Last Saturday, I arrived in chilly Buenos Aires. I am sure it is just a coincidence, but my arrival coincided with the collapse of the peso. A dollar goes a long way in Argentina. For $40, Americans can get a four-star hotel; for $4, they can get a tasty steak. Signs of Argentinian economic malaise abound, from shanty towns on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to hobos sleeping on dirty mattresses in its downtown. Argentines love raw dollars, offering huge deals for cash purchases.
It appears that the Peronistas are on the verge of victory. As Brazil goes right, Argentina moves back to the left, such is its addiction to its socialist traditions.
My principal purpose in visiting Buenos Aires is to learn about its not-so-favorite son, Jorge Bergoglio, who still hasn’t visited Argentina since becoming Pope Francis. During my first few days here, I asked every Catholic I met to explain that anomaly. I got some blunt and brutal answers.
“We all know he is a son of a bitch,” said a former prosecutor to me. “We are ashamed of him. He represents our worst qualities.”
His friend chipped in that Catholics consider Francis “to be a fake, a make-believe pope,” not to mention, he added, an uncultured, ill-mannered flake.
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