TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Argentina, caught in economic depression, gets something to cheer in World Cup win

Argentina, caught in economic depression, gets something to cheer in World Cup win

Triumph in epic final match of tournament gives crisis-torn South American country a feeling of new hope.

An incredibly tense World Cup final, if not the best of all time. An extraordinary victory for Argentina that crowns the career of superstar Lionel Messi. A new hope for a country in deep crisis.

Argentina beat France in a penalty shoot-out after the match ended tied 3-3, causing hundreds of thousands of citizens to pour into the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate, chant and dance. The obelisk, the landmark monument of the South American capital that houses over 17 million people in its broader agglomeration, was quickly covered in a sea of people.

Some 15 blocks north of the obelisk, in front of the bar Locos por el fútbol (Mad for football) in the Recoleta neighborhood, some fans spent the penalty shoot-out praying, on their knees with their heads and hands down on the ground, only to then burst into frenetic cheers and tears.

"It's incredible. I'm out of words. This means so much to us," said Henrique Ferenz, who had followed Argentina's quest for a third World Cup victory with his son Ignacio in front of the bar.

"It reminds me a lot of 1986," he said, referring to Argentina's last World Cup victory under football legend Diego Maradona, and then added: "It's also such a huge relief, given the situation we are in."

Ferenz's words summed up a general feeling that has been growing in a notoriously football-enthusiastic but also crisis-torn country over the past weeks: As La Albiceleste advanced through the Qatar World Cup, reaching quarter and semi finals and ultimately the final against former world champion France, people increasingly grasped new hope and a sense of euphoria — a state that many in the country, which is marked by seemingly permanent economic crises and galloping currency devaluation, had not known for a long time.

Once, around 100 years ago, one of the richest countries in the world, Argentina has faced various economic crashes in past decades, but the recent years have been particularly bitter. Inflation reached nearly 100 percent this year, rapidly wiping out savings and many dreams, especially among the middle class. Those who can invest their assets in euros or dollars, which can be exchanged for Argentine pesos on the semi-legal black market at much better conditions than the official exchange rate.


In chants, people sang their national pride and cheered Messi

The left-wing government of President Alberto Fernández has been trying to stabilize both the currency and the economy by restricting or taxing exports of the country's main commodities — agricultural goods such as soy, meat and wheat — but critics say those protectionist measures have only aggravated Argentina's economic misery. On the streets of Buenos Aires and elsewhere, the number of homeless people and those desperately trying to make a living by searching trash bins for recyclable products has drastically increased in recent years.

Enter the World Cup victory, which seems to have, at least for a moment, eradicated the general feeling of frustration and failure that has long gripped the country.

"We are champions! The whole world is looking at us today! I cannot describe to you the emotion that I'm feeling," shouted Angelica López from Buenos Aires, as she was asked by POLITICO what the victory meant for Argentina, only to disappear seconds later in a crowd dancing wildly to drum rolls.


In chants, people sang their national pride and cheered Messi, the 35-year-old superstar of the Argentine team, who on Sunday achieved his long unfulfilled goal of crowning his career by winning the world championship — after many Argentinians, and presumably he himself, had no longer believed in it. In a high tension finale marked by dramatic twists and turns, Messi scored two goals and was once more a central playmaker.

"We are used to being beaten, that's why we know how to cope with good and bad times," Argentinian trainer Lionel Scaloni told national TV. "Being at the top is something unique, an incredible enjoyment."

Although it's unlikely that the victory as such will make a tangible impact on the economic situation of the country and its people, of which nearly 40 percent live below the poverty line, the rediscovered hope and pride come at a moment where a new political and economic perspective for Argentina could be growing.

Argentina will hold general elections in October next year


Despite many years of economic depression, political mishandling and rampant corruption cases, the South American country retains a lot of potential thanks to fossil resources like gas — with the "dead cow" field in Patagonia being the world's second-largest shale gas reserve — and lithium, which is a key component for batteries in electric vehicles and electronics. Western leaders like German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have already expressed interest in supporting Argentina in exploiting those resources.

Moreover, next year could also see the ratification of the long-delayed trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur bloc — comprising Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — which now looks more likely as Brazil's new President Lula da Silva has vowed better protection of the Amazon rainforest. Optimism for the deal has also grown as Russia's war against Ukraine and growing tensions with China have led to a change of mind among many European politicians who have long opposed the deal but now see the need to forge closer ties with democracies in South America.
Advocates of the deal say that it would tear down protectionist barriers in Argentina and its

neighboring countries and open new opportunities for investment and growth.

Change could also come at the national political level, as Argentina will hold general elections in October next year in which the left-wing government is set to be challenged by more market-friendly candidates from both a center-right bloc and a new liberal party.

Some in Buenos Aires recalled on Sunday that the last time that Argentina won the World Cup, in 1986, was just three years after the fall of the military dictatorship — and it was a defining moment for the young democracy. The hope is that this year's victory will provide a similar lift for a country in dire need of one.   

"Perhaps, with a bit of luck, today's victory could be a precursor for a political and economic renovation that our country needs so badly," said Guillermo Alberto, a football fan partying on the streets of Recoleta, Buenos Aires.

Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×