Argentina Reporting — 28 August 2013

Today we are starting a new column.  It’s called “Ludicrous in Latin America,” because frankly events here are so outrageous that someone must tell the world, because the world does not know. They know about Syria, but they cannot locate Bolivia, Peru, nor Argentina on a map.  Political events unfold in those three countries, and others, like some telenovela (soap opera).  We write this column from mostly-predictable Chile, which operates more in keeping with developed nations than its neighbors.

 

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All that is Ridiculous in Latin America: Argentine Steals an Airline

Argentina has one tiny, money-losing airline: Aerolineas Argentinas.  Next door, LAN of Chile and TAM of Brazil are merging to form LAN-TAM, a giant to rival even Delta and United.  Argentina wants to protect its national airline and its currency, so  Aerolineas Argentinas seized the hangar that LAN needs to do maintenance on its planes.  LAN cannot operate in Argentina without a hanger.   You cannot replace the engine at gate A-12.  People will stare.

That Argentina lacks its own way to ferry people back and worth via an international airlines is a financial problem for the country.  The government there is trying to keep its currency from collapsing, so there are restrictions on buying dollars.  Imports are restricted too, which is obvious since one statement is corollary to the other:  You cannot pay for imports with Argentine Pesos, you need dollars, which are restricted.

Chile has dispatched diplomats. Argentina has sent someone to negotiate too.  He is Axel Kicillof, the finance minister who orchestrated the seizure of the Spanish oil company Respol and created the currency and import restrictions that are in place which, of course, are part of this downwardly spiraling saga.  Further Axel is a member of La Campora who president, Mariano Recalde, is CEO of Aerolineas Argentinas.

La Campora is something between a government agency and the mafia.  No American could believe such a thing could exist.  La Campora was created by President Cristina Fernández de Kirschner’s son Maximo whose detractors have taken to calling “Minimo.”  La Campora took over Aerolineas Argentinas, fired all the leadership, then replaced them with people from La Campora.  Minimo last month lost his bid to be elected to congress.  (His mother was routed too in the elections last month for the congress and senate–she is severely wounded and on her way out in 2015.)

The President of the airline Mariano Recalde is on YouTube today shown asking President Cristina Fernandez to cut off LAN’s access to the country.   That was in 2011.  Last week, Aerolineas Argentinas took LAN’s hanger at the airport.   They just took it.

 

That’s it: Ludicrous in Latin America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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