Argentina's President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has hit on a novel way to try to alleviate her self-inflicted economic free fall and acute shortage of hard currency -- invite money launderers from around the world to put their dollars in Argentine banks with no questions asked.
That's not, of course, the official plan. But this month's move is the latest in a series of steps that seem more rooted in magical thinking than in economic reality that have pushed Argentina ever closer to financial ruin and international pariah status. The government-sponsored amnesty to allow any amount of dollars from anywhere in the world to find a home in Argentina, with no questions asked, was passed into law last Wednesday. The justification is the need for hard currency because the current economic policies have drive up the value of the "blue-" or black-market dollar to 10 pesos while the official exchange remains pegged at 5 pesos.
In recent months, the Fernández de Kirchner government has imposed import and export policies that have led to chaos, shortages, massive capital flight, and a 20 percent fall in foreign reserves. The president has ramped up her attacks on the independent media while spending hundreds of millions of government dollars on advertising to shore up official media outlets, while moving aggressively to neuter the independent judiciary that has consistently blocked her worst impulses from becoming law.
In its foreign relations, Argentina, through expropriations and contempt for international law, has antagonized traditional allies such as Brazil, Spain, and the United States -- while growing ever closer to Iran, a U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism allied with Venezuela and Cuba. Argentina has become a major way station for Bolivian and Peruvian cocaine headed to West Africa and then onward to Europe, while the government's anti-U.S. rhetoric has grown increasingly strident. The International Monetary Fund has threatened to suspend Argentina for falsifying economic data in order to hide the impending collapse.
The architects of these unorthodox policies are a group of messianic young presidential advisers and government officials known as "La Cámpora," who believe they are the vanguard of a transformational generation that will help Argentina regain its rightful place as a world leader. Their leader is Máximo Kirchner, the president's son. One of the Camporista's leaders is Cecilia Nahón, appointed ambassador to the United States at the end of last year.
As a matter of policy, Camporistas do not speak to independent media, choosing instead to use government-controlled social and traditional media to spread their message and attack their enemies. No government official, including members of congress, responded to interview requests for the report that informed this article, or for the article itself.
The Camporistas take their name from Héctor José Cámpora, an unconditional ally of the late dictator Juan Domingo Perón and of the armed radical left wing of Peronist movement that became the Montonero guerrillas. Cámpora served as president for 49 days in 1973, just long enough to sign an amnesty to allow Perón, then living in exile, to return and run for president.