The Lessons Biden Can Learn From 'Banana Republics'

Desperate ruling parties villify opponents.

Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Kirchner

Accusations of lawfare, media manipulation, “fake news,” conspiracy, and ties to foreign influence have become standard in the United States since at least 2020 with the election and presidency of Donald Trump, when the FBI and intelligence services allegedly conspired with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to besmirch him and his administration.

With Americans’ confidence in government at an historic low, some commentators such as Joe Rogan have suggested that the country is beginning to resemble a “banana republic.” Therefore, it is instructive to see the parallels in countries south of the border, such as Argentina, that are exporting not only desperate people but also their politics.

Leftists and the Democratic Party are perverting language in order to win elections and remain in power even at the cost of silencing dissent and vilifying their opponents. The ruling party appears to accuse its opponents of the very behavior it has used against them in a method that could be called "mirroring."

This Latin-Americanization of U.S. politics is evident in the roiling conspiracy theories about Trump’s win and Clinton’s loss, and accusations that key government agencies such as the FBI and CIA have served partisan interests by failing to bring Hunter Biden to justice or release the names of all of those who visited the sex club in the Virgin Islands offered by the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Media talking heads exchange insults while hewing to a party line while claiming the mantle of objective journalism. And all of this has happened during outbreaks of violence resulting in millions of dollars of property damage and numerous deaths, much of it at the hands of anarchists and leftists in cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Minneapolis.

Magical people, such as President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump are thought to be the only leaders to have answers to the erosion of public confidence in democratic institutions such as the judiciary and the election process. A narrow margin in the Senate, and the possibility of a Republican take-over of the House in November, has Democrats looking for means to hold the line, even if it contributes to deepening divisions.

The sharp divide in the electorate was singled out recently, and exacerbated, by Biden in a speech from Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Standing before a lugubrious background last week, Biden said “Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

Biden said: “We are still at our core a democracy—yet history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader, and the willingness to engage in political violence, is fatal to democracy.” He added, “There is no question that the Republican Party is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.”

Nowhere in his speech, which was banned from prime time by the major networks, did Biden balance blame by mentioning violence at the hands of leftists, many of whom are presumably supporters of the Democratic Party.

A Failed Assassination Attempt?

At the opposite end of the Americas, a similarly entrenched political party led by magical people is accusing opponents of “hate speech” and treason. An embattled national political leader is facing serious charges in court but seeks to deflect them by accusing opponents of bad faith, and worse. And a still unclarified assassination attempt has only bolstered her appeal to masses of voters.

An apparent attempt on the life of Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Kirchner (69), brought widespread condemnation even while it also galvanized her supporters and exacerbated divisions in the South American republic.

On September 1, an assailant approached Kirchner as she was leaving her home surrounded by bodyguards and supporters. The 35-year-old Fernando Sabag, a Brazilian national, reportedly pointed a pistol at Kirchner’s face. However, no bullets were fired. According to local police, the pistol malfunctioned, even though it had bullets in its magazine.

"Cristina is still alive because -- for some reason we can't technically confirm at this moment -- the weapon, which was armed with five bullets, did not shoot although the trigger was pulled," said Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández in a televised address that evening. He termed it the “gravest” event in Argentina’s history ever since its return to democracy in 1983.

In the aftermath, the leaders of Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, and Russia expressed their solidarity. Pope Francis also expressed his concern, as did Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, as well as Argentina’s judiciary and political class.

Fernandez declared September 2 an official holiday, allowing thousands of Peronists to hit the streets in support of Kirchner and their party.

Failed assassin Sabag is in custody and awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder. Before the incident, he and his female companion posted images of themselves with the pistol found at the scene of the crime: a Bersa semi-automatic pistol, made in Argentina.

Cry, Argentina

Kirchner served in the past as vice-president during the term of her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, and then took a term as president (2007-2015) after his death. Both Cristina and Nestor Kirchner had long been leaders of the leftist wing of Peronism. Known popularly as “Cristina,” the current vice president was essential in bringing the allegedly more moderate President Fernandez to power in 2019 but expediently took the Number Two spot to bring together the various strands of Peronism: the populist movement centered on the Justicialist Party that was engendered by Juan Peron, an admirer of Benito Mussolini, in the latter 1940s. Peron frequently changed his spots, and later encouraged leftist militants and even eulogized Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

During her time at the helm, Kirchner legalized same-sex marriage, nationalized the YPF petroleum company, nationalized private pension funds, increased welfare handouts to the poor, imposed new taxes on agriculture, but failed to control private media and the judicial branch of government.

Under the two Kirchner presidencies, and under Fernandez, Argentina has taken a turn towards cultural Marxism while also further cementing ties to leftist Venezuela and Cuba, as well as warming up to China. With the latter, a number of trade deals have been worked out. In addition, accusations of corruption have dogged Kirchner throughout.

