How is domestic economic policy made in Argentina? How do the IMF and World Bank make sure their policy recommendations are implemented in countries of the South?
Sometimes they just send a fax.
The following story comes from Beverly Keene of Servicio Paz y Justicia (Service for Peace and Justice) and Jubilee South, both in Argentina. She spoke in Seattle on November 28th.
“About six months ago, when [the Argentine government was] beginning the last negotiations for the most recent bailout, the then finance minister had announced a press conference Friday afternoon. That's when all good press conferences take place to announce major policies, so you have the whole weekend to kind of cool out. 6 o'clock Friday afternoon. Major policy decisions were expected on what new budget cuts were to be taken in order to pay the interest on the debt in that month. 6:00 came - no press conference yet. Now it's 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, then people were getting really nervous. Press deadlines were over, the nightly news was about to come on. Finally at 7:45, the minister comes rushing into the room, comes rushing up to the podium.
I'm going to try to tell this with a straight face. He comes to the podium and says to the entire nation, ‘I'm sorry we had this delay, the fax has just arrived from Washington, please bear with me while I translate it into Spanish.’ I am not kidding. I'm talking about Argentina, you know, big emerging market, major industrialized country. A partner of the United States in NATO. You know, it's not a banana republic. It's Argentina! And here is the minister of the economy saying, let me translate the new policy measures. He translated very fluently into Spanish what were the education cutbacks and the health cutbacks and what was the cutback on the two big issues that are pending resolution in Argentina, which is the privatization of the health care system and the privatization of the remaining national bank.”
As for the debt, Jubilee South argues it is entirely illegitimate. They say, “Don’t owe, won’t pay.”
For more information about Jubilee South and their perspective on the debt crisis, go to www.jubileesouth.net or http://aidc.org.za/