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11/05/2012 | Undemocratic Trends and Rising Illicit Drug Use in Argentina

Jerry Brewer

What has certainly been of pressing concern this year is the future for continued democracy in Latin America. Although the northern cone nations of Central America, as well as several of their South American neighbors, continue to demonstrate unstable positions of democratic government, Argentina is exhibiting even weaker enforcement of law and order.


Argentina is a beautiful and vibrant country with incredible natural resources. As well, Argentina has traditionally radiated freedom and an intense patriotic pride, and it has been a good ally of the U.S. Much of the U.S. culture is seen in Argentina's youth.

Argentina's diverse and rich culture of Spanish, Italian and other European origins has uniquely placed the country in a previous posture of friendly open arms. Yet now, it is hardly recognizable from the standpoint of government left-leaning agendas that threaten freedoms and a previous vivacious quality of life.

It is hoped that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her closest government advisers are not standing at attention to the rhetorical meanderings of Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez's -- leaning away from an erect posture of firm democratic decisions to a somewhat out of full control and non-transparent political mode.

Chavez's meddling in Argentina's political affairs and reputation became clear in November 2005, at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata. Chavez rallied and joined 20,000 people in a soccer stadium, coyly enlisting Argentina's legendary soccer hero Diego Maradona -- a loyal fanatic of Chavez, Fidel Castro, and the former Argentine revolutionist Che Guevara. The rally was obviously an orchestration to take advantage of the world media in order to demonstrate hatred of the U.S. Voracious shouts of "exterminate the empire" (a popular and current Chavez chant) were followed by a tirade of Chavez expletives.

Later, the Chavez regime was accused of funneling "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to the presidential campaign of Cristina in 2007, as Chavez was planning to visit Argentina in August "to refinance billions of U.S. dollars in Argentine debt through bond purchases and announce a natural gas deal."

On August 4, 2007, Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson and Venezuelan state officials arrived in Argentina on a private flight -- hired by Argentine and Venezuelan state oil officials -- carrying US$790,550 in cash. Wilson did not declare the money upon arrival. Opponents and critics immediately pounced on the incident as proof that Chavez "was buying the support of the Kirchner government and proof of corruption." Cristina took office as president in October 2007.

Hugo Chavez's decision to kick the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) out of Venezuela also caught on with Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales. Furthermore, Ecuador's Rafael Correa refused to renew the drug interdiction base at Manta for U.S. drug interdiction efforts in the region. And Argentina's cooperation with interdiction efforts has also waned, resulting in an increased prominence in the drug trade; and earning it the label of "the new narco state" according to a number of pundits.

It was recently reported that Argentina has the highest prevalence of cocaine use among adults in South America. From a previously secondary shipping hub for drugs destined for Europe, international trafficking groups have now expanded their activities within Argentina, "increasing exportation and transforming it from a transit point into a destination for consumption and synthesis."

In 2008, Argentina "surpassed its neighbors and the U.S. as the highest prevalence of cocaine use in the Western Hemisphere," according to an April 19 piece in Foreign Affairs. "Argentines now consume five times more cocaine than the global average and [have] one of the highest usage rates in the world."

As equally troubling for Argentina is their listing by the U.S. as a destination country for women and children trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation. Most victims in this human trafficking are brought from rural to urban areas to be exploited.

Moreover, President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner raised eyebrows after joining neighboring leftist governments in voting to support a Palestinian state.

An early advisor and "global political strategist" to Hugo Chavez, Norberto Ceresole, advised that Latin America "must forge alliances with Arab nations to fight against the U.S.," and what he called "the Jewish financial mafia." Chavez subsequently played a major role at the first South American-Arab Summit in Brazil, attacking the U.S. and Israel as the chief enemies of Latin America.

On 25 October 2010, President Fernandez de Kirchner presided over a ceremony reopening the Pilcaniyeu (Rio Negro) uranium enrichment complex, where she emphasized "the peaceful intentions of the project."

And now, the Argentine President has announced that her government will seize controlling interest in the YPF oil company in Argentina, 51 percent of which is owned by the Spanish oil concern Repsol. This action mirrors many of Chavez's actions in nationalizing businesses in Venezuela, which subsequently caught on in Ecuador and Bolivia.

Argentina is clearly up to its waist in festering alligators, representing an ever increasing fall into the serious mistakes of neighboring leftist dictatorships that have left their homelands with increasingly violent crime and economic despair. Even the elusive fugitive Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman was reported to be living in Argentina until 2011. (Estados Unidos)


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