The student weekly of St. Olaf | Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | Subscribe
ISSUE 119 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/11/2005

Unrest in Argentina

By Melanie Meinzer
Contributing Writer
and Jesse Horst
Staff Writer

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mar de Plata, Argentina, Nov. 5 – The city is calm today as tourists return to the streets and police cars prowl aimlessly. Less than 12 hours ago the scene was different.Mar de Plata, Argentina, Nov. 5 – The city is calm today as tourists return to the streets and police cars prowl aimlessly. Less than 12 hours ago the scene was different. Windows were smashed and buildings burned as 40,000 people converged on this sleepy tourist hub protesting the arrival of President George W. Bush for a summit between Western Hemisphere leaders.

Shattered windows and charred buildings line the empty Avenida Colon. As the members of the peaceful demonstration became violent, protesters smashed anything and everything that represented international money. The café where I sit displays a poster reading “Fuera Bush” beneath a large Argentine flag. Unlike the neighboring Banco Frances, it is untouched. “They spared us by God’s grace yesterday,” said Jorge Salas, a waiter.

The scene is indicative of the current mood throughout Argentina. Graffiti reading “Iraq no!” and “Bush Asasino” lines nearly every block. For months posters equating Bush and the Iraq war with Nazi fascism have covered the walls at the University of Buenos Aires.

For protesters, the war is evidence of a larger scheme to give U.S. corporations global dominance. Leftists view Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales as leading a continental movement towards socialism and the rejection of the United States. Both men were present at a “counter-summit” Nov. 4 at which Chavez denounced a U.S. proposal for a Free-Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

What makes these Argentine protests interesting is that they are crossing into unexpected sectors of the population. Apart from the actions of “a few hundred crazies” is a nearly unanimous disapproval of the U.S. president and widespread discontent with U.S. actions.

“Of course we want good relations with the United States,” explained Juan Pistani, a corporate lawyer and self-proclaimed fiscal conservative. “But what is happening in Iraq is unpardonable.” It is comments like these, from people who have little distaste for Bush’s liberal economic policies, which should concern Washington.

While supposedly promoting democracy in the Middle East, the war in Iraq is providing the impetus for authoritarian leaders like Chavez, who feed off of the perceived image of U.S. imperialism.

Iraq is also undermining U.S. political capital for legitimate economic and social initiatives. “Bush has no credibility to promote the FTAA with the external politics he has,” Pistani said.

The United States is not respected here. In order to regain any legitimacy in Argentina, the United States should leave Iraq and begin to refocus on economic partnerships in this hemisphere, preferably not from behind the barrel of a gun. Bush’s planned visit to Brazil is a first step, but the journey will be long.

Mar de Plata is calm today as waves crash onto the beach and shops reopen. While it remains doubtful that Chavez’s socialist revolution is really at hand, many believe Bush is reaping the harvest of a flawed foreign policy. The world really is watching.

Staff writer Jesse Horst is a senior from Minneapolis, Minn. He is studying in Argentina this semester. He majors in history with a concentration in Hispanic studies.

Shattered windows and charred buildings line the empty Avenida Colon. As the members of the peaceful demonstration became violent, protesters smashed anything and everything that represented international money. The café where I sit displays a poster reading “Fuera Bush” beneath a large Argentine flag. Unlike the neighboring Banco Frances, it is untouched. “They spared us by God’s grace yesterday,” said Jorge Salas, a waiter.

The scene is indicative of the current mood throughout Argentina. Graffiti reading “Iraq no!” and “Bush Asasino” lines nearly every block. For months posters equating Bush and the Iraq war with Nazi fascism have covered the walls at the University of Buenos Aires.

For protesters, the war is evidence of a larger scheme to give U.S. corporations global dominance. Leftists view Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales as leading a continental movement towards socialism and the rejection of the United States. Both men were present at a “counter-summit” Nov. 4 at which Chavez denounced a U.S. proposal for a Free-Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

What makes these Argentine protests interesting is that they are crossing into unexpected sectors of the population. Apart from the actions of “a few hundred crazies” is a nearly unanimous disapproval of the U.S. president and widespread discontent with U.S. actions.

“Of course we want good relations with the United States,” explained Juan Pistani, a corporate lawyer and self-proclaimed fiscal conservative. “But what is happening in Iraq is unpardonable.” It is comments like these, from people who have little distaste for Bush’s liberal economic policies, which should concern Washington.

While supposedly promoting democracy in the Middle East, the war in Iraq is providing the impetus for authoritarian leaders like Chavez, who feed off of the perceived image of U.S. imperialism.

Iraq is also undermining U.S. political capital for legitimate economic and social initiatives. “Bush has no credibility to promote the FTAA with the external politics he has,” Pistani said.

The United States is not respected here. In order to regain any legitimacy in Argentina, the United States should leave Iraq and begin to refocus on economic partnerships in this hemisphere, preferably not from behind the barrel of a gun. Bush’s planned visit to Brazil is a first step, but the journey will be long.

Mar de Plata is calm today as waves crash onto the beach and shops reopen. While it remains doubtful that Chavez’s socialist revolution is really at hand, many believe Bush is reaping the harvest of a flawed foreign policy. The world really is watching.

Staff writer Jesse Horst is a senior from Minneapolis, Minn. He is studying in Argentina this semester. He majors in history with a concentration in Hispanic studies.





Printer Friendly version of this page Printer friendly version | E-mail a Copy of the Article to a Friend Email this | Write the editors | More articles by Melanie Meinzer

Related Links

More Stories

Page Load: 31 milliseconds