As a longtime observer of Argentina who once lived there, I recognized Robert J. Samuelson’s “Why the financial crisis in Argentina matters” [op-ed, May 14] as a naive regurgitation of the government’s line, supported by two Washington think tankers.
President Mauricio Macri, who attended the same elite secondary school I did, has painted a picture that does not square with the facts. For 12 years, predecessors Néstor Kirchner and his twice-elected widow, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, pulled the country out of a crisis caused by an untenable policy of parity with the dollar. The solution was to default on foreign debt, mostly acquired in the 1976-1983 military dictatorship that kidnapped and killed thousands. Then, with strict currency controls, they successfully insulated Argentina’s economy, bringing down unemployment dramatically while launching Western Europe-style social insurance programs. Mr. Macri then released currency controls less than a month into office before even drafting a single fiscal budget, causing an unnecessary devaluation of Argentina’s currency, then massively fired public employees, hiked rates in every publicly controlled utility and disinvested in education, health and welfare. Currency exchange speculation by Macri appointees is still being investigated. Mr. Macri’s sole excuse is an inherited disaster that simply wasn’t there.
Cecilio Morales, Washington