“There are four kinds of countries in the world: developed countries, undeveloped countries, Japan and Argentina.”- Simon Kuznets.
In 1946, Juan Domingo Peron was expanding the social welfare system and the vocational schools in Argentina. His idea was to create an industrialized economy based on a corporative system spinning around a strong state. He created a whole system of unions, nationalized public services and engaged in numerous public works. The country that had been one the richest in the world before the First World War had seen its profits been considerably reduced due to the global crisis in the thirties. A period of bonanza had allowed Peron to take advantage of people’s optimism and ensure his populist ruling. Everything was done not for the sake of the country, but for the mere love of power. The national bank had been nationalized in order to take loans to finance public expenditure. The only way to redemption, preconized a century before by Domingo Sarmiento, had been left aside. A holistic education, the key to social development, had been disregarded to make place for technocratic policies. An illiterate working class was handed the future of the country; they would haul the country intro prosperity with the brute animal force they had been born with.
Sixty years later, after several coup d’états, ten years of radical liberalism and the greatest sovereign default in history, the country wasn’t doing any better. New nationalistic measures were taken; a Spanish oil company was expropriated, there were restrictions on imports and on currency exchange. The current president was bracing herself for a new default, although this time not of the country’s own making. The liberal global market didn’t seem so liberal after all. They were exacting every dollar from Argentina, with accumulated interests. The president’s diseased husband had reached an agreement with conscientious creditors that sought a solidary solution to the problem, but there were always those keen on savage liberalism, who believed they had the right to tromp on nations.
Argentina had lived almost one hundred years of solitude, which had started since the decline of its golden period in 1917. It was 2015, two years left for the centennial of this lonely path Argentina had taken; the path less trodden. However, looking at the demography of this country, it’s not strange that was not better developed; in general, South American countries were not doing that well economic wise. Argentina had come back to its bosom after trying to stand out from the rest. This maneuver had gained the country the animosity of its neighbors, who rejoiced in Argentina’s misfortunes until the country became humble again. Now Argentina was thinking of South American blocks and Chinese allies, when decades before it walked hand in hand with the States. Now Argentina was denouncing the economic terrorism of the imperialist global power, but just because it had been seriously harmed by it. The political system had a history of corruption and demagogy which it needed to leave behind if the country was going to come back from its isolation. A new air was starting to be breathed as elections came near. The current president had already shown its true colors, after having bravely fought off the foreign vultures and the internal traitors. But no politician is exempt from corruption for long; the same system demands it and to be in power means to compromise. She had remained as faultless as possible, but she was losing popular support and any real or fictitious scandal could harm her already. A prosecutor had accused her of covering the bombing in the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, an event that had taken place ten year before her presidency. The same person had been found dead from a shot to the head in his apartment; the common opinion swayed between a murder to silence the truth or to incriminate the president.
That was the current situation in that large country. The currency had dropped eight times its value since 2001. Ever louder people were talking about inflation and devaluation as the result of institutionalized fraud. Argentina was the best example of economic mismanagement and all other countries tried not to follow its suit. With some luck, it would go out of its crisis to enjoy a new decade of prosperity and then fall back again into semi-poverty.
Chapter 31 of Second Chances