Willamette World News

Willamette World News

RSS Feed for This PostCurrent Article

If America Throws You Lemons, Make Argentinian Lemonade

By Fernanda Oliver, Spanish Language Assistant

*The following article is based on my sole opinion and does not aim at tokenizing Argentinian people.*

It is a well-known fact that politics and soccer are hot topics in Argentina, so most people try to avoid them. Yet more often than not, we see a Boca vs River¹ or Peronistas vs Radicales².

Similar to the United States, Argentinians choose a president every four years. Thus, for a couple of months we see candidates in and out of public debates, news about their strengths and weaknesses all over the media, until one day we are summoned to make a final decision; it all comes down to the act of suffrage, and it was not until our last elections that Argentinian people learned the importance of their votes.

November 2015, Argentina’s presidential election took place. We found ourselves choosing the lesser of two evils; or at least that’s how I perceived people felt at that moment. We had to decide between a seemingly popular government (Kichneristas-seudoperonistas) or a government of change³ led mostly by radical politicians and business men. While one of the candidates promised to continue working on a popular, inclusive political basis (that had been failing), the other offered a change, a change based on a neoliberalist policy. It was the first time that I knew how significant my vote was. However, things do not always turn out to be the way we expect or want them. Argentina chose a change³, a right-centered government led by Mauricio Macri (our current President) who happens to be a very successful businessman. Does that sound familiar?

American déjà vu: just like Argentina, the United States presidential election was characterized by the nomination of two candidates whose campaigns were based on completely opposing ideas and political projects. While Hillary Clinton represented the perpetuation and improvement of Obama’s legacy, Donald Trump offered a more protectionist point of view along with an obscure background of xenophobia, discrimination, and intolerance. Brutal honesty or complete stupidity would describe the American presidential debates.

Against all forecasts, people chose the Republican point of view. Americans opted for the red ribbon that came along with Donald J. Trump. That only shows that, just as many Argentinians, many Americans do not know better when it comes to exercise our legitimate right to suffrage.

What is more, not only Argentina’s and the United States’ political campaigns and presidential candidates show similarities and parallelisms, but also their people. The voters show correspondences in the way they chose, in the manner they approached information, which was in my opinion extremely superficial and barely skimming the surface of the iceberg. Trump was explicit and transparent in his intentions for America and the changes he wanted to make. Trump told, warned, everyone about what he is capable of; he has been proven to be racist, abusive, and an extremist. And still people chose him. I think what people failed to foresee were the future consequences of having such a country representative. Mauricio Macri, on the other hand, promised equality, inclusiveness and a more jobs, yet the only thing that has grown in Argentina during the past year are the unemployment rates. Typical, sad, Latin American cliché: a dishonest politician runs for president and wins the election. In any case, in Argentina or the United States, it is just worrying and we should be concerned about how people approach information, and how they process it.

Now, can we find light at the end of the tunnel? Can we make lemonade out of the lemons life is throwing us? Maybe.

After December 2015, my country has gone through a series of drastic changes, leaving society, especially people that chose the change, not knowing what hit them. Economy has always been one of the most serious problems to solve. Macri decided to open up Argentina’s economy to the international market again reducing importation-exportation taxes. This had a major impact on national industry (which had increased in the last few years); small national businesses found themselves once again competing with industrialized foreign products (mostly from the United States). Moreover, Barack Obama’s visit in March 2016 did nothing but enhance the trade relationship between Argentina and the United States.

However, after January 20, 2017 when Donald J. Trump became the new US president officially, the world’s society was shaken. Trump has declared himself to be extremely capable of making America Great Again. Along with that motto, we, as citizens of the world knew that many changes were coming. But, what we did not know was that such changes were going to be immediate and affect our societies directly. While Mauricio Macri and Barack Obama had reached an agreement about international market and getting Argentina back in the game of world economics, Donald J. Trump pushed us away again, because America First right? A clear example of this promise keeping and immediate execution of policies happened not long ago (January 23) when the United States cancelled the importation of lemons from Argentina, a deal that had been arranged by Obama during his visit in December 2016. Seemingly, Trump intends to buy and produce goods originally and entirely from the United States. That, in turn, will benefit the US national industry. Also, as an unintended collateral effect if Argentina cannot export its goods and raw material they would be forced to reactivate their own national industry helping reduce unemployment and improving our beaten economy. Isn’t it ironic that Trump’s protectionism may be good for Argentina’s economy? Of course, I am just speculating since I am not an expert economist and there is no guarantee that our president will see this as an opportunity for our country. However, maybe it is possible to find light even in the darkest of places; or to make lemonade out of returned lemons.

Moreover, what I find amazingly ironic is that Trump’s protectionist policies accord with those of Argentina’s last years of populism (Kirchner’s Peronism), while Macri’s capitalist point of view was a better fit with Obama’s policies.

All in all, elections in Argentina and the United States share many similarities. It is astonishing how two completely different countries ended up choosing the least favorite candidate after so many debates and displays of data. And right after each election, manifesting in active, massive protests. I guess people sometimes do not know how to handle information and end up missing important bits and pieces. Maybe next time we will have a good candidate deserving of our vote. And if that is not the case, I think people will know better to be able to pull for the greater good. Let’s be hopeful for the future and get ready for 2020.



¹Boca vs River: two opposed Argentinian soccer teams.

²Opposed political views.

³Cambiemos (Let’s change) Mauricio Macri ́s political campaign motto.

Trackback URL

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.