Otras inquisiciones

One (this one in particular) does not know much about Argentina, and what he knows is at second hand, and from not much reading. Indeed, my Argentine Spanish “sucks,” as I must assume from a condemnation of my continental Spanish, if I understood one of my Spanish interlocutors. My Argentine reading is entirely in English, and consisted of Jorge Luis Borges — especially when I was a teenager. There is not much to add to it, although I recall Idle Days in Patagonia, by William Henry Hudson, which was one of my many influences in naming The Idler (thus).  Too, there was a gentleman named Adolfo Bioy Casares, who wrote a book entitled La Invencion de Morel. It is about a fugitive from Argentina on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, visited by many vividly illusory figures. This struck me as the ideal representation of a South American country.

But then I retrieve the sailor Vito Dumas, who single-handedly circumnavigated the planet in the ruta imposible of the roaring ‘forties (if not furious ‘fifties) of that other hemisphere. He eloped with my attention about forty years ago. His ship, an under-equipped thirty-foot ketch, seemed a still more whimsical place of exile. He was doing the right thing — avoiding politics during the Second World War — and didn’t carry a radio lest he be arrested (somewhere near Antarctica) as a spy. (Note to self: get rid of cell-phone.)

So you see, I am an expert on Argentina after all, having without visiting heard such interesting information as that Buenos Aires contains the prettiest girls in the whole world. This from a man whose objectivity was assured, because he was prejudiced against all the inhabitants of Argentina, and considered them all, and the women especially, to be corrupt and inclined to criminality.

Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, known to the over-familiar as “CFK,” is a notorious example. An ex-president, and the widow of the ex-president Néstor Kirchner, she is one of the many “Peronists,” or “Justicialists,” who infest that country (as Liberals do in Canada). They are the fanatic champions of “social justice” — which I am unambiguously against — together with a species of economic perversity. Readers may remember her as a frequent visitor to the Vatican, when she was irremovably in power, and thus as one of the presumed intimates of Pope Francis.

Having strayed out of power, she is now the compelled visitor of some district attorney in Buenos Aires, who wishes to put her away, for twelve years or so, in a common prison, for her first billion dollars of road contracts, and has three tonnes of paper to give his accusations weight. My chief Argentine correspondent reports some “argy-bargy” (noisy quarrelling) in his neighbourhood and expects more. He tells me that another hundred billion (Yankee) dollars of dubious Argentine government payouts have yet to be contested.

This is the problem with presidents of banana republics such as Argentina or the United States. They tax us as long as we can be found breathing, then give most of the money away to their agents and supporters, who must be equally corrupt (though on a smaller scale).

But power politics (is there any other kind?) is so tedious. Surely anyone who has been president of anything should be in gaol by now.