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Argentina From Colonization to the Present Day

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    Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solias visited what is now Argentina in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580. They further integrated Argentina into their empire following the establishment of the Vice-Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port. Buenos Aires formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Argentines revere General Jose de San Martin, who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, as the hero of their national independence.

    Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federalist groups waged a lengthy conflict between themselves to determine the future of the nation. National unity was established and the constitution promulgated in 1853. Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and the integration of Argentina into the world economy. Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided this economic revolution. The investment, primarily British, came in such fields as railroads and ports. The migrants who worked to develop Argentina’s resources came from throughout Europe, but mostly from Italy and Spain. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government through a democratic election. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina’s expanding middle class as well as to elites previously excluded from power for various reasons.

    The Argentine military forced aged Radical President Hipolito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 and ushered in another decade of Conservative rule. Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s attempted to contain forces for economic and political change that eventually helped produce the governments of Juan Domingo Peron. New social and political forces were seeking political power. These included the modern military and the labor movement that emerged from the growing urban working class. The military ousted Argentina’s constitutional government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the coup’s leaders, and he soon became the government’s dominant figure as minister of labor. Elections carried him to the presidency in 1946. He aggressively pursued policies aimed at giving an economic and political voice to the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. In 1947, Peron announced the first five-year plan based on nationalization and industrialization. He presented himself as a friend of labor and assisted in establishing the powerful General Confederation of Labor (CGT). Peron’s dynamic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, known as Evita (1919-1952), helped her husband develop his appeals to labor and women’s groups. Women obtained the right to vote in 1947. Peron won reelection in 1952, but the military deposed him in 1955. He went into exile, eventually settling in Spain. In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power. They tried, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Peron’s return.

    On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in 10 years. Peron was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector J. Campora, to the presidency. Peron’s followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of the National Congress, which assumed office on May 25, 1973. Campora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. Peron won a decisive victory and returned as President in October 1973 with his third wife, Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron, as Vice President.1 During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out terrorist acts with a frequency that threatened public order. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge. Peron died on July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but her administration was undermined by economic problems, Peronist intraparty struggles, and growing terrorism from both left and right. A military coup removed her from office on March 24, 1976. Until December 10, 1983, the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta composed of the three service commanders. The armed forces applied harsh measures against terrorists and their sympathizers. They silenced armed opposition and restored basic order. The costs of what became known as the “Dirty War” were high in terms of lives lost and basic human rights violated. Serious economic problems, defeat by the U.K. in 1982 after an unsuccessful Argentine attempt to forcibly take control of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, public revulsion in the face of severe human rights abuses, and mounting charges of corruption combined to discredit and discourage the military regime. This prompted a period of gradual transition and led the country toward democratic rule.

    Acting under public pressure, the junta lifted bans on political parties and restored other basic political liberties. Argentina experienced a generally successful and peaceful return to democracy. On October 30, 1983, Argentines went to the polls to choose a president, vice president, and national, provincial, and local officials in elections international observers found to be fair, open, and honest. The country returned to constitutional rule after Raul Alfonsin, candidate of the Radial Civic Union (UCR), received 52% of the popular vote for president. He began a six-year term of office on December 10, 1983. In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for mid-term elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation’s most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, constant friction with the military, failure to resolve endemic economic problems, and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the Alfonsin Government’s effectiveness, which left office six months early after Peronist candidate Carlos Saul Menem won the 1989 presidential elections. As President, Menem launched a major overhaul of Argentine domestic policy. Large-scale structural reforms have dramatically reversed the role of the state in Argentine economic life.

    A decisive leader pressing a controversial agenda, Menem has not been reluctant to use the presidency’s extensive powers to issue decrees advancing modernization when the congress was unable to reach consensus on his proposed reforms. Those powers were curtailed somewhat when the constitution was reformed in 1994 as a result of the so-called Olivos Pact with the opposition Radical Party. That arrangement opened the way for Menem to seek and win reelection with 50% of the vote in the three-way 1995 presidential race.2 The 1995 election saw the emergence of the moderate left FREPASO political alliance. This alternative to the traditional two main political parties in Argentina is particularly strong in Buenos Aires, but as yet lacks the national infrastructure of the Peronist and Radical parties. In an important development in Argentina’s political life, all three major parties in the 1999 race espouse free market economic policies. Argentina held mid-term congressional elections in October 1997. The opposition UCR-FREPASO alliance made major gains in the number of seats it held and deprived the Peronists of an absolute majority. The elections are widely seen as setting the stage for the 1999 presidential race. The government’s pro-market policies remain unchallenged, but continued high unemployment and growing public concern over corruption have hurt the government’s standing in public opinion polls.

