You don’t have to study Argentina long to understand that this country this country has seen more ups and downs than a Six Flags attraction. It continuously rides the waves of high commodity prices and wise export policies to often exorbitant wealth, only to come crashing down due to economic mismanagement and political turmoil. I have found that Argentines, cognizant of this instability, can be quite pessimistic about the state of their country.
I was having dinner with a local of about my age, my sister’s boyfriend, and got two laughs from him. The first was when I said that the US could win a World Cup during my lifetime, but the second was when I told him that I thought that Argentina could become the most important country in the Latin America within the next 20 years. While I would never go as far as to say that either of my assertions is highly probable, I think that faith in a democracy despite crisis and continued sound economic policy could bring Argentina into a period of sustained leadership among the increasingly unstable Latin American world.
The locals see it another way. For their apparent satisfaction with democracy, they really have very little faith in their politicians. When I ask my sister’s boyfriend, other Argentine students, or even the strongly-opinioned cab drivers who they are voting for, they all proceed to tell me who they are definitely not voting for. No one thinks very highly of any politicians, and they often write them all off as corrupt or as cheats, but they struggle to name a list that actually appeals to them, rather than the one they least dislike.
It is as though the years of betrayal by politicians have created a permanent sense of division between the policy makers and the populace. The people are aware that for the most part, the current Argentine political system is stable, but very weakly enforces its laws. One symptom of this lack of faith is the absence of patriotism displayed, especially in the youth. With such pessimism and lack of pride, it is no wonder that no one identifies themselves primarily as Argentine.
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