Serious stuff

So far this blog has been mainly about me, my work, and the horses, but of course one cannot live in Argentina without being affected by the things that are going on in the country. Of course I knew about a lot of this, especially living in DC and working where I did, and now I see it in real life. The currency controls that president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner put in effect a year ago have caused the dollar on the black market to rise to almost twice that of the official rate. When I arrived, the official exchange rate was about 4.7 pesos to the dollar, and the black market, or blue dollar, 6 pesos to the dollar. Now, the official rate is a little over 5, while the blue is 8. Putting in currency controls seems like a surefire way to get a new crisis… Dollars can be obtained in two ways: if an Argentinean is traveling abroad, he or she can apply to exchange pesos to dollars at the official rate, however, one may very well be denied this right, or only be allowed to exchange a small amount. The other option is changing pesos to dollars on the black market, and for most, this is the only option. People regularly change this way, often simply because they know the dollar keeps going up so they are better off having their savings in dollars. This of course creates more pressure on the peso.

Inflation is another huge issue here. The government insists it is around 11% a year but independent economists estimate that the real number is at least 25%. And now that I do the purchasing for a hotel, I can see how difficult this is for people, as the prices of meat and other staples go up slowly week by week. Every day people’s salaries buy less food for their families. It is not easy. The peso dollar issue also makes imports expensive, so many things are difficult to get here.

As the guest hostess at the hotel (now manager!) I of course try to stay away from heated political discussions, although religion and politics are less of taboos here than in the US. But most Argentineans who come to the hotel express their dislike for the president and her politics, and I agree with them 100%. Fernandez is ruining the country and has a smorgasbord of bad policies, from the infamous currency controls to fomenting protests against the city government for instance, since they are with the opposition, or creating lots of new holidays to get people’s good will. She needs to go!! Unfortunately the elections are not until 2015…

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