    The biggest problem that the Argentina’s economy has is inflation. Inflation is when prices of certain item or items increase and continue to increase. High inflation causes prices to rise faster than people’s income can handle. This hurts the Argentina economy because high prices means that people cannot afford to buy things like food, clothes, furniture, and other accessories they need for their household and also to survive, as well as making foreign goods cheaper. In 1998, increasing investor anxiety over Brazil, its largest trading partner, produced the highest domestic interest rates in more than three years and slowed growth to 4.3%. Despite the relatively high level of growth in recent years, double-digit unemployment rates have persisted, largely because of rigidities in Argentina’s labor laws. The Mexican peso crisis produced capital flight, the loss of banking system deposits, and a severe, but short-lived, recession in 1995; a series of reforms to bolster the domestic banking system followed. Real GDP growth recovered strongly, reaching almost 9% in 1997.

    When President Carlos Menem took office in late 1980’s to the early 1990’s, the country had piled up huge external debts on the Argentinean economy.Inflation had reached 200% per month, and output was plummeting. To combat the economic crisis, the government embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. However, high inflation rates beginning in the early 1970s and lasting into the early 1990s coupled with the 1988-90 recession have cut into the nation’s buying power and necessitated sharp cutbacks in imports in order to bring about a more favorable balance of trade.In recent decades Argentina has experienced both inflation and recession. It carries a massive national debt, which nearly doubled after 1978 and by the late 1980s had virtually crippled the economy. Argentina’s economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but the industrial and service sectors have also grown in importance in recent years. The inflation in the Argentinean economy was horrible and the unemployment in the economy for both male and female had increased.

    In 1995, the percentage for unemployment for males was 16.5%. The female unemployment is worst, at 22.3%. The average for unemployment for both female and male unemployment is about at 18.8%.3In 1997, Argentina was ranked 9th for the lowest inflation worldwide, which include parts of Europe the Bahamas, and some parts of Africa. Success in fighting inflation will depend on how open the Argentina economy becomes and the general health of the economy in South America as a whole (i.e. Brazil, etc.), which means the Argentinean economy has to rely on its neighbors around them like Brazil, for example, because its Argentina’s closet neighbor’s to help them out if they need it.4Chapter 2 – Governmental / Social Problem #1In Argentina, there are two major government/social problems. The first is human rights. Argentina has a history of human rights violations. The Human rights violations hurt Argentina in becoming a free country. The disappearance of citizens who disagree politically cause mistrust and turmoil in the Argentina government and hurt Argentina in its relations with other countries, like Brazil. Worldwide pressure has been applied because Argentina to mend its ways. The likelihood that human rights violations will be reduced is high because Argentina is striving to become a first world country like the United States.

    The dirty war is over, and human rights are generally respected in Argentina. Still, human rights violations are still a real problem in this country. The fate of 30’000 “disappeared” during the dirty war is still unknown and the Government, shielding itself behind two laws that pardoned all those responsible for the tortures and killings, has no plans to investigate what their fate was. Children (teenagers now), taken away from the arms of their disappeared parents, continue to grow away from their real families, not knowing their true identity. Journalists are harassed for writing articles offensive to the government, and sometimes even beaten up or killed. Conditions in jails are inhuman, beatings at police stations commonplace, and disappearances at the hand of the police are not unheard of. Prisoners often stay in jail for years before being tried for their alleged crimes. There is at least one prisoner of conscience, Fray Antonio Puigjan, who has been sentenced to twenty years in prison for his beliefs. Fray Juan Antonio Puigjan is a 71-year-old Franciscan friar. He was imprisoned in Argentina in 1989, after a highly politicized trial.

    According to the court, he was convicted because he “should have known” about a planned attack on a military base, even though no evidence or proof was presented as to this fact. Instead, his ideology and his religious beliefs were put on trial, and found guilty by the Tribunal that tried him. He is currently under house arrest after serving more than nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He suffers from arthritis and is frequently in great pain. 5The struggle for human rights has found a strong ally in the person of Judge Baltazar Garzon, who is investigating the self-genocide committed in Argentina against people whose ideologies differed from the military’s. Spain’s General prosecutor, – a man of known right-wing biases – argues that Spain has no jurisdiction on this matter, and has appealed to the National Audience. The National Audience should decide soon if indeed Garzon has jurisdiction to investigate the disappearances. Meanwhile, former-disappeared and the families of the disappeared continue offering their testimony.

