The Miami Herald
November 12, 2001

Argentine leader gets no U.S. help


 BUENOS AIRES -- Coming home with little more than moral support from President Bush, President Fernando de la Rúa returns to Argentina today hoping to break a stubborn deadlock with political opposition forces that has blocked any new U.S. financial backing for a desperate economy.

 Following a 30-minute meeting Sunday morning with President Bush after a three-day visit to New York, a solemn de la Rúa pronounced himself ``very happy'' with the discussions.

 ``I told [Bush] about the economic situation in our country; I didn't hide the fact that it was a difficult situation,'' de la Rúa said.

 But beyond Bush's words of support, there was little other outcome immediately visible.

 Clouding the visit, opposition governors refused to reach a debt accord with de la Rúa's administration before he left for the United States on Thursday night, denying him the possibility of showing Bush that he had united political backing for his latest economic program.

 Although the de la Rúa government attempted to dampen expectations that the U.S. government would offer new loans from international lending institutions, hopes were heightened before the meeting that Washington would come to Argentina's rescue at this moment.

 ``Beyond the good wishes, the interest on the part of President Bush, I didn't see anything else,'' said political analyst Ricardo Rouvier, after watching de la Rúa
 summarize the meeting on Argentine television.

 De la Rúa addressed the United Nations, met with his Latin American counterparts and toured the site of the World Trade Center disaster and voiced Argentina's support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

 But in Buenos Aires, where he will stay a scant 48 hours before departing on a new trip to Germany and Portugal on Tuesday, de la Rúa returns to the same increasingly desperate economic situation and growing strains in politics.

 On the financial front, Argentina needs approval from the International Monetary Fund for the early disbursement of $1.2 billion in pending loans that will keep the country current on interest payments on its foreign debt in November.

 The Argentine government, facing a deepening recession that is now in its fourth year, has announced that the government's $132 billion debt must be rescheduled, first with domestic bondholders. Foreign bondholders will face rescheduling next year.

                                    © 2001