Argentina’s media landscape is currently inundated with political content. And understandably so, given that the country is in the midst of an electoral season. Memes have become a key element of political campaigning, and Argentine’s wit and creativity were on full display this week. From debates on dollarization and local versions of the Gadsden flag to a peculiar fixation on bananas, here’s a roundup of what went on in the battleground of digital culture.
In order to explain the gist of what happened, we have to go to a seemingly unrelated episode that took place in the real world. A TV interview with a young man who said he wished a cup of coffee in Argentina cost AR$1 went viral this week due to the peculiar logic he used to justify his hopes: that once Javier Milei’s proposed dollarization plan is set in motion, he would earn the same amount in dollars as he does in pesos.
“My current salary is AR$100,000, if Milei gets elected I’ll earn US$100,000.”
The journalist’s response was swift. “That’s not how dollarization works,” she said, seemingly hurting the interviewee’s hopes and dreams. A few minutes later, a user posted the interview on X (formerly Twitter) with a caption that read “oh dear, this guy is an idiot.” The person who shared the video was Jeremías Madrazo, who, as it turns out, was the same guy who had been interviewed minutes before.
In a conversation with the Herald, filmmaker and content creator Madrazo offered his reasoning. “I was devastated after the PASO results and began thinking we should fight the war [against Milei’s ideas] through memetics. Trying to convince people and talking down to them does not work.”
Memetics is an approach to understanding how information travels. A meme — an idea transmitted through a certain image and style — spreads over the internet through social media via repetition. The study of memetics and its sociological aspects has been used to also analyze internet memes, which spread virally and evolve individually over time.
Following this idea, if a video is either ridiculous or funny enough, or spikes controversy, it will have a longer reach. Madrazo knew this and decided to put this principle to use for what he called “a good cause.”
“I wanted to create content that everyone could agree with. A Milei supporter could watch this and say, ‘that’s stupid, that’s not how dollarization works.’ If I’m a peronist, I could reach similar conclusions but for different reasons.”
Madrazo accomplished his goal, as many journalists replicated the interview with the intention of explaining how dollarization works and why this common belief — among Milei supporters — regarding how much a person will earn is wrong.
However, there are people who firmly believe in dollarization. La derecha diario (The right-wing daily), a website founded by Fernando Cerimedo, the man who claims to have arranged Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Argentina, shared a list of “dollarized countries” on X, which included Panamá, Ecuador, El Salvador and even the United States.
A La Libertad Avanza candidate for Congress, Agustín Romo. also chimed in on the debate, saying “dollarization is not just a solution, it is the only one.”
Some replied to the post trying to correct it saying that the US’ national currency is the dollar, but most of them were fixated on a particular characteristic all the countries included in the list apparently share: they all farm bananas.
So now we’re back to what made this explainer necessary. Everything starts with the reminder of the term used in Argentina and many places for countries that depend on exporting commodities and seemingly suffer constant political corruption, political crises, and poverty: país bananero (banana republic).
The definitive meme war started after streamer and content creator Tomás Rebord mentioned this fact and called on his followers who oppose Milei’s proposal to offer bananas to those eager for dollarization. And since yellow was visually trending, the Gadsden flag suffered as well. Images of Argentine national hero Martín Miguel de Güemes and the Virgin Mary treading on the rattlesnake with the new slogan Yo piso donde quiero (I step where I wish) started making the rounds.
I’m sorry that Argentine Twitter is so creative, but the guy who first tweeted that list is probably sorry too.