Saturday, March 29, 2008

Starvation in Buenos Aires?

Just got off the phone with my 18-year-old daughter, who's attending college in Argentina and says, "People in Buenos Aires are starving." Maybe a bit overdramatic, but tax hikes provoked a farmer's protest that has led to shortages and rationing:
Protesters banged pots and blocked roads in several major cities across Argentina as the country entered a third week of demonstrations by farmers angry at new taxes imposed on agricultural exports by President Cristina Fernandez.
Shortages of basic foods, including dairy items and meat, are being reported across the country as the disruption spreads. The stand-off is threatening to cripple the country's most lucrative export trade, notably of beef, corn, soy beans and wheat.
Elected just five months ago to succeed her husband Nestor Kirchner, Mrs Fernandez went on national television to defend the tax increases and send a signal that she would not back down.
"I'm not going to submit to extortion," she said. "I understand the industry's interests, but I want them to know that I'm the President for all Argentines." The government has said it will not enter talks with the farmers while the disruption continues.
Farmers' leaders, however, have insisted that the increases of up to 45 per cent on the export taxes are intolerable. "We will continue to strike for as long as necessary," said a defiant Eduardo Buzzi, president of the Argentine Agrarian Federation.
Stick to your guns, Eduardo! Force the government to repeal those taxes. If that idiot president keeps going this way, Argentina will end up like Zimbabwe, where Mugabe's despotism has destroyed the economy. Somebody needs to send Christina Fernandez a few books by Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell.

Meanwhile, we're preparing to send a "care package" of food to our daughter, who reports that the shortage is "not so bad" at Universidad Adventista del Plata. She's 18 and doing her college sophomore year abroad in a full-immersion Spanish language program. Yeah, she's making top grades, and has promised to send me an e-mail report on the political-economic crisis caused by Fernandez's tax policy.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just came across your blog in my google alerts about Buenos Aires. I live in Buenos Aires and no one here is starving. There may not be a lot of beef in the stores, but I had chicken for lunch, am preparing salmon for dinner, and had no problems finding anything that I wanted at my neighborhood grocery.

    This "crisis" is going to blow over and have no lasting impact. These types of skirmishes happen all the time in Argentine politics and have throughout the country's history. It's the nature of politics here, but Argentina is still a long ways from being Zimbabwe.