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Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 09:58 GMT
Argentina: Should people be given free access to their bank accounts?
Protesters have again taken to the streets of Argentina demanding free access to their bank accounts and the resignation of the government.

The unrest resumed after President Eduardo Duhalde criticised the Supreme Court over a ruling that said limits on cash withdrawals from banks were unconstitutional.

The ruling came as the government was putting the finishing touches to its emergency economic rescue plan, due to be announced on Saturday.

Instead, the president announced the suspension of his rescue plan and said banks would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday to prevent a run on savings.

He said Argentina was now on the brink of anarchy, and he warned that millions of Argentines could lose their savings.

Should the people of Argentina be allowed unrestricted access to their money? What can be done to alleviate the economic crisis? Is President Duhalde's approach a viable economic option? Have you been personally affected by the crisis?

We were in the same situation during our bank freeze in Brazil and I know the indignation people are feeling

Mariana Woisky, Brazil/Canada
It's difficult to say. On one hand this brings to memory the bank freeze that former President Collor subjected Brazilians to in the early 1990s, and I remember how angry people were, it hurt the least advantaged the most. But then, from a Brazilian point of view, I would be afraid if capital flight broke the bank system in Argentina, because for sure it would affect my country and the rest of South America, and Mercosur would probably collapse. My father, a civil engineer, is being affected because some of his clients have cancelled projects because of the Argentinean crisis.

So if I were to take just Brazilian interests in consideration I would approve of the freeze to prevent Argentina from collapsing and bringing the rest of us down. But then, this stance would be hypocritical because we were in the same situation during our bank freeze in Brazil and I know the indignation people are feeling. But I would direct that indignation less towards the Argentinean politicians and more towards the IMF and World Bank, who are comfortably sitting in their offices in DC while Argentineans (and the whole developing world) languish due to the disastrous economic policies they imposed on our countries.
Mariana Woisky, Brazil/Canada

What will we do if the government blocks the use of our bank deposits and in between devaluates our currency? All this in the middle of a completely unlawful process will drive us over the edge into complete chaos.
Francisco Diaz, Argentina

If Che Guevara could see what has happened to his country now, he would no doubt be supporting the actions of the people against a government that has become a victim of globalisation and the ruthless capitalism that comes with it.
Stefan Prestedge, England

There seems to be an amazing lack of understanding of Argentina's problems in the comments received so far. Comparing this with Enron is wrong - the reason the Argentine people are facing banking restrictions was because, in the aftermath of the decision to let the peso exchange rate float, there was a serious risk that too many people would try to withdraw too much money from the banks. If that happened in the UK or US it would cause the collapse of the banks - they simply don't have the cash lying around to hand over.

The restrictions will be lifted - and you might well criticise the way the government has done this - but to suggest that the money has gone forever (or has been stolen) is wrong. Stefan also claims that Argentina are the victims of global capitalism. While I have immense sympathy with the Argentine people for the problems they face, Argentina faces a debt crisis because the government consistently spent more than it could afford to - not helped by the fact that tax collection in the country is appallingly inefficient. Many of their problems are therefore home grown - to blame investors for refusing to lend more money to Argentina is naive to say the least.
Richard, US

The present government might as well declare official bankruptcy

Fredrik Johnson, Sweden
The money just is not there. It has already been spent. Basically it all started back with a military dictator named Peron. The money Argentina has been living on since then has been borrowed. The present government might as well declare official bankruptcy because that's what is going to have to happen for the country to survive. One can only hope that the people of Argentina will survive the experience.
Fredrik Johnson, Sweden

There is no other solution in Argentina but to have responsible administrators and government officials, which is next to impossible. People have to change their values and attitudes. What is amazing in all of this is that billions of dollars disappear and nobody is going to jail. The same will happen in the Enron case and the same has already happened in Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Equador.
Richard Roldan, Honduras

I lived in Argentina back in the 1980s and nothing has changed very much. You still have corrupt governments who care for themselves and not the people. The Argentine government is in violation of various human rights acts. It must let the people have their money.
S Lawrence, England

BBC News Online explains how Argentina suffered the near-collapse of its economy

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See also:

02 Feb 02 | Americas
02 Feb 02 | Americas
04 Jan 02 | Business
31 Dec 01 | Americas
30 Dec 01 | Americas
31 Dec 01 | Americas
13 Dec 01 | Business
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