    The Argentinean Supreme Court – most of whose members are closely associated to President Menem – has ruled that the amnesty laws preclude judicial investigations as to the fate of a disappeared woman. The ruling was highly criticized both by human rights organizations as well as by jurists and judges. A number of Argentinean courts are investigating the fate of disappeared children. Among them, the son of Sara Mendez, a Uruguayan woman who disappeared with her 21 year old son. She was later liberated, without her child who remains missing. The future is clouded for Argentina. The world is being swept up in an open economy. If Argentina does not change and provide basic human rights, they will be left out of the forward progress that the rest of the world is making in moving to a global economy. The “global economy” is more and more being based on open markets. Open markets only succeed when they are free make changes quickly to markets. Governments and societies that do not support basic human rights will not do will in the global economy.

    Chapter 3 – Governmental / Social Problem #2Another problem that Argentina is facing is that changing the culture and social fabric of Argentina from an agricultural, farming country to one that is more balanced in manufacturing and hi-tech in order to grow. Argentina is good when food demand is high in the area and the world. When it is not, Argentina has trouble keeping the economy good. When food production is down the country cannot meet its economic obligations to its own people and the rest of the world. The government is trying to bring manufacturing and hi-tech industry to Argentina. Success is dependant on many things like the education of the Argentina workforce, natural resources, and the general health of the economy in South America as a whole (i.e. Brazil, etc.).

    A key development in helping Argentina meet its external payments is the dramatic growth in Argentina’s foreign trade since 1990. Foreign trade plays an increasingly important role in Argentina’s economic development. Exports currently represent less than 10% of Argentina’s GDP. This percentage should rise as Argentine export competitiveness improves–a result of increased productivity generated by new investments, diversification of export products and markets, and very low domestic inflation. Grain output reached a record of over 60 million tons in 1998 as adoption of new technology and management practices significantly increased productivity. Fresh Argentine beef was exported to the U.S. market in August 1997 for the first time in over 50 years, and other export prospects improved tremendously. However, export growth slowed sharply in 1998 due to lower world prices for petroleum and agricultural commodities. Slower growth in Brazil also adversely affected Argentine exports, especially in the automotive sector.

    Meanwhile, lower GDP growth contributed to a reduction in the rate of import growth. Capital goods continued to account for over 40% of total imports. MERCOSUR, a regional customs union and emerging trade bloc (which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and has associations with Chile and Bolivia), is one of the largest and most dynamic integrated markets in the developing world. Close cooperation between Brazil and Argentina–historic competitors–is key to MERCOSUR’s impressive growth. Argentina’s trade with the other members of MERCOSUR has grown fivefold since 1991. (During that period, its total foreign trade doubled). As a result, Argentina will focus more attention on deepening MERCOSUR relations. MERCOSUR needs closer coordination of macroeconomic policies and better dispute resolution mechanisms. 6Ties to MERCOSUR will take on added importance in coming years. Argentina’s trade and investment have tremendous potential to grow along with hemispheric economic integration.

    The 1998 financial turbulence triggered by the Russian devaluation underscored that macroeconomic conditions in Brazil–Argentina’s most important trading partner–are important variables for Argentina’s foreign trade in 1998 and beyond. On an upbeat note, Chile’s association with MERCOSUR has improved access for Argentine exports to East Asia via Chilean ports. The U.S. registered trade surpluses with Argentina every year from 1993 to 1997 totaling nearly $13 billion. The annual surplus reached $3 billion in 1997–due in large part to Argentina’s continued demand for capital goods, as well as the recovery of the local economy. The U.S. surplus with Argentina could climb to a record $4 billion in 1998. This trend reflects the Argentine Government’s policy of encouraging modernization and improved competitiveness for Argentine industry. Argentina adheres to most treaties and international agreements on intellectual property. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and signed the Uruguay Round agreements in December 1993–including measures related to intellectual property. However, extension of adequate patent protection to pharmaceuticals has been a highly contentious bilateral issue. In May 1997, the U.S. suspended 50% of Argentina’s GSP benefits because of its unsatisfactory pharmaceutical patent law. In normal years, Argentina raises enough agricultural products not only to fill domestic needs but also to export surpluses to foreign markets. Of Argentina’s land area of about 280 million ha (about 692 million acres), slightly more than 50 percent is used for pasturing cattle and sheep herds, less than 22 percent for woodland, and about 4 percent for permanent crops; about 13 percent of the country’s land area is arable.

