November 30, 2018, Buenos Aires.
So I am writing this little entry from my studio in San Telmo as the city of Buenos Aires goes into a complete lock down with the arrival of the heads of state for the G-20. Or as my cousin put it, “Marshall law disguised as a vacation opportunity.”
The Donald (I prefer to call him that for old time’s sake) landed last night and Argentine President Mauricio Macri is going to spend the next 48 hours dancing his way around little terms like “Paris Accord”, “protectionism”, and “Jamal Khashoggi” in order to keep The Donald supporting a $56.3 billion put-Argentina-in-even-deeper-debt package from the IMF, so Macri can get re-elected as CEO of Argentina in 2019, and further gut public health, education and welfare helping allowing his associates and business partners to overcharge the government for their goods and services.
But The Donald and Macri’s relationship actually goes back a lot farther, back to 1979, when Argentina was still under a military dictatorship that disappeared 30,000 of its citizens, and Macri’s father, Francisco Macri, a businessman who made a great fortune supporting and doing business with that dictatorship decided to try his hand at real estate development in New York. In 1979, he purchased an option to develop the 77-acre West Side Yards on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. However, Macri’s U.S. banker Conrad Stephenson who worked for Chase Manhattan Bank said he could only get Chase on board if Macri brought in a local developer. In 1982, Stephenson pushed for Macri to partner with another one of his clients: Donald Trump.
As you can imagine, things did not go well for their business venture, and after three years of negotiations, Francisco Macri finally sold the option to The Donald in 1985. The Donald later described the purchase as “the easiest business decision I ever made,” despite the fact that after nine years that included mismanaging negotiations with Mayor Ed Koch and getting into a debt situation that he could not pay back, The Donald was forced to sell the site to Chinese buyers in 1994, essentially ending his efforts to become a major New York developer.
However, while The Donald and Macri the-father were still trying to work things out, Macri brought his son Mauricio into the negotiations to try and smooth things over. There was a famous / infamous golf game between The Donald and Mauricio – stuff of legends – that has been repeatedly told and often with completely different endings: one in which The Donald broke his clubs one by one over his knee, another in which after beating him for 15 or so holes, Mauricio Macri threw the game to stroke The Donald’s ego and help negotiations.
In any event, here they are a little over 30 years later, two charlatans (chantas as they are called in the Spanish of Buenos Aires), both the sons of corrupt businessmen who built their fortunes on crony capitalism, who managed to successfully sell themselves to millions of voters as successful businessmen capable of making their nations great again.
But the good news is, if you are planning a trip to Buenos Aires, The Donald should be gone in a couple of days and we have already contracted a fumigator to come on Monday.
And if you are coming to visit, feel free to write to me with any questions you may have: