Adios Buenos Aires? Why Moving Argentina's Capital Is A Dangerous Idea
For the Argentine daily Clarin, the proposal backed by President Kirchner to move the capital to a much smaller city is not just wrong for practical reasons, but a sign of something more sinister.
BUENOS AIRES — While Argentina still faces the threat of a national default, the country has been in the news for another reason: the growing number of public figures, including President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who favor proposals to move the nation's capital from Buenos Aires to the much smaller (and apparently much, much quieter) northern city of Santiago del Estero.
Kirchner and others say the move could heal the breach between Buenos Aires, a cosmopolitan urban area with 12 million residents, and the country's interior. However attractive it may sound, the capital's transfer could quickly worsen the overall state of the country.
It's true that moving the capital is more common than some might think. Over the last century, there has been on average one move every six years, with examples including switching the capital of Brazil from Rio de Janiero to Brasilia, from Almaty to Astana in Kazakhstan, and from Yangon to Naypyidaw in Myanmar.
The stated reasons for such moves range from traffic problems in overpopulated capital cities to the need to develop backward regions or balance regional rivalries. Other governments point out the need to protect themselves more from foreign threats, real or imagined.
And yet, there is perhaps another threat lurking below the surface: the specter of political agitation. In the history of political uprisings, capital cities have had a prominent role in determining the nation's destiny. A small group in the capital can shake the government the way larger but more distant groups can't.
So one can begin to see why an unstable government might want to move the capital from a populated city to an isolated location, just as the junta in Myanmar did.