Worldly Talk

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Argentina's flagship detained in Ghana

   
Argentina's flagship detained in Ghana

Ok so, I know Latin America doesn't get a lot of attention here (or the thirld world, in general), but I've read many topics here and frankly, I am quite impressed by the collective output that you guys make.

I'd like to pinpoint your attention today to an international issue, of little significance up north, but quite important southways.

Quite objective news article
Argentine Chief Admiral resigns due to crisis

I won't lie to you: I'm quite anti government right now. But we have here quite a situation. In case you don't know, Argentina is enjoying for the first time in it's history a 30-year period of uninterrumpted democracy with free, secret and compulsory voting. Our armed forces are minimal, our economy is growing due in no small part to soy exports, and there is a lot of political and social tensions between anti and pro government, much like it's happening in Venezuela. We have a (self-proclaimed at least) leftist parlamentary republic.

Our external debt is relatively huge, and we have a modest amount of reserves (40 billion dollars, kept inmobile "just in case"). We had some funds in the US Federal Reserve seized by order of US Judge Thomas Griesa, the US goverment suggested the move was wrong, the whole thing was later undone to preserve the trust in the Federal Reserve.

We had a huge crisis in 2001 when the financial system cracked from pressure due to outdated currency rates, banks crashing because of mass withdrawals (and a prohibition to extract more money than a tiny amount in a non-electronic currency economy), loss of social control, and corruption. Mass riots, looting, police deserting, it was grim. We're only just done licking those wounds.

What do you guys think? Is it licit to seize a military vessel on debt grounds? Is it an act of war? Is it a violation of sovereignty? Is it a national security issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuzco View Post
What do you guys think? Is it licit to seize a military vessel on debt grounds? Is it an act of war? Is it a violation of sovereignty? Is it a national security issue?
I think you have to pay your way, country or non-country.
Yes it's licit.
No it's not an invasion of sovereignty. Although I am sure there are some laws that say it is amd some that say it isn't, you're in someone else's territorial waters.
Yes, definitely a national security issue.

I suspect that there is an issue of infighting between government and military that stopped this being resolved. I have very little sympathy for your government, but even less for your military.
I also suspect some political reason why the debt was pulled now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gygaxphobia View Post
I suspect that there is an issue of infighting between government and military that stopped this being resolved. I have very little sympathy for your government, but even less for your military.
Well, there is a sociological conflict with the current military, ideologically linked by the government to our latest -hopefully, last- military Junta. But I was more concerned with the debt and seize issue.

Do you know of similar cases? How where they resolved?

Well most governments come to a resolution with their creditors. These so called "vulture funds" are buying defaulted debts at less than 10% of their face value, so anything they make is a profit. This one in particular specialises in holding the debt for longer terms and recovering much larger amounts, though the fact that 93% of Argentina's bold holders from 2001 have come to arrangements, some with less than 5 cents on the dollar, shows you that these things can be resolved.

There are plenty of sovereign debts this happens with, but military vessels are seized only very rarely even though they are public assets as it can easily be taken as an act of war - civil ships are easier (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-0...r-says-1-.html)

Military ships are often impounded before they are released from the shipyards to the country but I can't think of any other instances. There are plenty of times war has been caused by debt of course, (Treaty of Versailles/Occupation of the Ruhr, Egypt 1882, Venezuela 1902 etc).

It's absolutely normal to arrest in a port a commercial ship as a way of securing debts. No idea with military ship, usually the problem is its fire power...

If I were to think something to challenge here I'd rather concentrate on the fact that the debts were more or less fairly paid back (as much as was possible) and any preferential treatment for the vulture fund would be a discrimination of other debtors, including Argentinian citizens. The mere fact of sizing a property of gov that doesn't pays its debts does not seem blatantly illegal.

I don't think that's an act of war as such, but if you need a casus belli against Ghana, that's good enough. However, defunding military put you in disadvantageous position for using gun boat diplomacy.

Ghana doesn't have any outstanding debts that you could be eager to help to collect, does it?

Suggested tactics:
Argentina: make lot's of noise on international forum, threaten to revoke diplomatic relations, threaten economic sanctions (ex. high tariffs against Ghana aimed as compensation) at best with help of some South America powers, in the worst case actually abandon (vulture fund would be simply delighted to become a naval power) the ship and try to size it back when it visits friendlier to you port
Vulture fund: try to attack, bribe local officials, there is no other way to get proper ROI
Ghana: side with that who pays more/can do more harm

Yes unfortunately we have so little normal contact with Ghana that there is scarcely anything we can do to put pressure, except that we are about to join the UN Sec Council - as a temporary member, of course :P
And use the Mercosur to put pressure - though I wonder if it'll mean anything.

Wait, we've got our nukes-- ah no, US ban.

I'd regard it as a attack on my nation's sovereignty. But I'm not a policy wonk, I'd just be a average citizen POed at this kind of treatment.

It seems to me that if private citizens are able to sieze your military flagship you aren't in much of a position to start crying "act of war". That generally requires having a credible military capability. Unless you are relying on allies to go get your boat back for you with their military force...

Just because you can start a war doesn't mean you should. They may not want to go to war with Ghana. Note that its' not like these investors personally showed up and stormed the ship, it was done by another government. And also, despite being the flagship, it isn't a modern warship. The Libertad is a three masted school ship for cadets.




 

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