November 1, 2005
The 2005 "Summit of the Americas" will commence at the resort town of Mar del Plata, Argentina on Thursday. In anticipation of large-scale protests, there will be massive police protection for President Bush. That's a bit ironic, given that Argentina's president Nestor Kirchner rose to power by consciously cultivating nationalistic, anti-gringo sentiment. Several banks tied to U.S. interests have been hit by small bomb attacks in recent months. For a country with as much to be proud of as Argentina, that style of politics is, quite frankly, anachronistic and unworthy.
Last week the wife of the President, Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, won a seat in the Argentine senate, defeating the wife of former President Duhalde. Both are from the Peronista movement, though from opposing factions of the fractious "Justicialista" Party.
The Bolivian elections that had been scheduled for December 4 have been postponed because of the continuing dispute over whether to use the most recent census figures in apportioning legislative seats. The highland provinces, including La Paz, would lose strength if the change is made in accord with the constitution. Since that is where leftist leader Evo Morales draws his greatest strength, however, his followers are threatening more strikes and protests if they don't get their way. The country teetered on the brink of civil war earlier this year, and could be headed in that direction once again. Monday's Washington Post had a background story by Monte Reel on Morales's grievances about social exploitation. "He said the squabble over congressional seats was calculated to derail his campaign and stop a wave of anti-globalization spreading through South America." Sadly, there probably millions who believe him. Political instability will lead to capital flight, leading to more poverty, leading to ...
President-for-life Hugo Chavez declared that Halloween is an example of the American "culture of terror." He explained that having kids dress up as witches "is contrary to our ways." See CNN.com. He always manages to stretch some thinly plausible argument -- in this case, the "menace of cultural imperialism" -- into something beyond absurd. I don't discount the sensitivity entirely, however. I was surprised to find that Peruvians were picking up on Halloween customs when I lived there several years ago.