Mary O’Grady writes on the war against the media in Argentina,
Argentina’s Kirchner Targets the Press
As the state-run economy hits the skids, the government responds with a crackdown on the free press.
Not only is the economy going sour, but according to polls, the nation is growing intolerant of what many consider to be the first couple’s abuse of power.
Four examples serve to make the point: First, when Mrs. Kirchner attacked the farm sector last year because it resisted her plan to impose high export taxes on its harvests, the nation rallied to the defense of the farmers, much to her surprise. Second, her decision to confiscate privately held pension accounts was loudly denounced as a violation of the rule of law. Third, there is a widespread belief that her government is using the state intelligence service to collect information against the president’s “enemies.” Fourth, an overwhelming majority of Argentines resent the privileges and jet-set lifestyle of the first family while national living standards plummet.
This popular dissatisfaction showed up at the polls in the June midterm elections, when Mrs. Kirchner’s wing of the Peronist party lost badly. Even Mr. Kirchner did not manage to prevail in his bid for a house seat representing the province of Buenos Aires, which should have been a stronghold for the first couple.
Mrs. Kirchner and her husband have decided that they lost because of bad press coverage. They are especially upset with the Clarin media company, which though once a supporter, is now an outspoken critic. In public comments Mr. Kirchner often implies that the government is analyzing the company to see if it might not need to be downsized. In September, tax authorities launched a raid on the Buenos Aires offices of its daily newspaper. Tax authorities later issued an apology for the raid, but the paper maintains that it was an act of intimidation.
Could it happen here?
Well, there’s the White House’s “war” against Fox News.
And then there’s the economy: As O’Grady reminds us, in Argentina,
One way a president can boost poll numbers in a bad economy is to wrest control of the central bank and start printing lots of pesos. There’s nothing like cheap financing to restore the market’s enthusiasm for buying all sorts of stuff—from stocks to houses—already on sale at fire sale prices.
The great reflation will make people feel rich again. A weak currency will also be a short-term boon to exporters, whose profits can then be taxed at ever higher rates. Complainers can be denounced for their greed.
It’s a good thing I took up tango. Give it time and it’ll be feeling like Buenos Aires, only here.
There will be no Carnival of Latin America this week. I just got back from Washington, DC’s Tangosutra and now need to catch up with business and blogging.
The Carnival will be back next week.