Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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A South American nation with a population of around 40 million, Argentina returned to elected civilian democracy in 1983 after seven years of harsh military rule. In 2001-2002, the democratic political system experienced considerable stress as the country experienced a severe economic crisis, but ultimately weathered the storm. Current President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, elected in October 2007, succeeded her husband President Nestor Kirchner 2003-2007, who had made popular policy moves regarding human rights, institutional reform, and economic policy that helped restore Argentines faith in democracy. In her first year in office, President Fernandez has faced several major challenges, including an energy crisis in early 2008 followed by a series of farmers strikes that led to the defeat of her proposed agricultural export tax increase. More recently, the government has faced the challenge of dealing with the effects of the global financial crisis. The rapid decline in prices for several of Argentinas key exports will have an impact on economic growth and government revenue. U.S.-Argentine relations generally have been strong since the countrys return to democracy in 1983 and were especially close during the Menem presidency 1989- 1999. There was some friction in relations when the United States did not support Argentina during its 2001-2002 financial crisis, and under the Kirchner presidency when Argentina moved toward closer relations with Venezuela. There was expectation that the tenor of relations with the United States would improve under President Fernandez. This was thwarted, however, by the so-called suitcase scandal involving the arrest of four foreign nationals from Venezuela and Uruguay in Miami for the attempted delivery of funds to benefit Fernandezs presidential campaign. Nevertheless, the United States and Argentina continue to cooperate on many areas of mutual interest, including anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts.
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