Reposted from Marxmail
If anyone had any doubts about whether Argentina’s early repayment of
IMF loans to rid itself of its IMF shackles is A Good Thing, these can
now be put to rest.
The New York Times has an editorial, I mean news article, by Larry
Rohter explaining what’s wrong with it.
“As Argentina’s Debt Dwindles, President’s Power Steadily Grows,” the
article’s headline says, and while making it personal about Kirchner is
a curious way to do it, it is at least a confession that, yes, getting
rid of the IMF does restore the sovereignty of the Argentine government.
The debt repayment, Rohter said, “is an important symbolic milestone and
just one of several recent signs that President NÃ©stor Kirchner appears
to be concentrating more power in his own hands and steering his
government to the left.”
Since winning the mid-term elections in October, Rohter complains,
Kirchner “has also moved to establish an alliance with Venezuela’s
populist leader,” replacing a relationship with Washington that “was so
close that one president, Carlos SaÃºl Menem, called it ‘carnal.’”
Exactly. And guess who got screwed in that “carnal” relationship.
Rohter complains that although Kirchner was elected “less than a quarter
of the popular vote” he “now enjoys record levels of public support – 75
percent or more, according to recent polls – that allow him to do
largely as he pleases.” One could hardly find a better example of the
tendentiousness of hacks like Mr. Rohter than this sentence. Quite
evidently what displeases Rohter isn’t that Kirchner does as Kirchner
pleases, but as pleases the Argentine nation.
And then there’s Kirchner’s totalitarian abuse of the poor and
downtrodden, for example, Shell Oil Company: “an inflationary surge is
now threatening, and Mr. Kirchner has responded in statist fashion,
trying to impose price controls on certain essential products.” Note
that: he is trying to impose “statist” “price controls.”
This is, of course, a threat to that most cherished of bourgeois
freedoms, the freedom to gouge.
“He first used that weapon in March,” Rohter reports, “when he urged
Argentines to buy ‘nothing, not even a can of oil’ from Shell after
company executives ignored his suggestion that they not raise prices.”
So there we have it, the brutal Kirchner persecuting a little,
defenseless oil monopoly by suggesting that people violate their sacred
obligation to buy, buy and buy and only from imperialist monopolies at
whatever price the monopolist tries to impose. But where, pray tell, are
the “statist” “controls”?
“Late in November, as a prelude to negotiations to control increases in
food prices, he blasted owners of two of the country’s biggest
supermarket chains, warning them to ‘stop extorting us.’ Supermarkets
then agreed to temporary price freezes that are to expire early in 2006,
but economists said they feared that the accords might be a prelude to
more systematic controls if inflationary pressures did not abate.”
Finally, we’ve found the “statist” price controls — in the imagination
of economists who go unnamed and therefore might well be as imaginary as
Moreover, having been in the foreign correspondent racket for a while
myself, and having spent a lifetime as a journalistic hack, I’m willing
to lay even money that those economists –if they exist at all– are to
be found at the U.S. embassy, the IMF or some other imperialist
Why do I say this?
Because Rohter doesn’t say “Argentine economists” and he hides their
identity without as much as saying it is at their request. If they were
Argentine economists who asked not to be named, Rohter would certainly
have said that, just to add to the picture of the creeping totalitarian
nightmare that results from not being in an IMF straitjacket.
But if they were Argentine economists willing to be named –and my
experience is that members of the professoriat and similar are quite
eager to have their names appear in print or on air–, Rohter would have
had every reason to name them in order to further cultivate them as
sources and just to add to the overall credibility of his account,
especially after the recent scandals at the Times over unnamed sources.
That’s what he does with a college prof he quotes a couple of times,
“Juan Carlos Torre, a political scientist at Torcuato di Tella
University here who has written extensively on Peronism, the nationalist
movement formed in the mid-1940′s by Juan Domingo PerÃ³n with strong
working-class support.” Rohter lards it on pretty thick.
I don’t know about the Argentine economists, but I heard on the TV the
other day the head of an Argentine investment firm, who is a commentator
on the largely neoliberal CNN en EspaÃ±ol nightly financial news show,
praising Kirchner and also Lula for breaking with the IMF.
Then, of course, there’s the inevitable accusations of attacks on
Freedom of the Press.
“In a report on what it called ‘indirect censorship,’ the Association
for Civil Rights warned this month that ‘the current government has made
control of national media content a priority that it pursues with
systematic vigor, subjecting the media to a behind-the-scenes executive
Sounds pretty juicy, but if you were expecting details about midnight
visits to journalists and anonymous threatening phone calls and so on,
forget it. Rohter offers no details, none at all.
I was so intrigued that I went to look for this outfit’s web page. On
Googling the Spanish name, the top hit was for the Open Society Justice
Initiative, headed by Aryeh Neier and funded by George Soros’ Open
When I eventually got to the Argentine site, I found the report Rohter
mentions, except that it is attributed to not just the Association for
Civil Rights but by it and –yep, you guessed it– the Soros-financed
Open Society Justice Initiative.
