Argentina’s Latest Act of Civil Disobedience: Drawing on Pesos to Protest Inflation

EspañolThere are many ways of measuring social distress. One of them, for example, is the number of people who actually obey the law. That is always a good starting point to figure out the legitimacy level of a country’s legislative and judicial systems according to its own people.

Simón Bolívar said that “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion is a right.” Argentineans seem to be following his advice, rebelling against the misguided monetary policies of the Kirchner regime. They are rebelling against the Argentinean peso itself.

According to Article 283 of the Argentinean penal code, “whoever clips or alters legal tender, and whoever deals with such altered currency for any purpose, shall be punished with seclusion or imprisonment of one to five years.”

Source: What the Bills Keep On Saying.

It appears that with actual inflation rates close to 35 percent, the rebellion against the peso is legitimate.

A Facebook page titled “What the Bills Keep On Saying,” which has more than 180,000 “likes,” posts pictures of the creative, and at times hilarious, drawings on these bills by different forum members throughout the country.*

What does that mean? Quite simply, it means that, on the one hand, there is very little respect for the law in our country — we live in a permanent state of anomie. On the other hand, there is very little respect for the bills themselves, as a result of the systematic debasement of the currency.

Seven years ago, an AR$2 bill would buy you a small bottle of Coca-Cola. Today, one can hardly buy four small candies with it. The smaller denomination coins are almost not used at all any more, since five cents is now the equivalent of US$0.006. In other words, nothing.

So long as the immoral act of uncontrolled money printing continues — which inflates the supply of pesos well above the demand for the currency — and the government is unable to find a more rational way to balance public spending, civil disobedience will go on, and justifiably so.

*Editor’s note: at the time of release, the Facebook page is unavailable, perhaps banned.

Translated by Alan Furth.

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