18 Bizarre Things That Only Happen In Argentina

Last week, the Argentine government devalued its currency and prices soared. It was just one step on a long road to getting Argentina’s economy back in order as the Central Bank’s currency reserves dip to dangerous levels.

It’s been chaotic, but Argentines don’t sweat it. They’ve seen this before.

Economic crashes, underground dollar exchanges, Rolling Stones cults, and a string of five Presidents in two weeks in 2001 — Argentina is a crazy place.

The South American country is rich with resources, but often broke. As a result, Argentines are so accustomed to political and economic turmoil that they’ve adopted a bunch of interesting coping mechanisms — habits that help them get through the disorder.

And then there’s the stuff that just comes out of left field.

In 2001/2002 the country had five presidents in two weeks.

Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, President in December 2002

It was a tough time -- Argentina's economy had crashed after it defaulted on $US13.2 billion of foreign debt it could not pay.

The string of presidents started when Fernando de la Rua resigned in December of 2001. The last of the five, Eduardo Duhalde, was appointed in January 2002 amid major protesting.

The country's naval vessel, La Fragata Libertad, was impounded in Ghana for two weeks thanks to a hedge fund manager.

Hedge fund manager Paul Singer got a Ghanaian court to impound the 'Libertad,' which was docked in a Ghanaian port, last year. It was stuck there for months.

The country has refused to pay Singer and other investors $US1.4 billion in sovereign debt. The legal case has raged for years, with Argentina referring to the hedge fund managers as 'vultures.'

Singer took the boat as collateral.

The government put out this video of the crew finally returning home.

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Now the president charters a flight to avoid getting her state plane impounded.

In order to avoid another Paul Singer Ghana incident, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner chartered an $880,000 flight to Indonesia earlier this year.

Massive dolls like this one get blown up on New Year's Eve.

Sometimes neighborhoods close down roads and ask drivers to pay a toll in order to raise money for doll construction.

The current president's shopping sprees are public knowledge.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) is known for her good looks, so she has to look good, right?

So why not grab 20 pairs of Louboutin shoes (as well as some designer bags from Louis Vuitton and Hermes) in Paris after a meeting with the president of France?

Your cab driver is your shrink. Don't expect a quiet ride.

This could be really fun, actually.

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Ugly people wanted beautiful Argentines to pay a tax.

Argentines pride themselves on their looks, and plastic surgery is huge in the country. As a result, ugly people feel they get the short end of the stick big time.

From BBC back in 2007 during the reign of not-so-attractive President Nestor Kirchner, CFK's late husband:

Gonzalo Otalora does not much care what he looks like. He planted himself in front of the presidential palace, the Casa Rosada or Pink House, to harangue President Nestor Kirchner to change the law.

It's not fair, he said. The beautiful people get all the breaks. Beauty is a natural advantage and he wants the good-lookers to be taxed to finance compensation for the ugly people...

'The president for me is a comrade,' he explained. 'He's a loyal comrade because our childhoods were very similar. He also had thick glasses and spots. They also made fun of him.

No one believes the inflation rate the government reports, but dissenting economists can get in trouble.

For years independant statisticians have put Argentina's inflation rate around 25-30%. The government reports the rate much lower.

Even the IMF put out a report on this and Cristine Legarde, the IMF president, said the country might get a 'red card' for its fibs.

Political parties have their own beers.

The ruling party, Peronist, (as in Evita Peron) started the whole thing, and one of their beers is named after the former first lady.

From AP:

The Peron Peron bar started the trend when it released its blonde beer, Evita. Now it also offers 'Montonero,' a dark ale named after the 1970s guerrilla group, and 'Double K' in honour of Argentine leader Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband, President Nestor Kirchner.

Across town, the opposition Radical Party has its own brewery, crafting blonde, red and black varieties named after another president, Hipolito Yrigoyen.

The President does TV appearances with a cute dog.

After undergoing brain surgery and staying out of the public eye, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner reappeared on video with this cute dog, given to her by late-Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.

Apple products are really hard to find and cost triple what they cost in the United States.

The government has blocked the products entirely before. They say it's in order to bolster the economy and curb inflation.

The Rolling Stones have a cult following called 'Rolingas.'

Thousands of teenagers dress like Mick Jagger and worship the band like 'Dead Heads' in the U.S.A.

You have to apply to get dollars to leave the country.

And your application can easily be rejected.

To stem capital flight from the country, the government has placed restrictions on currency exchanges and travel.

From the Economist:

Any Argentine wishing to buy dollars to travel abroad must provide their tax-identification number to the tax agency (AFIP) and declare where, when and why they are travel ling. Even after waiting in long queues and filling in stacks of paperwork, would-be travellers are often refused dollars, or granted miserly sums that would hardly cover a souvenir snow-globe. When recently asked to explain how AFIP determines the allotment of dollars, its director bumbled: 'It is a formula that is periodically changed that has ingredients from the central bank, AFIP and God. The truth? I can't explain it because I don't know exactly how it operates.'

So to get dollars, there are underground dollar exchanges called 'blue markets.'

Argentines are afraid their economy may crash again, so to get ready people exchange their dollars for pesos.

But since there are restrictions on currency exchange, anyone who wants dollars sometimes must go underground.

Bitcoins are getting popular in Argentina as well.

Or they take day trips to Uruguay and come back with backpacks full of dollars.

Some people make multiple trips a day to Colonia de Sacramento. It's only an hour ferry ride away.

Think that's crazy? Check out what's going down at Argentina's neighbour's.

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