Cry for Argentina

A beautiful country imperiled by decades of abusive government.

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Yet for all the abuse they've endured at the hands of government, Argentines still are reflexively pro-government. Socialism and Peronism (now run by political and cultural elites who win votes by denouncing elitism) still rule Argentine politics. Market liberals are few and far between.

This is partly because of U.S. meddling here (the military junta was supported by the CIA) has soured Argentines to U.S. economic policy, and partly because Argentines, like many in Latin America, wrongly associate neo-liberalism with the cronyism, nepotism, and corruption that many developing countries have embraced over the years under the guise of "pro-market reform."

That said, Argentina is a beautiful country and an absolute steal for American and European tourists.

The 3-1 peso-dollar exchange makes it one of the better bargains in the world. A world-class meal in a city like Buenos Aires (or Mendoza, or Bariloche) with an appetizer, desert and a premium bottle of wine will run at most $30 or so per person.

Argentina is known for its beef, and particularly its steak, but its famous parilla barbecues will also serve up lamb, venison, wild boar, trout or a number of other animals raised in the vast, wild expanse of the Patagonia. (This is not a place for vegetarians.)

Buenos Aires offers culture and sophistication, but much of Argentina is pastoral, untouched wilderness and offers some amazing contrasts in geography. Sweep up the western coast on a tour bus, for example, and take in the magnificent vistas offered by the Andes and the Patagonian wilderness, from the striking Perito Moreno glacier on the bottom of the world to the gorgeous Lake District to the wineries of Mendoza farther north.

The North offers desert in the west and more tropical climes in the east, including Iguazu Falls, arguably the most spectacular waterfall in the world.

Though there's strong anti-American sentiment here, it's generally limited to U.S. foreign policy, and not to individual Americans. Argentines are mostly warm, congenial, and hospitable—even to American tourists (like me) who speak little Spanish.

For a country so literate and so rich in natural resources and tourist destinations, it's tragic that Argentina has fallen so far in the last century, and that so much of the country remains so poor.

Its neighbor and rival to the west, Chile, is thriving and providing a model for the rest of Latin America (with the policies themselves, if not in how they were enacted). Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that sound economic policy will arrive in Argentina anytime soon.

Radley Balko is a senior editor for reason. This article originally appeared at

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