Group Blog -- Deona Declue, Eric Chastain, Brenden Sager

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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The key difference between Argentina and Chile lies in their economic strategies. The models each nation employs suit their political and geographic situations. Each country also has a peculiar heritage that also accounts for its behavior in the economic sphere. In terms of heritage and culture, Argentines and their government fancy themselves among the elites in the region. Argentines expect to be recognized as regional leaders and act accordingly. They expect to be recognized for their contributions in the sciences and their economic clout -- especially when compared to other Latin and South American countries. Chile, on the other hand, pursues a strategy that reflects its peculiar circumstances. Chile's most notable characteristic is its slender shape and mountainous terrain. Such terrain makes a Chile a more isolated nation, with the connections between destinations within the country characterized by difficult, mountainous travel. Chile's economic strategy in a certain sense reflects this isolated character. The nation's leaders seek to maximize their opportunities by dealing with countries on a bilateral level, rather than through multi-lateral institutions like the Argentines.
Economically, Argentina in many ways demonstrates a more favorable economic sitation. It is the world's eight largest country and has a long coastline like Chile, mountains, grassland and vast rivers. It has extensive network of roads, rail and electricity to facilitate economic growth. It competes in agricultural commodities all the way up the value chain to include advanced technological services such as nuclear power and satellite services. Nevertheless, Argentina must compete with first world nations while its endowment of wealth reflects a more third world status. Further, in the agricultural area, Argentina must compete against the U.S. and E.U. nations and their enormous subsidies. Thus, Argentina must be nimble in the spheres where it competes.  We saw this particularly demonstrated in national investments in its technological sector. Representatives from the state firm INVAP SE discussed how their local state government with national support created a company that competes in the nuclear business with successful niche applications. INVAP officials explained how they were successful in selling research reactors with applications in the sciences and medicine. Recently INVAP signed a $160 million deal to build such a reactor in Australia. Argentina has also sold technology to Peru, Algeria and Egypt.  Company officials noted that Argentina lacks sufficient capital and expertise to compete in nuclear power generation, but its efforts in the niche of research reactor construction demonstrate Argentina's nimble competitiveness and willingness to support advanced technological industries.
In addition, Argentina has also been very proactive with nuclear nonproliferation.  In 1967, Argentina was one of five countries in Latin America to sign The Treaty of Tlatelololco in 1967, establishing a nuclear  free trade zone.  This treaty was the first of its kind in the world.  In 1991, Argentina also signed ABACC (Brazil-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials).  The highlight of ABACC lies in its peaceful purpose.
Chile's strategy is markedly different. Officials from the Chilean foreign ministry explained how they've worked a series of bilateral trading agreements, especially with the U.S., that facilitates trade in their commodities -- especially currently high-priced copper. In recent years the Chileans have signed dozens of such deals while staying only peripherally involved with regional trading groups like MercoSur. Nations in this trading block are required to accept regional tariffs and budget restrictions, and the Chileans don't feel it's in their best interests to follow such a regime. This strategy has extensively advanced Chile's relationship with the U.S., which has gone beyond trade and into close military ties.
In contrast to Argentina, Chile is little developed in the area of nuclear energy.  However, despite previous territorial disputes, Argentine officials are ready to cooperate and sell nuclear technology with Chile.  Officials in Argentina are well aware that Chile has to import much of its fuel.  Argentina has much to gain in resources should Chile request this trade. 
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The first week in Buenos Aires was full of surprises. I found the city totally different from what I was expecting. I've travelled through Mexico and expected it to me more like that than typical American cities. The city of Buenos Aires reminds me most of is Washington, D.c. That was the first surprise.

Another surprise was how nice the people are. I've been dressing very "gringo," -- Pittsburgh sports Jerseys and a Chicago White Sox -- but never once did I encounter a single sentiment of anti-Americanism (that was definitely not true for Mexcio). Moreover, whenever you stop at a subway map and appear that you don't know where you going -- a porteno (local slang for the folks who live in BA) hurries to your aid. They are also a very curious people: in all of our tour groups walking around the city, the locals have no problem with walking right up in front of the group and listening to whatever the speaker is saying. Kind of annoying in an amusing way. I couldn't see an American do that. Well not without being aggressively confronted.

I expected the food to be a bit more spicy, but it's quite bland. One of my roommates wisely brought a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce and seasoned salt. These are necessary implements. There are many McDonald's, but no Taco Bells which is my preference for American fast food. There are no burrito surpremes to be found anywhere, or nachos. Starbucks is coming. But the cafe con leche here works in a pinch.

Finally, I was surprised to run into an acquaintance from Atlanta who's from BA. She showed me around a lot of the city, particularly the lovely parks near my neighborhood of Palermo. There's zoos, exhibition space and lots of green space. Though she's probably tired of me saying, "This is no not like Mexico." And, of course with parks come dogs and dog poop. Most folks don't spay/neuter their dogs down here either. I guess if I return to this world as a dog I would pick BA as the No. 1 place to live. I guess China last.

I'm now going to explore Santiago de Chile. Perhaps next I'll go to Uruguay and hopefully skiing while exploring the area around Mendoza, Arg.