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February 19, 2016

Argentina: We are serial victims of the American rich and powerful

The Canadian Charger

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Although the western media pilloried then Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for her speech at the 68th UN General Assembly, on Sept 24, 2013. In her UN speech, Ms. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner covered a variety of issues from the need to regulate financial markets to the global fight against terrorism. The issues she raised continue to be ignored today as the problems escalate.

Fortunately for the powerful elite in Argentina and the U.S. - and unfortunately for the rest of Argentinians - Conservative opposition candidate Mauricio Macri won Argentina's presidential election in November 2015.

Mr. Macri has promised a break from Ms. Kirchner's leftist economic policy, promising a more business-friendly environment in the country, while Ms. Kirchner's policies were aimed at helping Argentina's poorest.

Mr. Macri inherited a litany of financial problems. The country is facing inflation and is involved in a legal battle against two American hedge funds that reject its plans to restructure the $100 billion in debt it defaulted on in 2001.

The firms, which Ms. Kirchner condemned as "vulture funds", successfully sued for full payment in U.S. federal court. Ms. Kirchner's refusal to pay them pushed Argentina into a new default in 2014.

An important part of President Fernandez de Kirchner's UN speech was dedicated to the re-negotiation of the Argentine debt. After Argentina defaulted on about $100 billion of debt in 2001, the country negotiated a settlement with the majority of its bondholders to repay a certain portion of the amount owed.

However, President Fernandez de Kirchner said U.S. investment funds, which she called “vulture funds”, found a way to profit from Argentina's problems, exacerbating the country's financial crisis in the process.

“And this is what I was about to say, we are serial victims of those unwritten rules of the lobbyists, the rating agencies, the financial derivatives that keep speculating as vultures on countries that fall into default, buy bonds at very low price (sic) and then they seek to collect millionaire amounts. This is the story of Argentina, but it could be the story of any other country very soon.

“In other words, of the US$ 40 million that they bought in this blessed self-regulating markets, they want to receive today US$ 1.700 billion or more. A dollar yield since year 2008 up to now that exceeds 1,300 percent.”

She added that if this kind of operation is not condemned internationally it will be impossible to find businesses that want to invest in a country to create jobs.

“I ask myself and the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, where are we going to find businessmen dedicated to create jobs, to innovate, to invest in production, in generating jobs when actually, thanks to a sort of economics of casino gambling, someone buys 40 million dollars in defaulted bonds and then get (sic) a (U.S.) Court ruling that tells them that they are able to collect 1.3, 1.7 billion dollars.”

Moreover, as President Fernandez de Kirchner pointed out to the UN General Assembly, this is not a problem of Argentina; this is the world’s problem.

Going against the widely entrenched “theology” of a “free” market economy: which means deregulation and “let the market decide” on almost every issue, which, after all, has lifted millions of people out of poverty, while leaving billions more on the doorstep hoping they will follow, President Fernandez de Kirchner called for regulating the world's financial system.

“By the way, also the need to define a global law, a global regulation of markets and an intervention. Because there have been fantastic statements at the G-20, regarding the tax havens, the risk rating agencies, the capital transfers. But the truth is that the world requires a global regulation for global governance, the same way that the respect to the resolutions of the Security Council of United Nations Assembly is asked, we ask also for regulations and the respect to the countries' sovereignty, mainly to the countries that want to honour their commitments.”

In what has become prescient remarks - considering the recent and ongoing crisis regarding Greece's financial problems – President Fernandez de Kirchner said any country could find itself in a similar situation if world financial markets remain unregulated.

At this moment in her speech the president recalled the former US Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill’s jibe at Argentina in 2001, when he said that US plumbers did not want to pay for Argentine’s parties.

Does this sound eerily similar to ubiquitous comments in the western press admonishing Greeks for living beyond their means?

Turning to the never-ending “war on terror”, which of course continues unabated to this day, President Fernández de Kirchner said: “You killed many innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan under the name of war against terrorism,” - referring to the West in general and to Washington in particular.

There was no response to her allegation in the western media, other than using time-worn labels attacking most any critic of the western powers' agreed upon talking points.

One can speculate as to whose agenda the western media is supporting, but it's certainly not the agenda of refugees of conflicts, such as the Syrian people who are being slaughtered and driven from their homes, to the doorsteps of western countries.

When the Argentinian president stated calmly that “Today you pretend making a coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but in fact you’re their allies,” the western media stepped up the personal attacks, but again factual rebuttal to her allegation remains mute. Perhaps this is because the ISIL terrorists were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government and they continue to be financed and supplied with weapons by the US and its Persian Gulf allies – principally Saudi Arabia.

With regard to the “current” crisis in Syria, the President Fernandez de Kirchner said, back in 2013: “What is the difference between death by firearm and death by chemical weapons?”

Addressing the western powers, she said: “We had to wait for 1,000 people to die by chemical weapons before we discovered that 150,000 had been killed by fire arms. Maybe the countries that sell weapons can tell us why.”

The President also used the opportunity to once again call for the UN Security Council to be reformed, calling the institution “completely dysfunctional and obsolete.” She cited how the UN Security Council has dealt with the Syrian crisis as an example of its inefficiency, but said that this was just one example of many. She also stressed that “the right to veto a decision has become an obstacle” and called for a system of “global law and governance” to be created.

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M. Elmasry

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