Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

Why US military bases in Argentina?

September 1, 2016

250px-Map_of_Argentina_with_provinces_names_enPresident Mauricio Macri of Argentina has agreed to a U.S. military base in Tierra del Fuego at Argentina’s southern tip and is discussing another in Misiones province at the border with Paraguay and Brazil.

From what threat are these bases supposed to protect the United States?

Opponents of the deal say that these are intended to give the U.S. control over water resources—a big underground aquifer in the north and the portion of the Antarctic ice cap that Argentina claims.

This is not as fantastic as it sounds.  Fresh water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource.  There are those who say one reason for the invasion of Libya was to get control of the water infrastructure built during the Qaddafi regime.

Another rationale could be to conduct operations against drug traffickers in the interior of South America.   I don’t think that would be any more successful that U.S. operations against drug traffickers in Mexico, Colombia and other countries.


American world power: Links & comments 8/1/14

August 1, 2014

A chessboard drenched in blood by Pepe Escobar for the Asia Times.

Parsing the East Asia Powder Keg by Conn M. Hallinan on Dispatches from the Edge.  Hat tip to Bill Harvey.

Early in his administration, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in the hope and expectation that he would pursue a less belligerent foreign policy than President George W. Bush.  I wonder what the Nobel committee is thinking as the Obama administration drifts toward war not only with Russia, but with China.

One of President Obama’s saving graces is that he has been known to pull back from disastrous decisions before it is too late, as in intervention in Syria.  I hope he will pull back from his present course before it is too late.

Orban Says He Seeks to End Liberal Democracy in Hungary by Zoltan Simon for Bloomberg News.

Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary says he wants to Hungary to become an illiberal, nationalist state like Russia, Turkey or China.  I don’t know enough about Hungary to know how seriously to take this statement, but I think it is a straw in the wind.

The viability of democracy was severely tested during the Great Depression, and many people looked to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy as viable alternatives.  If Russia and China weather the current economic crisis better than the USA does, much of the world will, unfortunately, find their form of authoritarianism appealing.

The Vulture: Chewing Argentina’s Living Corpse by Greg Palast.

Clintonians Join Vulture Fund Over Argentina by Conn M. Hallinan for TruthDig.  Hat tip to Bill Harvey.

A U.S. judge overruled a deal made by the government of Argentina with a majority of its creditors to make a partial payment on its debt and avoid national bankruptcy.  All debtors have to be paid in full, the judge ruled.

The reason a U.S. judge has jurisdiction is that the payments by Argentina to its bondholders go through U.S. banks.  I think a consequence of this decision will be that foreign governments avoid U.S. banks whenever possible.

American soft power rests on the fact that the USA is at the center of a lot of things, from the world financial system to the Internet.  But if our government and our corporations abuse this power, it is within the power of the rest of the world to create new systems that bypass the USA.

The passing scene: Links & comments 7/30/14

July 30, 2014

To Address Honduran Refugee Crisis, US Should Stop Financing Repression in Honduras by Laura Raymond for TruthOut.

Hillary Clinton’s Real Scandal Is Honduras, Not Benghazi by Emily Schwartz Greco for Other Words.   Hat tip to Bill Harvey.

People in Honduras and other Central American countries suffer as much or probably more from violence by their own governments as from criminal drug gangs.

Many hand-scrabble farmers in Honduras have been pushed off their land to serve the interest of big landowners, mining corporations or hydroelectric power projects.  Many have gone broke trying to compete with cheap imports.   When they protest, or when workers try to organize labor unions, they risk what human rights organizations call “extrajudicial executions”.

I’ve written in previous posts that we Americans should be more accepting of desperate child migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.  But in the long run, what’s important is respect for basic human rights in those countries.  The U.S. government can’t assure democracy in any country, but it can stop subsidizing and propping up dictatorships.

Coal Miner Whose Brother Died on the Job Was Fired for Flagging Dangers by Dave Jamieson for Huffington Post.  Hat tip to Labor News of Rochester, NY.

In October 2011, Jeremy Coots, a coal miner in eastern Kentucky, helped carry the lifeless body of his brother, Richard Coots, out of a mine where he was crushed to death by a piece of machinery.  Now he has been fired from his job in a different mine for complaining about dangerous and correctable working conditions.

I don’t think that the United States is so poor a country that miners should have to chose between jeopardizing their lives and jeopardizing their livelihoods.

Argentina Deadline Day: Punishment for Rejecting the Neoliberal Consensus Is Nearly Complete by David Dayen for Naked Capitalism.

A U.S. federal judge overruled a deal by the government of Argentina with its major bondholders to refinance its debt.  The reason an American judge has jurisdiction is that the payments go through banks in New York City.

I think the long-range consequence of this is that foreign governments will try to do business with banks in China and other countries that don’t recognize U.S. jurisdiction.

Yes, Robert E. Lee Supported Slavery, the Confederacy and Its Battle Flag by Jonathan Ladd for The Mischief of Faction.

When Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia entered Pennsylvania in 1863, they grabbed every black person they could capture and sent them south to slavery.

The Limits of “Unlimited” by Barbara Fister for Library Babel Fish.

Why Amazon’s Kindle is no replacement for the inter-library loan system.

How did U.S. courts get to rule on Argentina?

June 27, 2014

A financial speculator won a decision in U.S. courts against the government of Argentina which could mean years of unemployment, high taxes, cutbacks in public services in that court.

I am mystified about a number of things in this case, including why the U.S. courts have jurisdiction over Argentina, a sovereign country, and how this decision is to be enforced.

Agentina's economic recovery.  Click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

The background is that Argentina defaulted on its government bonds back in 2001.  Between 2005 and 2010, it worked out a deal with bondholders for them to write off about two-thirds of the debt in return for payment of the rest.