    The Pampas is the most important agricultural zone of the country, producing wheat and cereal grains. Irrigated areas, from the Ro Negro north through Mendoza, San Juan, Tucumn, and Jujuy, are rich sources of fruit, sugarcane, and wine grapes. Livestock raising and slaughtering are major enterprises in Argentina, as are the refrigeration and processing of meat and animal products; total annual meat production exceeds 3.4 million metric tons. In the late 1980s there were some 50.8 million head of cattle, 29.2 million sheep, 3.1 million horses and 4.1 million pigs in Argentina.7Despite declines during the 1980s, livestock export still plays an important role in foreign trade. Earnings from meat, hides, and skins in 1989 were about $1.1 billion, or about 11 percent of total export earnings. Argentina has long ranked as the world leader in the export of raw meat. Cooked and canned meats are increasingly important exports. Large quantities of wool are produced and exported; in the late 1980s, about 138,000 metric tons of wool were produced per year, out of a world total of about 3.12 million metric tons. About 40 percent of all sheep in Argentina are raised in the Patagonia region. Wheat is the most important crop. Argentina is among the major producers of wheat in the world. In the late 1980s, the annual wheat crop totaled about 7.8 million metric tons.

    Other major crops were maize (9.2 million metric tons), oats (620,000), and barley (266,000). Other major field crops include soybeans, sorghum, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sugarcane, cotton, potatoes, rice, mat, peanuts, and tobacco, as well as a considerable crop of grapes, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Situated mainly in mountain areas distant from centers of population, the 59,500,000 hectares (147,027,000 acres) of woodland are relatively unused. Among the most exploited woods are elm and willow, for cellulose production; white quebracho, for fuel; red quebracho, for tannin (used for tanning leather); and cedar, for the manufacture of furniture. Other economically important woods are oak, araucaria, pine, and cypress. Argentina’s fisheries, potentially highly productive, have not been fully exploited, although production increased steadily in the 1960s and 1970s. In the late 1980s the annual catch was about 560,000 metric tons-mostly hake, anchovy, mackerel, and dorado. Chapter 4 – Current Relations with the United StatesArgentina needs to have a better the relationship with the United States for economic reasons. Because Argentina wants and needs to become a player in the world economy, good relations with the United States is important Argentina needs access to the United States markets and technologies more than the United States needs Argentina. Argentina can provide the United States with natural resources and agricultural products. Argentina must also work on having good relations with its South American neighbors and the European markets. It is not a guarantee that Argentina has the political and social ability to open its markets to outside countries.

    The United States and Argentina currently enjoy a close bilateral relationship, which was highlighted by President Clinton’s visit to Argentina in October 1997. The efforts of the Menem Administration to open Argentina’s economy and realign its foreign policy have contributed to the improvement in these relations, and the interests and policies of the two countries coincide on many issues. Argentina and the United States often vote together in the United Nations and other multilateral fora. Argentina has participated in many multilateral forces deployments mandated by the United Nations Security Council, including recent missions to Haiti and the former Yugoslavia. Reflecting the growing partnership that marks ties between the two countries, on October 16, 1997, Secretary of State Albright and Argentine Foreign Minister Di Tella held the first meeting of the Special Consultative Process to address important issues in the bilateral relationship. Brazil is the economic powerhouse in South America. Whatever happens in Brazil, affects Argentina greatly. Even if Argentina does everything correct to have a good economy, if Brazil fails, then Argentina will fail also. Argentina does not have the ability succeed on its own. Argentina is working very hard to have a self-efficient and powerful economy. Argentina has all of the ingredients to succeed; however it will not be easy.

