Looks like Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has to pull her jet up to the “cash only” pump!
Yesterday, Argentine thieves riding motorcycles stole $91,000 in dollars and euros that President Kirchner planned to take with her on a trip to the Middle East. Aides say the money was for presidential plane expenses for this week’s visit to Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey.
One would think that Cristina’s friends who sit atop so much jet fuel in the Middle East, of all places, would let her run a tab. Especially since Argentina, under her leadership, has decided to recognize Palestine as a free and independent state and has become Iran’s second largest trade partner in Latin America.
This is all the more ironic considering how President Kirchner’s government expropriated nearly $30 billion in private pension savings and owes more than $16 billion in debt worldwide notwithstanding her central bank’s ample reserves. But international creditors are right to be wary. Argentina’s 2001 default—the largest in history—has yet to be fully settled with its private foreign lenders due to the Kirchners’ hardball tactics. This has prevented further sovereign borrowing.
Recently Argentina has been hinting again that it may restructure its bilateral debts with the Paris Club group of creditors, an oft-repeated promise that has yet to be fulfilled in recent years. Argentina is ultimately the only G-20 country that remains cut off from international capital markets on account of such anti-market practices.
Argentina’s ranking on The Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom—now 138th out of the 179 countries scored—has declined steadily in the nearly eight years since President Kirchner and her late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, took power. It is by far the lowest ranked of any G-20 nation.