Comprehension check 1 Why did Mr Blanco die?
a because he was poor
b because his bank account was frozen
c because he was rich
2 How much food does Argentina produce?
a enough to feed its population
b enough to feed its population ten times over
c not enough to feed its population
3 Who are demonstrating outside the Presidential Palace every day?
b young ladies
c old ladies
S p a re a tear for A rg e n t i n a
L E V E L O N E
E L E M E N TA RY
are demonstrations against the
Duhalde. The people in the demon-
strations are not young students, but
elderly ladies from Buenos Aires’
high society. A rgentina's middle
class is now poor and angry. Very
No one imagined this would happen
in the mid-90s, when the Peronist
president, Carlos Menem, con-
trolled A rgentina's hyper- i n f l a t i o n
and introduced many economic
reforms. Menem removed exchange
controls, privatised large sections of
Argentina's state-owned firms and
opened up the country to foreign
competition. He also fixed the
exchange rate against the dollar at
one-to-one. As a result, inflation fell
from 5,000% a year in the late 1 9 8 0 s
to almost zero in the early 90s.
But there was also a negative side.
One-to-one with the dollar was
good for Argentina when the US
dollar was falling, as it did for the
first half of the 90s, because that
meant that Argentinian exports to
the rest of South America and
Europe were very cheap. But from
1995, when the dollar began to rise,
everything changed. A rg e n t i n i a n
exports became very expensive.
President Duhalde now has to find a
way to unfreeze bank accounts,
give compensation to the banks for
the money they have lost, and also
satisfy the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) that hyper-inflation will
not return to Argentina. The IMF
wants to help A rgentina but, in
return, Argentina will have to accept
some conditions that will be unpop-
ular with its people.
Argentina is a rich and cultured
country. It feels humiliated. People
believe that the economic situation
will get worse before it gets better.
History shows us that the combina-
tion of a middle class that has lost
its wealth and a working class with
nothing to lose can easily lead to
revolution. That is the real worry. To
lose a football match is not a
t r a g e d y. What is happening in
Argentina now is a tragedy.
The Guardian We e k l y 1 3 - 6 - 2 0 0 2 ,