    In foreign policy, Menem has dramatically made partnership with the United States the centerpiece of his approach. Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the Gulf war and all phases of the Haiti operation. It has contributed to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide, and has offered to send peacekeepers to Eastern Slavonia and police to the international Police Task force in Bosnia. It offered to send a military medical unit to the Gulf in support of the effort to secure Iraqi compliance with United Nations resolutions. In recognition of Argentina’s contributions to international security and peacekeeping, the U.S. Government designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998. Menem is an enthusiastic supporter of the Summit of the Americas process, which includes Argentina’s decision to host the Second Specialized Inter-American Conference on Terrorism in November 1998, as called for in the Santiago Summit of the America Action Plan earlier that year. At the UN, Argentina is one of the U.S.’s closest collaborators. The Menem Administration supports the U.S. campaign to improve human rights in Cuba and joins with the U.S. in international disarmament efforts, the fight against international terrorism and narcotics trafficking, and efforts to control global warming.

    In November 1998, Argentina also hosted the United Nations conference on climate change. Eager for closer ties to developed nations, Argentina has pursued relationships with the OECD and has left the Non-Aligned Movement. It has become a leading advocate of nonproliferation efforts worldwide. A strong proponent of enhanced regional stability in South America, Argentina has revitalized its relationship with Brazil; settled lingering border disputes with Chile; served with the U.S., Brazil, and Chile as one of the four guarantors of the Ecurador-Peru peace process; and restored diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. In September 1995, Argentina and the UK signed an agreement to promote oil and gas exploration in the Southwest Atlantic, defusing a potentially difficult issue and opening the way to further cooperation between the two nations. In 1998, President Menem visited the UK in the first official visit by an Argentine President since the 1960’s. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay And Uruguay established the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) in 1991, and on January 1, 1995, formed a partial customs union with a Common External Tariff (CET) covering approximately 85 percent of trade. The CET ranges from zero to 20 percent. In 1998, MERCOSUR members hiked the CET by three points for most products.

    The increase is scheduled to expire in 2000. Initially, the government exempted some products from the CET, such as capital goods, informatics and telecommunications, to help support the modernization of the industrial infrastructure. However, in August 1996 tariffs on these items were increased to the MERCOSUR level. As a result, many non-MERCOSUR products entering Argentina now face higher tariffs. Chile signed a free trade agreement with MERCOSUR, effective October 1, 1996, but will not participate in the CET. Bolivia also entered into a similar pact on April 30, 1997. MERCOSUR is also discussing the prospect of a free trade agreement with the Andean community. 8Argentina signed the Uruguay Round agreements in April 1994, congress ratified the agreements at the end of 1994, and Argentina became a founding member of the WTO on January 1, 1995. Argentina’s military is for defense against outside powers, however it has been used in the past as a replacement for a free government. The military has often been the power for ruling in Argentina. That is changing now so that it is becoming an arm of the real government in Argentina. The military is in a more serving role today than in the recent past. The military is of great to benefit to Argentina. It provides education and skills and order for the Argentina government. If the military continues to support the Argentina becomes a first rate country.

    In elections in 1965, Peronist candidates made significant gains, although Illa’s party retained a 71-seat plurality in the lower house. Labor unrest continued into 1966, and the Peronistas continued to win victories in by-elections. The result was a military coup in June 1966. The junta that then took control named succeeding presidents, the third of whom, General Alejandro Augustn Lanusse, took office in 1971. In the early months of his regime, Lanusse began moving toward a return to civilian rule. He announced an economic program designed to hold down the inflationary spiral, and scheduled national elections for March 1973. The country became increasingly torn by violence, including strikes, student riots, and terrorist activities. The economy to was headed for a new crisis. The Peronistas had grown increasingly vocal, and they now nominated Pern for the presidency. He remained in Spain until after the date set for candidates to be resident in Argentina, however, and Hector J. Cmpora was nominated in his place. Peronistas swept the elections in March 1973, and Cmpora was inaugurated as president on May 25. Terrorism escalated, now joined by rightist vigilantes, with numerous kidnappings, soaring ransom demands, and killings. Divisions between moderate and leftist Peronistas also brought widespread violence.

