Lakes of Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Today we have so many things to talk about that we don’t know which is most important.

First, we are preparing for an extended stay in Chile but there are so many things to do first. Since we were burglarized, the owner of the apartment wants to install a monitored alarm, at their expense. We are touched by their kindness and we await the installation. This is about the last thing we expected here in Buenos Aires.

Trend in Impediments to Americans Obtaining a U. S. Passport?

Next, we feel concern about the trend in impediments to Americans holding a U.S. passport. We have discussed this before but feel compelled to mention it again. So far the restrictions that are in effect probably will not affect many of our readers. But we think that we see a trend. More and more grounds are being added upon which passports can be denied or revoked. For example, if you are believed to owe money to the IRS, if you owe child support, and a few others that are not illogical, you will be denied a passport. But we see some trends that we consider more concerning.

Two years ago the son of one of the expats in Uruguay decided to join his mother in South America. He went to U. S. Immigration to apply for his passport, They gave him an application that was impossible to complete.  The form stated that any failure to complete it would result in denial. This questionnaire required the addresses of every place he had ever lived, every supervisor he ever had in his work including current phone numbers, names of the people in attendance at his birth and contact information for them, and even asked if he was circumcised. We repeat this story for the benefit of new subscribers. But we also fear that others need a reminder.

We almost couldn’t believe this story until we looked into it and found that indeed some people, apparently at random, were being given that form to fill out if they wanted to apply for a passport. We reported that to our readers and recommended that potential expats apply for a passport only online, since the online applications were all the customary form.

We have no idea why they were testing this form on applicants and we do not think it is still in use. But since then it has been proposed to revoke or deny a passport to anyone who, stated in legalese terms, supports hostilities against the United States. The wording in the proposal seems to us very broad since returning military and those who disagree with government policies are sometimes referred to as possible “terrorists.”  We are not certain what might constitute supporting hostilities against the U.S.

Add to this the exit tax now levied on high-wealth individuals leaving the United States, even though all taxes have been paid on the funds. Plus the pressures put on foreign banks that open bank accounts for U.S. citizens living abroad, to the point that many banks have set a policy to refuse to accept U. S. citizens as clients. (However, don’t worry. It is still possible to open a foreign bank account.).

We are aware that the number of U. S. citizens expatriating is growing. It is still small but the growth trend is unmistakable, year-to-year. As a rule, the more applicants for residency that countries have, the more discriminating they become. Consequently, they tend to raise requirements, which could make it more difficult for U. S. citizens to obtain legal status outside if they wait too long. We think that the increasing numbers of people leaving may encourage the U.S. to come up with more restrictions in an attempt to keep the money at home.

We present this evidence to support our suggestion that, if you ever plan to get a second passport somewhere in the world, that you not put it off but get about the task of doing it very soon–and in the process, move some of your financial assets along with you.

We have all seen capital controls in several other countries when the government gets strapped for funds. We are living that experience in Argentina right now. When the politicians need money to support their programs and citizens are busy taking it out of their reach, those politicians tend to take action to protect their own position. Thus in the U.S. we have reports that, not only is there now an exit tax on certain funds leaving the U.S., but again and again the subject is coming up in Congress of taking over the private retirement funds of Americans.

Right now you can get citizenship in two years in Argentina if you live here at least six months out of the year. We think that Argentina is headed for another crisis, perhaps similar to that of 2001, and at this point we don’t know what the political outcome will be. It could be good or not so good. But we always add that there are investors with cash waiting for the crisis in order to cash in on the opportunities that they think will present at that time. We were not here in the 2001 crisis but have talked with several people who were in the better areas of Buenos Aires and tell us there was really no problem so long as you were not in the area of Congresso (their Congress building) or the Casa Rosada (Argentina’s version of the White House) where the demonstrations were taking place.

For our part, we plan to maintain a presence here.  There is something about Argentina that captures your heart. But we try to be realistic in our presentation to you—and in our own decisions as well.  We also do not know when things might change in Argentina and obtaining citizenship here could become more complicated than it is at present. There are other countries that offer great benefit and citizenship, they just take a little longer.  There are lots of opportunities and many choices.

Getting citizenship and a second passport can be inconvenient in any case—but still seems to us that that second passport and citizenship may be an important option in time to come–and that it could be wise for those who intend to do so to begin the process soon. It isn’t getting any easier!

Before we move on today, we thought you might like to share a small excursion here in Buenos Aires. Right in the midst of this huge city, in the barrio in which I live, Palermo, there is what we would call a city park called the Lakes of Palermo. You can go there just to take a break from the pressures of the day. This visit was especially pleasant because the day had the feel of spring. Temperatures are becoming warmer in Argentina. Remember that south of the equator the seasons are reversed. We have been experiencing winter as the northern hemisphere experienced summer and now there is a hint of spring here as the far north experiences a hint of fall.

The Lakes of Palermo is a good place for walking, bicycling, inline skating, you can feed the ducks and the geese, there is adult level exercise equipment where you can do your sit-ups or gymnastics–or just relax on a bench and soak up the sun. There is a lovely restaurant to have lunch or coffee, either before or after you have enjoyed the lake or finished your workout.

Sometimes you just want to get away and relax and this is a good place to do it and enjoy a bit of nature, right inside the city.

We look forward to seeing you again . . . next week.