Argentina is back on the front pages of the financial press — and once again for all the wrong reasons. As María Camila Morales outlines here, Cristina Kirchner’s populist model of economic governance is showing serious cracks and strains, through which the long-denied reality of the country’s deepening crisis is finally peeping through.
However, despite what the international press might say, it’s not all the Kirchners’ fault. In many ways, the current unravelling of the Argentinian economy was as good as baked into the cake when Argentina cancelled / defaulted on its international debt in 2006. Since then, the country has been effectively shut out of the international financial markets and, as a result, has depended almost entirely on rapidly dwindling foreign exchange earnings to sustain its economy.
Indeed, most of what is happening in Argentina right now has its roots in the hey days of Washington’s neo-liberal occupation of South America in the 1990s. Up until its economic collapse and subsequent corralito (seizure of customers’ bank deposits) in 2001-02 — all of which transpired under the watchful eye of the IMF, now one of the three horsemen of Europe’s financial apocalypse — Argentina was one of the poster boys of the Washington Consensus.
For well over 20 years, it had followed the international rule book of global finance to a tee. Indeed, from the rise of the country’s military dictatorship in 1976 to its economic collapse in 2001, Argentina, like Pinochet’s Chile, was a frontline testing ground for Milton Friedman’s neo-liberal economic model.
What followed was one of the most rapacious acts of looting of a nation’s resources in modern history — all of it happily facilitated by Argentina’s treasonous president Carlos Menem. In a period of just a few years, one of the richest nations in Latin America – and one of the few to boast a strong, broad-based middle class – was reduced to a state of penury. By May 2003, over 50 percent of the country’s population was living below the poverty line.
For a clearer understanding of the events leading up to the Argentinian collapse and the devastating impact they continue to have on the country’s economy and society, I recommend watching the following documentary. Filmed by Fernando Solanas, an Argentinian film maker who took six bullets in the leg for opposing the Menem government’s privatisation of Argentina’s public oil company, YPF, Memory of a Plunder offers a unique audiovisual account of economic collapse and its aftermath.
Most importantly, it serves as a stark warning of what awaits countries around the globe if people do not collectively push back against the swollen ambitions of the global corporatocracy.
If you liked this movie, you might want to check out our rather humble though fast growing collection of Films of the Week.