    On June 20, when Pern returned to Buenos Aires, a riot resulted in approximately 380 casualties. A month later Cmpora resigned, and in September Pern was elected president, with more than 61 percent of the votes. His third wife, Isabel de Peron, was elected vice president. The strain, however, proved too much for the aging Pern. He died on July 1, 1974, and his wife succeeded him, becoming the first woman chief executive of a modern Latin American state. During her presidency, political and economic conditions deteriorated rapidly. In 1975 terrorist activities by right- and left-wing groups resulted in the deaths of more than 700 people. The cost of living increased by 335 percent, and strikes and demonstrations for higher wages were frequent. After repeated cabinet crises and an abortive air force rebellion in December 1975, a military junta led by the army commander, Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla, seized power on March 24, 1976. The junta dissolved the legislature, imposed martial law, and ruled by decree. For the first few months after the military takeover, terrorism remained rampant, but it waned somewhat after the Videla government launched its own terror campaign against political opponents. In 1977 the Argentine Commission for Human Rights, in Geneva, blamed the regime for 2300 political murders, some 10,000 political arrests, and 20,000 to 30,000 disappearances. The economy remained chaotic. Videla was succeeded as president in March 1981 by Field Marshal Roberto Viola, himself deposed in December 1981 by the commander in chief of the army, General Leopoldo Galtieri. Galtieri’s government rallied the country behind it in April 1982 by forcibly occupying the British-held Falkland Islands (called Islas Malvinas by the Argentines). After a brief war Great Britain recaptured the islands in June, and the discredited Galtieri was replaced by Major General Reynaldo Bignone.

    The Latin American Integration Association (LAIA), founded in 1980, replaced LAFTA as a more loosely defined entity for reducing tariffs on intracontinental trade. Between 1986 and 1990, Argentina signed a number of integration treaties designed to further reduce trade barriers between Latin American countries. 9With an unprecedented international debt, and inflation at more than 900 percent, Argentina held its first presidential election in a decade in October 1983. The winner was the candidate of the Radical party, Ral Alfonsn. Under Alfonsn, the armed forces were reorganized; former military and political leaders were charged with human rights abuses; the foreign debt was restructured; fiscal reforms (including a new currency) were introduced; and a treaty to resolve a dispute with Chile over three Beagle Channel islands was approved. Inflation remained unchecked, however, and in May 1989 the Peronist candidate, Carlos Saul Menem, was elected president. With Argentina’s economy deteriorating rapidly, Menem imposed an austerity program. During the early 1990s, his government curbed inflation, balanced the budget, sold off state enterprises to private investors, and rescheduled the nation’s debts to commercial banks.

    In 1992 full diplomatic relations with Britain were restored, helping to heal the wounds of the Falklands War. In 1993 President Menem reached an agreement with former President Alfonsn to amend the constitution to allow presidential reelection and to shorten the presidential term from six to four years. The measure passed in both legislative houses. In elections held to determine which groups would participate in drafting the amendment, Menem’s party won a majority. In January 1994, the country signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco, making Argentina a nuclear weapons-free state. Also in 1994, leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay signed the Asuncin treaty, which confirmed those countries’ intention to create the Southern Cone Common Market by the end of 1994. 10Argentina is moving to a better future. The recent trends point to progress in solving the nation’s dual problems of the economy and human rights. When president Carlos Menem took office in Argentina, the country had huge external debts. The inflation rate was increasing and people of Argentina couldn’t afford the basic necessities that they needed to survive. The inflation caused high unemployment in the economy and high interest rates. Argentina worked with its neighbors like Brazil to help fight off the inflation problem. Argentina’s debt is now reducing. If Argentina continues to move toward a more debt free economy, the general health of their economy will grow. The move from a farming and livestock kind of economy to a hi-tech manufacturing economy is gaining momentum.

    The nation of Argentina is also being progressive on the human rights front. The country is trying to cut down on the human rights violations that have been happening in Argentina during the recent past. About 30,000 people were missing during the so-called “dirty war”. The government of Argentina was shielding itself behind laws that pardoned all those responsible for the tortures and killings. The government is now becoming more open about those crimes. Argentina has all the pieces to become a first-world economy. However, they need to exercise their political will to make the changes necessary to do so. Most important is for Argentina to become an open society and economy. Second, they must improve their record on human rights violations. Third, they need to improve their relationships with countries like the United States and Brazil in order to grow and become great. They must also be successful in changing from being a livestock economy to a manufactured hi-tech economy.


    1. Encarta 98 Encyclopedia Deluxe Edition; Argentina (1998 Edition).
    2. State Department Country Reports –
    3. –
    4. –
    5. Argentina, A country Study: James D. Rudolph, 1985
    6. State Department Country report –
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    8. State Department Country Report – Exegy – CD Rom, 9810 Exegy – CD Rom, 98

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