To give the current race the full Eva Peron treatment, the wives of the two—Chiche Duhalde and Cristina Kirchner—are running against each other, via their respective husband’s political party, for senator in the
Just as Eva Peron was loved for handing out sewing machines to the poor, the two competing Peronist parties have been caught distributing appliances, building materials and checks in poor, hotly-contested precincts in the
Government representatives denied the existence of a menu and claimed that they’d been delivering appliances for ages—that this was not an election tactic—while residents in the areas contradicted this and said that they were offered checks and goods to attend political rallies and that appliances were delivered to those affiliated with the correct political party while those not affiliated watched from the sidelines and yelled. From my own visit to a shantytown inside the city, the process of “clientelismo”—where the poor become “clients” of a political party and sell their votes for aid—is common. In the Villa 20 shantytown, I was told that the “villa’s business was the villa”—i.e. it thanks politicians who provide investments with votes—and that the majority of the jobs inside were government-paid construction jobs.
The more sinister side, made clear by the claims of cash-for-attendance and preferential donations, is what feeds the current scandal. Helping the poor is good. Yes. But buying your party votes with tax receipts? Spinning that into something palatable thrusts the citizenry far deeper into cynicism's smirking maw. No wonder no one pays taxes here.