Tags: Argentina | and | America | Parallels?

Argentina and America – Parallels?

Thursday, 03 January 2002 12:00 AM

This may or may not come to pass.

Certainly Argentina's democracy sits on the most fragile of foundations.

The anti-democratic ideas of the popular president of the 1940s and 1950s, Gen. Juan Peron, permeates all aspects of society.

The Peronist Party, the political party that continues Peron's vision, controls both houses of the Congress, and the new president, Eduardo Duhalde, is an unabashed Peronist.

Interestingly, Peron was inspired by Mussolini and the fascists of the 1930s. He built Argentina on that model.

The "model" is simple: The government controls most major businesses and follows a program of "justicialismo" – socialism to "redistribute" wealth.

Of course, "socialism," "redistribution" and "justicialism" are euphemisms for state-sponsored theft. Dictators like to steal from the rich to buy the support of the poor and working classes, thus keeping political power.

This is exactly what Peron did and what almost every Argentinean civil and military leader who has governed the country since has done.

Argentina should be a First World nation, but Peronism has brought it to the brink of being a Third World banana republic.

Instead of solving its liquidity crisis or figuring out how it should pay its debts, the country needs to figure out a new approach, one based on private property rights, free enterprise and guaranteed political freedoms.

All of these ideas are predicated on rules of honesty and accountability. But these rules are almost non-existent in Argentina today.

The previous president, Carlos Menem, was just released this year from house arrest on corruption charges. Menem is still considered the power of the Peronist Party.

Duhalde himself is no stranger to corruption. There were allegations that he received millions in drug money during his 1999 campaign for president.

It's doubtful he will want to clean house.

Still, the Argentine situation is instructive to Americans and others in Western democracies.

During the 1990s, America lived through one of the greatest economic booms in history. The decade also was marked by the governance of the most corrupt pair ever to live in the White House, Bill and Hillary – America's own Juan and Eva Peron.

Many, including the opposition Republicans, gave the Clintons pass after pass as they engaged in massive corruption and abuse of power – selling everything from the Lincoln bedroom to nuclear secrets to the Chinese.

Like the Argentineans in the 1990s, there was little accountability of the Clinton administration. Why rock the boat when times are good?

The vacuous nature of that argument should have become clear to many in Argentina.

In the wake of Sept. 11 and America's economic tailspin, Americans also may discover the importance of a president and government that are accountable to the people and the law.

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This may or may not come to pass. Certainly Argentina's democracy sits on the most fragile of foundations. The anti-democratic ideas of the popular president of the 1940s and 1950s, Gen. Juan Peron, permeates all aspects of society. The Peronist Party, the political party...
Argentina,and,America,Parallels?
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2002-00-03
Thursday, 03 January 2002 12:00 AM
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