ARGENTINA: debt, revolt, and revolution

In April 2002 I visited Argentina again and found myself in the middle of a revolution. The devaluation of the peso provoked revolts which by December had deposed De La Rua and eventually propelled Nestor Kirchner to office.

While I was there, the ‘Revolution will not be televised’ attempted coup against Venezuela’s elected president Maduro took place. I witnessed the popular reaction, which registered the shock of ordinary Argentinians faced with the brutal reality that they, and Venezuela, shared the common fate of South Americans: to fight, or be rendered destitute by the unconstrained greed of US financiers and their hangers-on.

Argentina’s dishonourable debt, incurred by governments that had actually used the money to crush and ruin their people, became the instrument throught which the IMF, in which the UK Chancellor Gordon Brown at that time exercised considerable influence, sought to bring Argentina’s new left-leaning president to heel. On my return I tried to organise an appeal for debt cancellation, jointly with British and Italian colleagues (Italy was important because it was home to many poor pensioners who stood to be impoverished in the event of a cancellation: part of any cancellation would therefore have to be guarantees for their incomes).

This explanation of the crisis and its origins was written for Luciano Vasopollo to inform Italian readers of the reasons debt forgiveness was an essential and necessary step.