YouTube battle ground

As the presidential race unfolds, internet starts playing a crucial role for candidates to transmit their image and ideas. YouTube is the new diva that joins the tool set of campaigners. Roberto Lavagna has recently inaugurated his video campaign on this site. Por Hugo Passarello Luna

On June 12th 2007 presidential candidate Roberto Lavagna presented a video on YouTube answering Robert Shapiro from the American Task Force (ATFA).
Before looking into this particular quarrel it is interesting to notice that Lavagna has launched a campaign in YouTube. On May 23rd the user “PresidenteLavagna” started presenting videos on this site and in only 3 weeks it uploaded 7 videos and received thousands views. Until now we had seen videos about candidates but mostly uploaded by regular users, maybe linked or not the candidates but not the candidates themselves.
In his videos Lavagna addresses president Nestor Kirchner, answers questions of citizens and comments on the recent elections in the City of Buenos Aires. This new channel of communication is an attempt to reflect on Lavagna’s slogan “Una Nación Avanzada” (An Advanced Nation). Click here to see his page.
It is worth reading the users’ comments. Internet is also a dangerous way for candidates to expose themselves, as anybody can leave messages for the entire world to see them.
Lavagna’s reply to ATFA
The last video, which received widespread circulation among traditional media, was a response to ATFA co-chair Robert Shapiro.
The military sounding title of ATFA (American Task Force Argentina) is an aggressive group that attempts to compel the Argentine Government to dialogue about its default of the sovereign debt in 2001. ATFA represents those affected by the default and they intend that Argentina uses its international reserves to pay back (in their website they have a clock that measures real-time how Argentina’s reserves, supposedly, grow constantly at a rate of US$ 600 the second).
In the video broadcasted through YouTube, Mr. Shapiro heavily attacks Kirchner and its administration for not dialoguing “in good faith” about the debt. In a threatening tone Shapiro says: “The actions of your government have consequences”, “Outside of Argentina, your government is seen as an example of an irresponsible international citizen.” and it also mentions that world leaders are worry about Argentina’s dependence on Hugo Chavez.
The consequence that Shapiro talks about is to be left out of the world financial market, which is leaving Argentina behind most other third world countries (according to numbers Shapiro extracts from a World Bank report).
ATFA engages in lobbying political and business leaders worldwide, especially US politicians, and investors in general, against Argentina.
In their site they euphemistically explain this action: “In particular the Task Force will educate the public and raise awareness about the hazards associated with the Argentine government’s failure to address its default in accordance with international norms.”
And in the video they are clearer: “The American Task Force Argentina is working hard to ensure that our leaders understand the consequences of your [the Argentine Government] decisions. Do not doubt our commitment to this effort, we will vigorously pursue all available avenues to motivate your government to honour your obligations.”
Another item worth mentioning is how Shapiro claims that ATFA’s action are not meant to hurt the Argentine people and it induces Argentines to urge the president to act for the stability of the country. Similar language is used in other threatening videos produced by different organizations against the United States.
This is not the only video by ATFA, just like Lavagna they use it regularly and post videos under the username of ATFAdotorg in YouTube.
Roberto Lavagna, quickly answered the video, even before the government, whom until now it has not said anything about it. His answer is crucial as it was him, while being the Minister of Economy of Argentina (2002-2005) who restructured and renegotiate the foreign debt. In the short video Lavagna affirmed that the bondholders who willingly did not participated in the debt renegotiation of the past years have not done anything but threatening the government, instead of providing reasons for it to reconsider their situation.
Here you can watch both videos.
ATFA’s video

Roberto Lavagna’s response