Let’s Not Pay Our Debts Because … “I Choose Argentina”

EspañolThis month, Argentineans celebrated the anniversary of independence from Spain. A group of pro-President Kirchner musicians, social activists, and actors took the occasion to release a video against the vulture funds (those that hold Argentinean debt) and spread it across social media networks. The central message of was “#YoElijoArgentina – No a los Buitres” (I choose Argentina, not the vultures).

The cast of celebrities attack the holdouts (who’s holding out again?) with heavy-handed rhetoric. They label them as speculators who have never invested in the country’s growth, as powerful economic interests that bought debt bonds after the “biggest default in the country’s history.” They added that “the Argentineans” — I hope to leave myself out of this category — do not want anymore crises that put “our” economic growth in danger.

They assume that speculation is bad and that it is wrong to purchase sovereign bonds after a country’s default, as was the case in Argentina in 2002.

The Argentinean government, reinforcing this view, put out a public statement in international media outlets. The officials assured that “only creditors who never wanted to do business with Argentina are the vulture funds, exactly because their business is judicial extortion, and not business conducted under just, legal, and equal conditions for both parties.”

This is where I fail to understand: I was taught that when someone asks to borrow money, it must be returned. Right? Is there anything different going on if the borrower is the state and not an individual? Don’t we speculate all the time in our daily lives?

The Argentinean double standard — we are going to pay, but when, how much, and where we say — is typical of Latin-American discourse: we accept the money but will not obey the terms. What does this mean? That the Argentinean government is saying that it is going to pay, provided that the payment does not go against its interests as a sovereign nation? Seriously?

Can you imagine telling a friend when borrowing his bike, “Hey, I am going to give it back to you, provided that I don’t need to use it anymore”? Or, as a friend on Facebook said, “I told the plumber, I am going to pay, as long as you don’t go against my interests.”

Argentinean President Christina Kirchner, flanked by Hugo Chávez (left) and her late husband Nestor Kirchner (right). (@mauro976mdq)

Instead of getting angry at whomever became the creditor of the debt bond, they should focus their anger on Cristina Kirchner’s administration. Not only do they not want to pay off the debt, they do not even think about the slightest way to lower government spending.

If this is Argentina versus the Vultures, well I will go with the vultures, without a doubt in my mind.

Translation by José Niño.

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