In our last installment, we commented on the Argentine Republic’s recent immigration reforms. That rather anodyne change prompted the Argentine security minister to have to deny that a wall with Bolivia was in the cards. Now it seems that the American press has ingenuously picked up on the hysteria of its Argentine counterparts, with the New York Times reporting, “Argentina’s Trump-Like Immigration Order Rattles South America.”
The story is fine; the headline is misleading. First, the rest of South America does not care. President Macri is not President Trump, picking needless fights with the neighbors.
Second, the actual content of the decree (which we discussed here) is lukewarm by any standard.
Third, unlike our presidential decrees, this decree is neither of doubtful legality, poorly-drafted, nor partisan.
What is true, though, is that Macri’s ties to Trump are bringing him under greater scrutiny than he would face otherwise. Trump damages every Latin American leader who tries to make nice: in Macri’s case, the damage came from rumors that the U.S. president-elect asked him to expedite a building permit. (Go google it.) The irony is that the tumult is pushing the Argentine Republic farther from the United States. The country now wants closer ties with Mexico. Macri haswanted to reduce Chinese influence; now he is accelerating contracts with them for nuclear power plants.
Of course, the U.K. has also managed to score an own-goal as far as Argentina is concerned. The Falkland Islands are single-minded in wanting to preserve their access to the European market, for obvious reasons. But should they fail, then Argentina now stands ready to offer them access to Mercosur. That will not lead to an Argentine takeover if the Falklanders accept, but it would be one hell of a British own-goal.
Finally, Buenos Aires has been consumed by the debate over the tetazo: a march by Argentine women to protest unequal treatment under the law. It was not really about the right of women to go topless, although that law is and should be a focal point for unequal treatment. Differential laws like that are stupid and unjust. For example, a serious law would ban people from going shirtless in public spaces, with an exception for those who need to breast-feed children. But neither Argentina nor the United States, sadly, is a serious country in this respect ... and over subjects far more grave than what you can or cannot wear in public. Sometimes that needs to be pointed out by something that appears to be non-serious which is most certainly not.