by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz | February 5th, 2014
Winter is pounding the USA, it’s Summer in South America, and the currencies favor the dollar, so the WaPo says “Now is when you should take that trip to Argentina“.
The currencies shown in the chart above from The Economist all have their own problems, but Argentina is a special case. The Argentine peso has declined in value steadily since May, and at an accelerating rate during the winter months. Following last week’s sell-off, the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner took some extraordinary steps to protect the value of the currency, which has held steady for several days now. The government persuaded major manufacturers in several sectors to agree not to raise prices. At the same time, in an acknowledgment of the seriousness of the problem, authorities made it somewhat easier to trade pesos for dollars through official channels, rather than on the black market. Economists are doubtful that these measures will have any lasting effect, however, they don’t address the causes of the inflation. These include the Kirchner government’s policies of largesse and the country’s need for foreign currency to spend on imported energy.
Chile’s currency, also listed in the chart, is down 15%; Brazil’s down 17%. Additionally, the Colombian peso is at its lowest level since 2007.
So is now the time to travel to Argentina, Brazil, Chile or Colombia?
Yes, it is, with two provisos: 1. Don’t get in debt, and 2. Do heed those State Department travel warnings.
I touched on the State Department travel advice on Colombia in a prior post. The information on Brazil, Chile and Argentina is also very clear, and the countries welcome millions of tourists every year.
When I was in Argentina, I was with a group who included where at least one person who was fluent in Spanish (or Portuguese, if in Brazil), we called ahead for taxis before heading out – particularly at night (so you can get there and back safely), and always asked at our hotel before heading out to a “non-touristy” place. Don’t expect the locals to be fluent in English,
Make sure to stay way from trouble spots and demonstrations.
If you’ll be traveling later this year, avoid Brazil during the World Cup, unless you are a rabid soccer fan and willing to pay premium prices for every thing.
The currency exchange rates are favorable, the weather’s warm, and the food’s good. Bon voyage!
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on Latin America and American politics at Fausta’s Blog. She won’t be traveling just now since she doesn’t want to get into debt to pay for the trip.
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