Argentina’s economic travails are looking very familiar, as the government’s experiments have sunk what should be a country of abundance into chaos and poverty. The FT reports that police have gone on strike for higher wages as inflation, which the government of President Cristina Fernández tries to cover up, has destroyed their purchasing power. Looting has broken out across country, forcing desperate mayors to hike police pay in order to get them back on the job.Workers from other sectors are taking note. As more waves of strikes and unrest should be expected, the government is busy giving Chavismo-like excuses:
President Cristina Fernández has so far remained silent about the police protests. But government officials denied that social tensions were behind the pillaging, arguing that unemployment is at record lows, instead accusing “political forces” of co-ordinating the unrest through social media.Ms Fernández’s new cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, railed at “treason” aimed at undermining celebrations on the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s return to democracy on December 10 1983, and criticised the “financial irresponsibility” of indebted provinces for giving in to wage demands.
Argentina remains a powerful example of how a dysfunctional political culture hooked on redistributional populism can condemn generations to stagnation and poverty, despite having some of the most abundant natural resources of any country in the world.