This was a good decision from the standpoint of the people of Argentina and, for the bondholders, better than nothing.

But the U.S. courts have negated that deal by ruling that a speculator who bought some of the original bonds for 20 cents on the dollar is entitled to be paid in full.

Default is a serious matter for nations, just as bankruptcy is a serious matter for individuals and corporations, but sometimes it is necessary.

For a head of state or a head of family, it is better to refuse to pay your creditors than to let people who depend on you go hungry.

Government defaults should, like individual bankruptcy, destroy or greatly harm the credit rating of the defaulter or bankrupt.   In practice, this rarely happens as often as it perhaps should.   Banks have so much more money than good ideas for investing it that they soon start lending again to defaulters and bankrupts.

Click to enlarge

Source: New York Times.  Click to enlarge

But how is it that U.S. courts have jurisdiction over a dispute between sovereign country and its creditors, who are based in many countries?  Is it because the payments go through the Bank of New York Mellon, which is in New York City?

How do U.S. courts propose to enforce their decision on a sovereign country.   Does their jurisdiction over New York City banks give them leverage over the whole world banking system?

It seems to me that this decision is a good reason for Argentina and other countries—including the BRIC group, Brazil, Russia, India and China—to create their own payments system outside U.S. jurisdiction.   Another thing I do not understand is why they have not done this already.  Is it because they fear being locked out of the old system in retaliation, before the new system is in place?

What’s needed is an international bankruptcy court, not under control of any government nor of banks, that could.  Its mission would be to resolve disputes between governments and their creditors when national leaders say they are unable to pay in full, in a way that was fair to the lenders without imposing undue hardships on peoples.

Such a court would have authority to free democratic governments of “odious” debts incurred by previous dictatorships.   Yes, that would make lending to dictatorships risky for banks.  It should be.


Supreme Court Dismisses Case Between Argentina and U.S. Vulture Funds by Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, for US News.  Hat tip for the link to Bill Harvey.

Paul Singer v. Argentina: A Thriller Reaches Its Climax by Ignacio Portes, a Buenos Aires journalist, for Naked Capitalism.

US vulture fund ruling pushes Argentina towards a second bankruptcy by Philip Inman for The Guardian.   [Added 6/28/14]

The new Pope and the Argentine military junta

March 14, 2013

Many Latin American prelates, most famously Dom Helder Camaro of Brazil and the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romaro of El Salvador, spoke out in the 1970s and 1980s against military dictatorships, death squads and torture.  The new Pope Francis was not one of them.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

[Jorge Mario] Bergoglio was the head of the Jesuits in Argentina during the military dictatorship of 1976-1983, during which the military murdered upwards of 30,000 people (as well as kidnapping hundreds of children whose parents the regime had tortured and murdered). Unlike Catholic officials in neighboring Chile and Brazil, where priests, bishops, and even cardinals spoke out against human rights abuses and defended victims of abuses, in Argentina, the Catholic Church was openly complicit in the military regime’s repression.

Bergoglio was not exempt from this involvement: military officers have testified that Bergoglio helped the Argentine military regime hide political prisoners when human rights activists visited the country.  And Bergoglio himself had to testify regarding the kidnapping of two priests who he stripped of their religious licenses shortly before they were kidnapped and tortured.

This isn’t just a case of Bergoglio being a member of an institution that supported a brutal regime; it’s a case of Bergoglio himself having ties, direct and indirect, to that very regime.  For those who hoped for a Pope who might represent a more welcoming and open path for the Catholic Church, the selection of Bergoglio has to be a let-down.

via Americas South and North.

In November 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio was elected head of the Argentine Conference of Bishops for a three-year term, which was renewed in 2008.  At the time he was chosen, the Argentine church was dealing with a notorious political scandal, that of the Rev. Christian von Wernich, a former chaplain of the Buenos Aires police who had been accused of aiding in the questioning, torture and death of political prisoners.

The church authorities had spirited Father von Wernich out of the country and placed him in a parish in Chile under a false name, but he was eventually brought back to Argentina and put on trial. In 2007, he was found guilty on seven counts of complicity in homicide, more than 40 counts of kidnapping and more than 30 of torture, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Father von Wernich was allowed to continue to celebrate Mass in prison, and in 2010 a church official said that “at the appropriate time, von Wernich’s situation will have to be resolved in accordance with canonical law.” But Cardinal Bergoglio never issued a formal apology on behalf of the church, or commented directly on the case, and during his tenure the bishops’ conference was similarly silent.


I never was bothered by the fact Pope Benedict XVI was a member of the Hitler Youth as a teenager.  He was a boy and too young to know better, he never personally participated in Nazi atrocities and he never supported or showed sympathy for Naziism as an adult.  Cardinal Bergoglio was an adult when he supported the fascist Argentine military junta, and, so far as I know, he never expressed regrets.  (If I am wrong on this point, I would be grateful for better information).

[Note added 3/16/13.  Argentina’s bishops in October 2012 issued a collective apology for failing to protect their flock during the dictatorship.]

The Papacy is important to everyone and not just Catholics.  The Roman Catholic Church is not only the world’s largest religious communion, it is the world’s largest membership organization—period.  There are more than a billion Catholics in the world.   A majority of the world’s Christians are Catholics.  What the Pope does, and what the Catholic Church does, are hugely important to the world, for good and bad.

Now it may be that as Pope, Pope Francis will be able to put his past history behind him.  Maybe he will support Catholic social teaching at its best, rather than Catholic authoritarianism at its worst.  I hope so.  It’s possible.  Such a change of heart wouldn’t be unprecedented.  But I wouldn’t bet on it.