Argentina has seen continued division over the course of its economy, as well as issues such as abortion, which is available to any woman upon request in the largely Catholic country. Fernandez fulfilled his campaign promise by signing a bill legalizing the practice. Supporters of abortion, LGBT issues, feminists, and leftists have received support from the government, as well as foreign nonprofit organizations. 

Kirchner’s supporters have been holding daily multitudinous rallies to repudiate prosecutors’ calls for her to spend 12 years in prison for alleged corruption and conspiracy. This would also banish her from elected office. Clashes between Peronists and police led to four arrests, and injuries to 14 officers in Buenos Aires.

Just three days before the supposed attempt on her life, Kirchner spoke to a crowd of supporters outside her residence: “The violence was provoked by hatred of Peronism. They can’t tolerate Peronists' love and joy.”

For her part, Kirchner had already rejected reports about her legal travails as a “media judicial firing squad” over what she has termed a foregone conclusion of her guilt for an alleged scheme to defraud the government by granting public works and road projects to a friend. She is currently facing five active judicial cases related to allegation of corruption, illegal use and disbursement of government resources.

On August 29, she broadcast a lengthy YouTube video and stated: “I’ve said this before. They aren’t coming for me. They’re coming for all of you.” She added, “For the salaries, for workers’ rights, for retirees, for our debt: that’s what they’re after.”

She said, “Nothing that the prosecutors said was proven,” and added, “They were not accusations; it was a script and a pretty bad one at that.” Pointing to articles by La Nacion and Clarin, the major Argentine media giants she described as “the flagships of lawfare,” Kirchner denounced what she said is a “script” written by the media against her.

Luis D’Elia, a leading labor Peronist of leftist leanings, even suggested that the attempt against Kirchner was planned by her media and political opponents at the instigation of the American embassy. On Twitter he stated: “[Former President] Macri, Clarín, and the U.S. have made a coup d’etat in Argentina, taking over the Judiciary and brutally applied the Law Fare Plan. Hegemonic media demonize you and build up hatred, and the judges at the service of Macri, Clarín, and the U.S. will put you in jail.”

In The Economist, an op-ed characterized Kirchner as a “resilient and cunning politician” who has used Argentina’s typical “melodrama and political theatre” to frame her trial as a conspiracy by business, media and the judiciary to silence her role as a supposed herald of the poor: a role made famous initially by Evita Peron in the 1940s.

The newspaper noted that her waning core support now stands at but 25 percent of the electorate, even while she may again stand for the presidency in 2023. The Economist wrote: “Many of her opponents have claimed that the thwarted attempt on her life was staged to divert attention from the corruption case, although there is no evidence to suggest this. Peronism has rallied round her for now, but sympathy over the alleged assassination attempt may soon wear off.”

The Use and Misuse of Language

Among Kirchner’s critics is Juan Carlos Monedero of Argentina, an expert on the use of language and semantics in political discourse and author of several books who also has a YouTube channel.

Reflecting on the reactions of politicians and the media to the presumed assassination attempt, Monedero writes that the would-be assassin could “just be someone seeking 15 minutes of fame, answering to no one, albeit at the high cost of going to prison.”

Monedero also points out in an article published at his website that Sabag, the failed assassin, “was recently revealed to have been interviewed twice by media associated with Kirchner -- Crónica TV -- in the last month.”

Monedero writes:

“And some news programs are already suggesting that the gun he used looks like a water pistol. For reasons not less than these, but above all due to the systematic lies with which this government has handled itself for years, millions of people in Argentina think that all this could be a great farce.”

Monedero writes:

“The ‘assailant’pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire because, we are told, there were no bullets in the chamber. Is there any certainty that the gun that appears in the video is the same that is now in custody?”

Reviewing widely distributed video of the incident, Monedero writes:

“Kirchner does not appear to be frightened: she smiles, touches her hair, and continues signing autographs and greeting her followers for five minutes after the event. Was Kirchner alarmed about what happened? Those who were alarmed seized the assailant’s arm. Kirchner’s followers, not her bodyguards, seized the assailant. If this had been an assassination attempt, rather than street theater, how was it that 100 bodyguards not take note? It is inexplicable how Kirchner was not pulled away from the rest of the people. Her bodyguards didn’t remove her from a place of danger. How did they know that there wasn’t another assailant?”

Suggesting that if the attempt had been professionally organized, there would have been a second shooter, Monedero writes:

“If it were real, why wasn’t the assailant grabbed and violently thrown to the ground? Why wasn’t he handcuffed when he was put in the police car? Were Kirchner’s bodyguards fired for their “error”? Why would the assailant risk killing Kirchner while knowing there was no escape? Was he a kamikaze? Did he such intellectual and moral certainty to sacrifice his life for a country that is not his? Why would he risk everything to kill a political leader and former president of another country?”

