Question 1: Political Paths- Similarities & Differences

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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-Similarities

      - Colonization:

 Each country was discovered in the same period which was in the late 1400’s/early 1500’s. Native Americans inhabited each country when European explorers arrived. Argentina and the United States had a series of conflicts with these Native American inhabitants including infamous campaigns such as Argentina’s “Conquest of the Wilderness” and the American “Trail of Tears.” In addition, the initial European explorers derived from Spain. However, the first successful American settlement was by English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia. Both countries had to endure the rule of a monarch- Argentina with Spain, the US with England. The revolutions for Argentina and the US occurred during similar time periods. Argentina gained its independence from Spain in 1816, while the US gained its independence from England in 1776. During the revolutions, each country garnered influence from France. Argentina’s path for independence was partially facilitated by Napoleon’s occupation of Spain. The Argentines did not want to be under French rule. In addition, Jose San Martin and other Argentine leaders saw that the French could defeat the Spanish and were inspired to also fight against Spain. The French were incorporated in the American Revolution by providing troops that helped the Americans defeat the British. The caliber of French reinforcement was particularly conveyed in the Battle of Yorktown in which British General Cornwallis surrendered.

 

-Present Conditions:

      Each country is supported by a large working class. Religion plays an important role in the contemporary politics. Argentina and the United States debate over the separation of church and state in arenas such as education, medicine, and family life. However in the United States, there is a formal/legal separation of church and state. Globalization is an important factor in Argentine & American economies. Argentina and the US continually look to expand and trade more globally and internationally. Both countries have an elected President which acts as the commander-and-chief of the military.

 

-Differences

      -Colonization:

 Argentina’s name comes from the Latin word Argentums, which means silver… and money is precisely why Argentina was founded and colonized. Spanish explorers came to Argentina with the sole purpose of finding lands to obtain resources that would make themselves and Spain wealthy. Consequently, all of the settlers that came to Argentina, (Spanish and otherwise) came with the intention of not remaining permanently. The United States was founded by English settlers who were seeking religious refuge. They came with the intention of establishing a permanent residence in a country where they could practice their methods of life freely. Wealth was not their top priority. The American settlers brought their families as opposed to the Argentine settlers who only came by themselves or select members of the family that could work/harvest.

 

 

-Present:

      The political parties in Argentina are more extreme and polarized. Argentina consists of extreme rightists as well as socialists and extreme leftists. There rarely is a middle/common ground in any issue. In the United States, politics are more centralized. Although there are different political parties, there are many similarities and theories that bind them all. The individual’s belief and involvement in politics is very prevalent in Argentina. There are many mass demonstrations and political activism that directly affect the outcome of daily activities and political affairs. An example of this is the continual protest for the Desparacedos, who are the people that went missing during the Argentine “Dirty War.” Argentina has endured much political upheaval. The country has undergone 7 coup d’etats. These coups have been facilitated by the fact that with each new government, Argentina has tried to “restart.” In essence, Argentina has not tried to evolve their policies. Instead of building on former governments or revising them, they try to totally start over and form new governments and procedures. In the United States, there has been a history of amending and evolving previous laws and policies. This is in order to continually improve and somewhat “learn from the past.” Sports also are very important in Argentina. Soccer unites the country. Violently opposing sides will come together in the name of standing behind a united soccer team. In the past, the government has even used soccer teams, tournaments, and players as tools for propaganda.

 

Ivan, Hannah & John’s “Final Thoughts”:

      Both countries have the potential for a prosperous future. The United States will continue to argue about the same issues. However, with the acknowledgement of our past history, we will most likely still maintain a steady government with somewhat stable living conditions. The future of Argentina can go in two directions. It can either improve or stay the same. This depends on whether or not the country can learn from the past and adapt to current conditions. If Argentina continues to radically change its government after each new president, it cannot escape the infinite loop of instability and polarization.

