Salon Article on Argentina’s Recent Elections

My first piece for Salon, about the skewed coverage of Argentina’s recent election in the U.S. media. Here’s the lede:

When Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was reelected two weeks ago by the largest margin of any leader since the return of democracy in 1983, even her bitterest opponents had to admit that she’d done something right. Clarín, Buenos Aires’ highest-circulation daily and a strong contender for the title of Kirchner’s enemy No. 1, acknowledged that the president had earned her victory by creating jobs and prosperity. Mauricio Macri, the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires, congratulated Fernández and told reporters, “If things go well for the president, things go well for us.”

But on the pages of America’s leading newspapers, the tone was strikingly less conciliatory….

The full article:

6 thoughts on “Salon Article on Argentina’s Recent Elections

  1. Don´t know how to post a comment on Salon without having to log on, so came on here to congratulate you on your piece: I found it quite refreshing in its balanced observations.

    I am a big fan of the NYTimes but have been frustrated with their continuous bias with their Argentina coverage. Even Krugman has gone out of his way to correct/criticize them on his blog on a couple of ocassions:

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Diego! I love this line from the first Krugman post you cite:

      “I was really struck by the person who said that Argentina is no longer considered a serious country; shouldn’t that be a Serious country? And in Argentina, as elsewhere, being Serious was a disaster.”

  2. Interesting read with some valid points. It’s true, most Argentines seem content with their presidenta, otherwise the results of the free and to my knowledge untampered elections wouldn’t have been possible. What you fail to mention though, is that there really was no contender from the opposition. IMHO they didn’t even try to win these elections with most candidates hacking away at their co-opponents instead of Fernández. This, apart from having split the opposition in too many groups without clear messages as to what they would do differently if elected, led many people to rather keep what they’ve got.
    Regarding the scenarios for the future, some of the premonition in the pieces in NYT and WP might be justified however. The government doesn’t seem to be willing to acknowledge the fact that inflation is at least double the official figures and even less do something about it. So, people will have to make do with less, because the wage increase does not in all cases offset price increases. How much faith people have in the economic policy of the government can be seen by the current run on dollars, which people would rather hide under the mattress with no interest gain at all than keep pesos with up to 18% interest in the bank.
    And this is but one of the economic problems that Fernández’ government faces. Runaway cost for a plethora of subsidies for everything from ‘soccer for all’ to public transport combined with lower prices for soybean on the world market – the main generator of foreign currency for the country and tax for the government – also spell trouble for her populist redistribution politics. She might get lucky and retain favorable conditions on the main markets – but if not, I hardly think she’ll be in a position to keep public spending at the current level until the next elections.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Jorge (I’m guessing)! I actually don’t disagree with any of the points you’ve raised–well, except that I’m not convinced that the weakness of the opposition wasn’t at least partially a product of Cristina’s very strong position going into this election. Regarding the run on dollars, I think a lot of the business class has long had doubts about the Kirchners’ monetary policy and now that it’s pretty clear that the peso is going to be worth less relative to the dollar pretty soon (for a bunch of reasons, many of which are not primarily the government’s fault), it isn’t surprising that people would be trying to turn their pesos into dollars–or that the government would take measures to limit capital flight. (Though of course this may very well come back to bite them.) My main point, though, is that I don’t think the Western media is justified in focusing only on these (and other) problems while ignoring that Argentina has also made almost unbelievable progress on many fronts in the last eight years. To me in reflects a strong bias in favor of economic orthodoxy, and a willingness to ignore away evidence that prioritizing international creditors over the not-rich isn’t the only route that leads to growth.

  3. Your article was excellent. There is such a sore need for good reporting from Latin America. Latin America is providing great models for the rest of the world to consider in dealing with predatory creditor institutions. I don’t believe I have seen much discussion of Argentina in the U.S. press other than for purposes of denigration. It may be hyperbolic to suggest that Argentina has done what debtors everywhere need to consider, but it should at least be a part of the discussion.

    I was in Argentina in 2000 when the ATMs all spat out green Ben Franklins. At the time, Argentina was trying so hard to follow the international consensus on how to fix an economy. It was a disaster. Getting away from the credit-pushers sounds like it was a great thing for Argentina. I am rooting for Argentina!

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