God is Argentine, as Argentines are fond of saying. Now, so is the pope. Next month, Argentina will also have a queen when Máxima Zorreguieta is crowned alongside her husband, Prince Willem of Holland.
Then there’s Lionel Messi – the closest thing to divinity on earth for football worshippers (and better, some say, than even Mr Hand of God himself, Diego Maradona).
The election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis – the first pope from Latin America – sparked cheering crowds outside Buenos Aires cathedral and breathless coverage on television. It’s almost enough to take your mind off all the bad news here – like rampant inflation, the possible loss of a $6bn investment (in a country not high on investors’ radars) and foreign exchange controls.
On Thursday, there is due to be a union protest. Farmers are contemplating withholding soya – Argentina’s chief cash crop – in protest at government policies for the sector and will decide next month. And unless the government can convince a US appeals court when it submits its offer to its holdout creditors on March 29, an unpleasant technical default could beckon.
But for now, God has smiled on Argentina, so the natives think. So says Maradona, anyway, with the Argentine’s legendary giant ego: “The God of football is Argentine. Now the pope is too.”
Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina elected pope, FT
Pope-watch and the demography of the Catholic church, The World
Lucrative lesson of Papal tourism, beyondbrics