 

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Background Information/ What’s At Stake:

            -Overview:

Argentina and Uruguay are neighboring countries with a long, allied history. They are both members of Mercosur and have fought to unite all the countries of South America. Currently, Uruguay is building two large cellulose factories sponsored by Finnish and Spanish companies respectively. This is a multi-billion dollar venture that could pull Uruguay out of its current economic funk. This investment is causing a huge dispute between the two countries with Argentina vehemently opposing the construction of the pulp mills.

            -The Issue:

            The pulp mills will be built on the Uruguayan bank of the Eponymous River which forms the border between Argentina and Uruguay. Argentines are claiming that the construction of the pulp mills will cause environmental and health hazards such as acid rain, water pollution, increase in the likelihood of disease, and hurt local tourism, faming and fishing.

Arguments:

            -Team Uruguay:

                        Uruguay argues that they cannot pass up this economic opportunity. The country has suffered great economic loss since 1998. Newly elected President Tabaré Vázquez, sees these pulp mills as a method to take his country to an upward path of economic stability. Uruguayans feel that they have the right to invest in this deal due to the fact that the construction will be on their side of the river bank. Uruguay’s ties and relations with Finland and Spain are also on the line. If the Uruguayans do not go through with this deal, they will lose a massive amount of money that has already been invested as well as risk good relations with Finnish and Spanish companies. This is imperative for Finland as well because the construction of pulp mills is the biggest investment outside of Finland ever. Uruguay also argues that the committee under World Bank has investigated the conditions and has approved for the mills to be constructed. The Spanish and Finnish companies have also set up their own committees to inspect the environmental conditions as well.

 

            -Team Argentina:

                        Argentina considers the construction and operation of the mills to be an environmental hazard that will cause great health problems for the Argentines as well as effect their farming and fishing. Allegedly, this will cause acid rain and toxic pollution to the river. They argue that Uruguay did not sufficiently consult and communicate with Argentina about this investment. Argentina considers the river to be shared property because the river serves as a border. In their petition, Argentina states that Uruguay has an “obligation” to act in a manner that is “internationally responsible” to Argentina.  They are basing their argument off of the 1975 Statute in which Argentina and Uruguay agreed to consult each other when dealing with issues pertaining to the river.  Argentina also requests that construction cease until new tests and inspections are completed.

 

-John-Cho-Winn Court Decision:

            After much deliberation, the court has deemed that the country of Uruguay should continue with the completion of the pulp mills.  The whole situation is very complicated; however, this decision was made due to the following reasons:

-          the mills are on the Uruguayan bank

-          Uruguay has already run tests through World Bank and passed

-          The Finnish companies have previously invested in other mills like this elsewhere with no environmental issues occurring

o       The construction of these plants will be in accordance with other pulp mills previously constructed in Finland, which produce cleaner water than that in the surrounding environment. 

o       Argentina has no solid evidence that the environment has suffered with the construction of the other plants in Finland and other areas.

The court recommends that future economic endeavors on such a grand scale between the two countries needs be discussed between the two countries prior to any construction.  Communication should be a priority.  To ease the apprehension of the Argentine population, more tests need to be run to prove that these mills are environmentally safe.  Much of the argument coming from the Argentine perspective is based of the 1975 Statute.  However, this statute is incredibly vague, which is why this case is still ongoing.  In the future, a representative committee from both countries needs to clearly define the regulations outlined in this Statute so that issues such as this one never arise again. 

 

Ivan-Hannah-John’s Final Thoughts:

            In our professional opinions as brilliant students, we believe that this issue is a representation of why Argentina cannot rebound from its infinite loop of economic instability and polarization. It seems that Argentina is somewhat upset over a missed economic opportunity. The country is in great economic turmoil like Uruguay and could greatly benefit from the $1.7 billion investment. It is understandable that residents of Argentine town Gualeguaychú are not happy about the construction of the pulp mills, but this should not be a national issue. President Kirchner has other issues that are more pertinent. This issue has been used symbolically to unite the country. Uruguay is in a very precarious state economically and politically. Being locked in a heated battle with Argentina is greatly harming them. Argentina is aware of this aspect and needs to “stop being a bully.” In essence, they need to follow their own argument and act “internationally responsible” as an “obligation” to not only Uruguay, but for the rest of South America.

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