World markets may tremble at Sunday’s decision by Greek voters to reject conditions of a rescue deal from creditors, but the leader of Argentina, which suffered a similar crisis more than a decade ago, boldly welcomed the referendum result.
President Cristina Fernandez, known for combatively defending her unorthodox policies, tweeted that Greece’s vote marked “a resounding victory for democracy and dignity.”
There are stark similarities between Argentina’s 2002 financial meltdown and the turmoil in Greece: rigid monetary regimes, creditors battling domestic politics to fix the problem and banking systems at breaking point.
In Greece, 61 percent of voters rejected a deal that would have imposed more austerity on their already ravaged economy.
“The Greek people have said ‘NO’ … to the impossible and humiliating conditions that would be imposed for the restructuring of their debt,” she tweeted. “We Argentines know what this is about. We hope that Europe and its leaders understand the message … that you can’t force anyone to sign their own death warrant.”
The South American grains behemoth defaulted on $100 billion in bonds in a 2002 crisis that thrust millions of middle-class Argentines into poverty. By the next year, helped by a massive soy crop, Argentina started growing again.
But the 2002 crisis continues to plague its finances.
Fernandez regularly blasts bondholders who have sued the country over the debt it failed to pay 13 years ago.
Most holders agreed to restructurings that paid about 30 cents on the dollar, while a group of hedge funds sued for full repayment.
The country defaulted again last year when a U.S. judge barred it from honoring its restructured debt without reaching a deal with the funds, which Fernandez denounces as “vultures.”
Argentina became one of the world’s fastest expanding economies after its default, growing at an averaging above 8.5 percent between 2003 and 2007, when Fernandez was first elected.
Since then she has ordered trade and currency controls that have slowed investment while government fiscal accounts deteriorate due to high state spending.