He also asked how a violent extremist bearing Nazi tattoos “forgets to put a bullet in the gun’s chamber before shooting in the commission of a political assassination? The man attempts the action of his life but forgets to pull the slide on the pistol?”

The public incredulity about the investigation has been exacerbated, Monedero warns, by the police who bungled by erasing Sabag’s cell phone in an attempt to hack it.

But it is in realm of shaping a narrative about the alleged assassination attempt where Monedero sees a greater danger. He writes:

“Doubtlessly, there will be capitalizing and advantages sought in the aftermath. There is an attempt to portray an image of ‘democracy under siege’ in which all political actors must come to the defense of Vice-President Kirchner. There are a large number of political and media personalities who have shown solidarity with her. The entire national political sphere, and a great deal internationally, condemned this assassination attempt, if indeed it was.”

Commenting on the widespread condemnation of the apparent attempt, Monedero writes:

“Together they denounced the deed, and all appear to be quite certain that there really was an attempt against the Kirchner’s life. Beware: it is not politically correct to doubt that there was an assassination attempt. Anyone who has not repudiated it is now a suspect.”

According to Monedero, Kirchner and her followers have found the culprit:

“But also, Kirchner’s movement has counter-attacked and put into play its principal argument: that this assassination attempt is a direct consequence of media campaigns directed at Cristina: that she is not the perpetrator of conspiracy and corruption, but a victim of ‘hate speech’ propagated by legacy media: a supposed Nazi is the alleged perpetrator, while the Clarín media group and CEO Horacio Magnetto are the masterminds. The chimera of Nazism is reinforced, which – as has been proven – dulls the mind and prevents rational judgment. Thus, the government already knows that the intellectual authors of the attack are the media.”

Monedero writes:

“Apart from this, there is no doubt that Kirchner is carrying out a political strategy of self-victimization. In a meeting at Government House with representatives from different social sectors, she called for ‘building a broad consensus against hate speech and violence.’ Buenos Aires provincial governor Axel Kicillof also dubbed the attempt as a hate crime: "The proliferation of systematic campaigns of hate and violence, the unusual convergence of insults, grievances and unfounded accusations, promote a favorable climate for lone or programmatic actors but who are part of social, political and ideological groups.”

Monedero suggested that President Fernandez should have given assurances that police would “work as hard as possible to find the guilty parties,” and that he should not have declared a national holiday that served a “puritan sector” rather than the nation’s interests.

Monedero writes:

“As if by magic, all Kirchner supporters already know without a doubt that ‘the cause’ of the attack is ‘hate speech’ directed against her. Faced with an act of alleged violence like this, a massive march is summoned that only adds fuel to the fire. Are they denouncing violence, or are they creating a climate for violence? This is the same Kirchnerism that said ‘We are willing to spill our blood on the streets so that hunger does not continue in Argentina’ [so said leftist politician Juan Grabois], of the same Hebe de Bonafini who called for testing Tasers on girls, of the same Gildo Insfrán who throttled his people in recent years with the excuse of quarantine. They throw stones at cars trying to evade their roadblocks; they spit on photos of opponents; they spit on opponents (as Victoria Donda did); they threaten to ‘cut the throat of more than one,’ and threatened a prosecutor: ‘If his dentist doesn’t rearrange prosecutor Sergio Mola’s [the prosecutor in one of Kirchner’s cases] teeth, we will. Don’t mess with Cristina, damn you.’ But now they want us to believe they are Mother Teresa.”

“Conclusion,” Monedero writes, “Kirchnerism, ranging from its promoters of cultural Marxism and gender ideology, has been engaging in true hate speech for 20 years, including: hatred for open dialogue, hatred for farm workers, hatred for the unborn; hatred for the Armed Forces; hatred for police who do not bow to their demands; hatred for the family; hatred for man and woman; hatred for femininity and masculinity; hatred for the Hispanic-Catholic tradition; hatred for self, and hatred, ultimately, for God.

“But this, of course, is not hate speech! It is the ‘promotion of human rights,’ ‘empowerment of women,’ a ‘gender perspective,’ modernity, and progressivism.”

Calling for action, Monedero, writes:

“Let us not be held hostage to their ideology nor manipulation. We must understand that while they are distracting us, they are auctioning off the nation’s political and economic sovereignty and advancing on the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainability and putting the country on its knees before the secular altar of the New World Order. We must be able to make distinctions, to reason and think, so that they can no longer fool us as they have by preying upon Argentina’s intellect for more than 20 years.”

Americans are well advised to follow Monedero’s advice to his fellow Argentines. Before jumping to conclusions, Americans should consider the uses and misuses of language by the ruling party, not only on the part of politicians but also in the media they consume.

Topic tags:
Joe Biden Cristina Kirchner Argentina politics Buenos Aires leftism