Latin American politics has a tendency to resemble the magical realism made famous by the "boom" generation of southern-hemisphere writers a few decades ago; just when you think you've reached solid, stable ground, everything shifts and you find yourself more disoriented than when you started. It is with this word of caution that one should treat the enocouraging news out of Argentina and Venezuela.
In Argentina, 12 years of Kirchner rule has come to an end with the ascension to the presidency of Mauricio Macri, former mayor of Buenos Aires, whose seemingly simple campaign slogan Cambiemos ("Let's Change") betrayed larger unrest throughout the country. Macri, a relative unknown in the United States, has theRead more
Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Venezuelan leader, Nicolas Maduro, have much more in common than failing economies, populist rhetoric, and a penchant for extra-judicial political maneuvers: they are both the first and second (respectively) highest recipients of Chinese lending in Latin America—a region that, between 2005 and 2013 has received more than $100 billion in loan commitments from Beijing.Read more
Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (the AMIA building) in Argentina, has been found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment. Nisman was famous in intelligence and law enforcement circles for amassing evidence that implicates Iran in the AMIA attack, which left 85 people dead and hundreds more wounded.Read more
Late last month, the Spanish energy giant Repsol agreed to accept $5 billion worth of Argentine bonds as repayment for the government’s confiscation of YPF, Argentina’s largest oil company, which was formerly controlled by Repsol until its April 2012 seizure by President Cristina Kirchner. With the South American country mired in financial turmoil and flirting with yet another sovereign default, the true value of its bonds remains to be seen. But for now, President Kirchner appears to have resolved a longstanding dispute that had polluted Argentina’s image and accelerated capital flight.Read more
When Argentine president Cristina Kirchner nationalized the Spanish-owned YPF oil company this past April, Washington Post correspondent Juan Forero proclaimed her “the standard-bearer of populist nationalism in Latin America.”Read more
Based on last week’s debate, both President Obama and Governor Romney believe that squeezing the Iranians economically is the best way—and perhaps the only way—to end their nuclear-weapons program without resorting to a military strike. Of course, nobody knows if sanctions will actually work. But if the United States is truly serious about crushing Iran’s economy, it must pursue a more aggressive strategy, and it must put more pressure on Iranian trading partners.Read more
Today in Washington, Argentine vice president Amado Boudou will be addressing a Council of the Americas conference on the global economic recovery. I have no idea what Boudou will say in his remarks, and I have no idea how the attendees will receive it. But I do know this: Having a senior member of the Kirchner government speak about responsible economic policy is like having a senior member of the Iranian government speak about religious tolerance.Read more
Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner cannot claim to be the only world leader to lash out against oil speculators this week. Last Tuesday President Obama used an appearance in the White House Rose Garden to do the same. But Kirchner put her money where her mouth is. She announced she was renationalizing YPF, Argentina’s national oil company, which was privatized in 1993 and still accounts for almost all of the country’s oil production.Read more
In 1982, Argentina’s right wing military junta launched a sudden invasion of the Falkland Islands, the South Atlantic archipelago that has been a British possession since 1833.Read more
There are good days and bad days, but even on the good days the abyss is never too far away. The eurozone’s dangerously original mix of innovation, incoherence, and unaccountability makes it difficult to identify a single event that could finally push it over the edge. But, with confidence already shot, there is one obvious contender, a series of old-fashioned bank runs given a brutal new twist by the logic of currency union as cash pours out of the stricken banks and the country (or countries) that hosts them.Read more
Iran has a lot riding on the survival—both literal and political—of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. If the Bolivarian revolutionary beats cancer and wins another term as president, Tehran will continue to enjoy a strategic partnership with the world’s fifth largest oil exporter. But if Chávez dies, or if Venezuela’s democratic opposition finds a way to defeat him at the ballot box, the mullahs will lose their most important ally in Latin America, an ally who has effectively turned his country into an Iranian satellite.Read more
Analyzing Argentina’s foreign policy can sometimes be more suited to psychiatrists than journalists. Consider, for example, how President Cristina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman have handled bilateral relations with Iran.Read more
The Brazilian magazine Veja is reporting that al Qaeda members have established an active presence in South America’s largest country, as have militants associated with Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups. They are apparently engaged in fundraising, recruitment, and strategic planning.Read more
The last time that Argentine foreign minister Héctor Timerman made international news, he was needlessly provoking a crisis in bilateral relations with the United States over a routine military-training exercise. A few weeks earlier, Timerman had accused the U.S. government of operating “torture” schools both at home and abroad.Read more
Two recent dispatches from Buenos Aires highlight the travails of Argentine president Cristina Kirchner, whose foolish populism and economic mismanagement have created serious headaches for her government.Read more
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