We should be clear: in describing the report’s provenance, Rohter lied.
It isn’t like Rohter really had a choice on the matter. He could either
accurately describe the report as being from co-authoring organizations,
or he could falsely attribute it to only one body, which is what he did.
But there is more.
The report was done in both English and Spanish. And both sets of PDF
files clearly indicate it is published only by the Open Society
Institute, it is copyrighted only by the Open Society Institute, and in
the ISBN and catalogue information box on the copyright page of one of
the Spanish version, the author is listed solely as the Open Society
Institute. (The English version doesn’t have that box.)
On this basis you could, arguably, present it solely as the OSI’s
report, and leave what seems to be an Argentine branch office out of it,
*but not the other way around.* Of course, to know this you’d have to
have downloaded the report and gone beyond the 15 or 20 words on the
cover and title page to the following one.
Also the English title is *completely different* from the Spanish one:
in Spanish it is called “Subtle censorship,” but in English it’s “Buying
the News.” And that’s really what most of the report is about.
“We found an entrenched culture of pervasive abuse by provincial
government officials who manipulate distribution of advertising for
political and personal purposesâ€”in clear violation of international and
regional free expression norms. The effects of such abuses are
especially insidious when public sector advertising is critical to the
financial survival of media outlets, as is common in many Argentine
provinces such as Tierra del Fuego, where on average, print and other
media outlets receive approximately 75 percent of their advertising
income from government agencies.”
Thus reminding us that bourgeois freedom of the press is, first,
foremost and above else, the right to make money. And that in this case
as in all things bourgeois, there is no law higher than the golden rule:
those who have the gold make the rules.
Which raises the interesting question of whether “the private sector,”
and especially the imperialist concerns in Argentina, themselves
practice political discrimination in placing advertising in Argentina,
as they do everywhere else. Because buried in the report summary is this
sentence, “A number of provincial and federal officials seek to justify
their abundant allocations of advertising to favored media as legitimate
subsidies that promote media pluralism.”
The report rejects that out of hand, of course, because from the point
of view of multibillionaires like Soros, the job of governments is to
follow their dictates, not counter their influence. So there is no hint
in the report of any effort to identify or investigate *corporate* and
*imperialist* pressure and favoritism. The use of *the nation’s*
advertising budget to defend the independence of the media from the
anti-national economic pressure of the imperialists and their local
allies is rejected out of hand, as would be expected in an
imperialist-inspired, financed and authored report.
So now we see WHY there are no details offered by Rohter on his
“indirect censorship,” and why the group that appears to be the real
author of the report is suppressed, because it’s just a lot more sexy to
throw around words like “censorship” attributing them to what sounds
like a legitimate local human rights group than to say that newspaper
publishers accuse government officials of playing favorites when placing
ads, according to a report done on behalf of the foundation of
gizillionaire speculator George Soros. Never mind adding that government
officials say they’re just trying to counter the undue influence of
foreign millionaires on the media.
Moreover, it takes unmitigated gall for the New York Times, which had
the information about the illegal Bush wiretaps for a year, in other
words, at the time of the last election, and *suppressed* it, to talk
about politically motivated “censorship” especially when, as the New
York Times’s own public editor notes, the wiretapping news was finally
printed only on the eve of the publication of a book by its own reporter
exposing the program, in other words, if the NY Times editors had
anything to say about it, the news would have remained not “fit to
print” and came out only to do damage control as its own coverup of
Bush’s crime was about to be exposed.
Perhaps Kerry would *still* have succeeded in getting Bush re-elected
with that news out, but it would not have helped his efforts any.
And then there’s this from Rohter:
“Analysts say the alliance [with Chavez] is more tactical than
ideological. ‘For someone like Kirchner,’ a native of frigid Patagonia
‘who doesn’t have an extroverted character, ChÃ¡vez is too tropical,’ Mr.
Torres [the College Prof] said. Others say Mr. ChÃ¡vez embodies the kind
of military-nationalist alliance that Mr. Kirchner finds repugnant
because of his own experiences here during the military dictatorship in
the 1970′s, when friends of his were killed and he was briefly detained.
“The election this month of Evo Morales, a ChÃ¡vez acolyte, as the
president of neighboring Bolivia complicates matters even further. Mr.
Kirchner has courted and encouraged the new Bolivian leader, but would
see his own popularity drop if Mr. Morales’s promised transformation
were to go awry and degenerate into class, regional or racial conflict
that, in the worst case, would send refugees spilling across Argentina’s
northern border and constrict the flow of natural gas to Argentina.”
“How can Kirchner be hanging out with that half-breed jungle bunny
Chavez and that uppity injun Morales? They ain’t even white!”
But when the Argentine President starts acting on the basis that the
interests and fate of his nation lie with the Blacks, “mulattos,” mestizos
and indigenous peoples of our America and not Europe and the United
States, it is a good day for all of Latin America.