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By Andres Oppenheimer
A U.S. congressional proposal aimed at expelling Argentina's populist-leftist government from the G-20 group of the world's leading economies faces an uncertain future, not the least because it lacks significant support from unexpected quarters -- conservative Cuban-American Republican lawmakers.
Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., the most senior Republican member of the
The proposed resolution refers to Argentina's recent expropriation of YPF, which was owned by Spain's
"As a nation that mocks the law and declines to respect the property and interests of foreign investors, Argentina should not have a world leadership role in the G-20," Lugar said.
Carl Meacham, a top Lugar aide, told me that the motion is likely to be voted on in June. While "sense of the
"There is a lot of support for it," Meacham said. "For the sake of preserving the integrity of the international economic system, you cannot allow countries to get away with murder and send a message that there are no consequences to deal with transgressions."
Other congressional sources are less convinced that Lugar's proposal will fly. Lugar's recent defeat by a
In addition, key Republican Cuban-American legislators are hesitant about coming across as supporting
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a fellow member of the
Asked for a reaction to Lugar's G-20 suspension proposal, Argentina's ambassador to the United States Jorge Arguello said that the country "not worried because it's clear that this proposal distorts the facts and contains baseless accusations."
Arguello argued that Argentina has "rigorously followed all legal procedures,'' in the YPF expropriation under an Argentina-Spain investment agreement that expressly allows such takeovers.
Regarding Lugar's charges that Argentina is not honoring more than 100 U.S. court rulings from investors hurt by Argentina's 2001 default on its foreign debt, Arguello countered that his government is "religiously paying' the country's debts to 93 percent of its creditors. The remaining 7 percent will not be paid until they drop their demands to get preferential treatment, he said.
My opinion: There is little love for Argentina's cult of transgression within the
Barring outside factors such as a Greek default that would shake world markets and draw calls for stronger actions against "transgressor" countries, G-20 leaders will look at the YPF affair as a bilateral problem between Spain and a country they see as Latin America's bipolar teenager. If Greece follows Argentina's steps, however, it may be another story.
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