy." IMF Survey, July 4, 2005, Vol. 34, No. 12, pp. 190-191.

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