|Brazillian President Rousseff's message for Obama|
After battling their own debt crises and getting constantly lectured about them by the USA, many South Americans are now turning the tables on Washington.
For everybody from presidents on down to street vendors, seeing U.S. politicians argue over where to make painful budget cuts has also been a reminder that those days are over in Latin America.
For now, at least, as most of the region enjoys an era of economic prosperity and comparatively tiny deficits. In Washington, lawmakers were working feverishly to combine elements of a plan to raise the U.S. debt ceiling with market-pleasing proposals to cut spending.
Congress must approve an increase in the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt ceiling by Aug. 2 or the government will run out of money to pay its bills.
"When did the American dream become a nightmare?" gloated Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, whose own country defaulted on about $100 billion in debt a decade ago.In a speech at the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange on Monday, she contended that Argentina had prospered since then by focusing on exports and controlling financial speculation, a lesson that Washington has yet to learn, she said.
The Americans "thought that money just reproduces by itself, and only in the financial sector, without having to produce any goods or services," Fernandez said.Washington's biggest critics in the region, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, have also portrayed the crisis as an inevitable outcome for a country that failed to follow its own financial advice and overextended itself militarily, in Latin America, and elsewhere.
"If they didn't spend money on military bases and keeping troops in other parts of the world, I think the United States could easily resolve its financial crisis," Morales said last week, according to state news agency ABI.
|Payback for Paul O'Neill|
One infamous example: As Argentina spiraled into crisis in 2001, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill mocked the country for its debt struggles and said: "They like it that way. Nobody forced them to be what they are."
These days, Latin America's economy as a whole is expected to expand about 4.7 percent in 2011, which is almost twice the expected rate in the United States
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has met with her team of economic advisers at least four times in the past week, primarily to discuss what a default in the United States or Europe might mean for Brazil, an official told Reuters.
"(Rousseff) starts every day reading the news out of Washington," the official said. "She's fascinated by it."
|Chavez and Morales celebrate America's economic collapse|
"If you're a survivor of the crises of the 80s and 90s, (this crisis) is unthinkable," wrote Miriam Leitao, one of Brazil's leading columnists, noting that Obama must now confront the kind of issues "that would have seemed like lunacy to us back in the days when they had a monopoly on power."