Argentinian presidents don’t learn. The current President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, has just signed into law an expansion of the country’s territory by 650,000 square miles (1.7 million square kilometres). He even published a map which shows these new territories. The area is approximately three times the size of France.
Two of his predecessors, Leopold Gautieri and Sylvia Fernandez, tried the same tactic, and for the same reason. Unable to deliver on economic promises and establish a fiscal system that pulls the country out of recession and bankruptcy, they resorted to deflection.
Gautieri’s attempt at this ploy resulted in a humiliating war with Britain and many, many young Argentinians dying in the process. Sylvia Fernandez’s similar deflection tactics did not result in a war but did show her total ineptitude in running the country.
This third attempt is almost worse than both the former ones, in that everyone should know better at this point. In addition, the new attempt is almost ludicrous in its scale. It encompasses most of the seabed between Argentina mainland and Antarctica as well as the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and a significant chunk of Antarctica itself, actually reaching the South Pole. It makes the Argentina’s current southern-most state, Tierra del Fuego, the new center of the country. Leopold Gautieri’s “Illusions of grandure” seem paltry by comparison.
President Fernandez’s claim, and his new law, are way beyond audacious, they are simply delusionary. As I said, Argentinian presidents don’t learn.
I have often wondered why the three countries in Latin America that are the richest in natural resource and potential – Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela – can never seem to get their act together politically. They consistently throw up leaders who are incompetent and delusionary, dictatorial and, to be honest, Argentina and Venezuela far outstrip Brazil in this context. I have to ask way the people of these countries keep electing the same problems. I don’t know the answer, but I wish I did and, I am sure, many Argentinians, Venezuelans and Brazilians wish the same.
The latest attempt at deflection from Argentina’s chaotic financial crisis is certainly doomed to failure, but it’s criminal in the face of massive inflation, deterioration in infrastructure and services and the general malaise of the Argentinian people.
One keeps hoping for a competent, caring political saviour, but they seem an almost extinct species these days. Even a competent, benevolent dictator would be better than nothing.