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A New Argentina

Something for the weekend.  A New Argentina from Evita.  From his earliest boyhood the songs from Evita were always a favorite of my son Larry.  He inherited that liking from his parents, my bride and I both enjoying Evita and playing the songs frequently.

A lovely musical, although the reality of Juan and Eva Peron was a disaster for Argentina and continues to be due to their political successors some six decades since Eva Peron departed this vale of tears and almost four decades since Juan Peron joined her.  The Perons mixed populism, corruption, dictatorial methods and a fair amount of style into a heady brew that kept Peron in power from 1944-1955  until he picked a fight with the Catholic Church by attempting to legalize divorce and prostitution.    When he attempted to take over the Catholic schools Pius XII excommunicated him.  Peron was sent packing into exile by a military coup.  His ruinous economic policies had sent Argentina into an economic tailspin and at the time his removal was largely popular.

However, in his absence the style and glamor of his regime helped sustain the Peronist political movement in Argentina and led to his eventual recall and a second attempt to destroy Argentina with a Presidency from 1973-1974 ending with his death at 79.  His third wife, Isabel, 36 years his junior, a former cabaret dancer, succeeded him as President.  The Peronists attempted to bill her as a second Evita, but she lacked the essential ingredient of style, and she was toppled by a military coup in 1976.  Since that time the history of Argentina has been largely a tale of misrule by the military and by the Peronists, an amorphous political group usually, although not always, noted for their  unicorn and fairy dust make believe fiscal and economic policies that bear some resemblance to the policies of the current government in this country.

What John Randolph of Roanoke immortally said about Edward Livingston fits Juan and Eva Peron to a T:

He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight.

The video at the beginning of this post is from the current broadway revival.  Here is A New Argentina from the original London cast in 1978:

And here is Madonna’ s take on it in 1996 (Mirabile Dictu Madonna was not terrible in her filmed version of Evita):

 

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

12 Comments

  1. One thing I do not understand about Argentina is that the country does not have a contextually large public sector deficit (see here)

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eclac.org%2Fpublicaciones%2Fxml%2F3%2F48593%2FArgentina.pdf&ei=FtGpUcH-L5Gx4AOg_4DABA&usg=AFQjCNHfEyKax1fnKQpFWXp54aFwf_K8iA&sig2=NeQYRTjrqYVJMjqBlTkw0g&bvm=bv.47244034,d.dmg

    and yet they are printing money like mad (and then falsifying price statistics).

  2. Argentina had the world’s seventh biggest economy in the year 1900. Not anymore.
    Argentina is populated, for the most part, by descendants of immigrants from Spain and Italy and being overwhelmingly (nominally) Catholic, and they approved gay marriage not long ago. Argentina should not be an economic basket case, but it usually is.

    When Pinochet took over Chile in 1973, ousting the socialist Allende, one of the things he did was to gather up the leftists and liquidate them. I make no excuses for this, but it is what Castro and Che did in Cuba to anyone who they thought opposed them. Pinochet did set Chile on a proper economic development path. I offer this as a reason why Chile is not bankrupt and has not enacted gay marriage (or legal abortion as far as I know).

  3. When Pinochet took over Chile in 1973, ousting the socialist Allende, one of the things he did was to gather up the leftists and liquidate them.

    Salvador Allende one 1.076 million votes in 1970. Amnesty International has put the death toll attributable to the Chilean government during the Pinochet years at about 3,200 (and fairly minimal after 1977, IIRC).

  4. Instapundit: “Socialism never works as a policy, but thanks to human traits of envy and gullibility, it’s often successful as a con.”

    Argentina is blessed with vast natural resources and an educated citizenry. My son went to engineering grad school in U Puerto Rico where there were numbers of foreign students from Central and South America. We had the honor of hosting two Argentine grad students when they visited NYC. One evening I asked why a country with obvious natural riches and blessed with an educated and energetic populace could be so economically backward. The answer was the government and corruption; whenever there was an election they could not know which way things would go.

    Walter Russell Mead cited at Instapundit:

    “Argentina and Venezuela may one day grow weary of being global laughingstocks and turn to sensible policies, but at least for now the socialist dream lives on.

    “The BBC reports that product scarcity has forced Venezuela’s ‘only wine maker’ to stop selling wine to the Catholic Church, which is already suffering from a shortage of consecrated bread as flour is increasingly hard to come by and wheat is only imported from abroad. Milk, sugar and cooking oil have also been affected by the country’s currency controls and centralized control of the economy or, as the government likes to call it, the “opposition-led conspiracy.” On the bright side, however, the country’s crippling toilet paper shortage is now (temporarily) under control.

    “Not to be outdone, Argentina is facing an economic collapse of its own in which inflation, import taxes, and import restrictions have made goods either impossibly overpriced or impossible to find. Worse, the Economist reports, restricted access to foreign currency has forced ordinary Argentines to buy dollars on the black market at nearly double the official rate.”

  5. Don, I hope that your admiration for the songs from ‘Evita’ doesn’t extend to that dreadful parody of the Salve Regina …

  6. The British Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden (as he then was) said of Peron that “his character was beneath his talents”

  7. Venezuela and Argentina are examples of the miserable history of Latin America after that region won its independence from Spain.

    Blessed with a favorable climate (in most places) and vast natural resources, political corruption, violence and hostility to the Catholic Church and the United States on the part of the Leftist Elite has been the usual formula from the Rio Grande river to Tierra Del Fuego for nearly 200 years.

    I am a student (not an expert) on Latin American history, some of which has occurred within the borders of the USA. It is very complicated, but Latin America usually succeeds in shooting itself in the foot while Southeast Asia, with few natural resources, shows how well capitalism can work.

  8. Venezuela and Argentina are examples of the miserable history of Latin America after that region won its independence from Spain.

    General levels of affluence in Latin America are about average in this world. They do tend to have malintegrated labor markets. Leaving aside some border skirmishes, there has been only one inter-state war since 1885, and that involved only two countries. There has been a great deal of intramural political violence (in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, and Nicaragua, especially). Street crime is a wretched menace bar in Chile. The place could be better and could be worse.

  9. I recall a common, if rather cynical, saying in the City of London – “Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be”

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