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Column 012108 Brewer

Monday, January 21, 2008

Argentina's Pivotal Role in Latin American Stability

By Jerry Brewer

Argentina's newly elected President, Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner, has boldly emerged into a potentially treacherous
world political arena that could have ripple effects on Latin
America's immediate future. Within this global amphitheater lies
critical history making decisions that will be made that may
ultimately dictate the security of the southwestern hemisphere.

Is it too dramatic to assume her leadership role is this crucial
throughout the Americas?

Not at all. In fact, her candor must prevail over simple lip service
and smiles to weather the current storm of leftist agendas and
maintain democracy by example. Too, she must be willing and
stubborn enough to ignore the intimidating rhetoric from leftist
leaders, if this is her inclination for her proud country.

The ostensible contrast between democracy and the left in Latin
America is very closely delineated. Security must be the top
priority for stability, especially fledgling democracies and those
thinking of radical change.

Argentina was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world,
one hundred years ago. The 20th century witnessed a suffering
country of instability, recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal
and current account deficits, and high inflation with mounting
external debt.

Democracy was restored to Argentina in 1983.

With Argentina's rich cultural heritage the generally proud and
patriotic populace benefits from a strongly literate population,
rich natural resources, strong agriculture exports, and a
diversified industrial base. How these resources are managed,
in order to restore the waning confidence in the government,
rides on the performance of President Fernandez de Kirchner, a
former senator and the wife of past President Nestor Kirchner.

Mrs. Kirchner has been described as "a bit more diplomatic"
than her husband. Popular belief is that she will pursue a wider
and more active foreign policy by traveling to more countries
than he did. Her series of recent visits to the United States,
Mexico and European countries, among others, clearly indicates
a new resilience towards demonstrating a demeanor of being
effective, concise, and aggressive in research and policy
initiatives.

Clouds of potential conflict from a trust standpoint have already
manifested, and clear vision is being sought by her constituents.
Repeated scandals, alleging her husband’s previous
administration "manipulated the numbers" as to the inflation
rate, are an issue of uncertainty facing yet another Kirchner
administration. In addition, both administrations will be judged
by the perception of being overly friendly with the administration
of leftist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and his
perceived "generous" allocations of oil revenue.

Support for President Fernandez de Kirchner was especially low
in the capital city of Buenos Aires and its surrounding area,
where she came in second in the vote count.

Much of her support was generated by her calling for new
government reforms and an acceleration of human rights
investigations into past abuses carried out by former military
leaders. This is not a fresh or aggressive platform, but certainly
one that must be pursued. Failure of President Fernandez de
Kirchner to honor such a commitment cannot be practically
concealed or plausibly denied.

About 300 million of the 365 million people in South America
live under leftwing governments. A decade ago Latin America's
stronger democratic leaders could be counted on to rally against
authoritarian movements, with the help of the United States,
using the vehicle of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The United States is urging Argentina to resume an active role
in the OAS, United Nations, and Interpol.

Argentina is listed by the United States as a destination country
for women and children trafficked for sexual and labor
exploitation. Most victims in this human trafficking are brought
from rural to urban areas to be exploited.

President Fernandez de Kirchner will be reminded by a world
audience, as well as those in Argentina who are skeptical, that
the Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay border (Tri-border) area
continues to be a potential threat to the entire southwestern
hemisphere. Fundraising for extremist organizations, money
laundering, and narcotics and arms smuggling are prevalent in
the region.

Argentina has the opportunity to become a leader in zero-
tolerance of transnational criminals, terrorists, and traffickers of
illicit goods. They certainly do not need another catastrophe like
the terrorist bombings in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 in
which more than one hundred were killed and nearly five
thousand wounded. The President pledged her support to the
Jewish population after those bombings. This pledge must be
honored.

To counter a tumultuous past and a potentially problematic
future for Argentina, President Fernandez de Kirchner should
mind who she rubs shoulders with and reject leftist agendas.

——————————
Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice
International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm
headquartered in Miami, Florida, is a guest columnist with
MexiData.info. He can be reached via e-mail at
Cjiaincusa@aol.com. jbrewer@cjiausa.org