The National Interest
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
By J. Peter Pham
Last Thursday, a judge in Ghana upheld a court order impounding the legendary three-masted flagship of the Argentine Navy as part of a debt dispute with a commercial creditor of the Latin American country. While Judge Richard Adjei Frimpong’s ruling was limited to the particulars of the case before him, its implications are quite significant for Ghana and developing countries in general—and also for their relationship with the international financial system.
Ever since authorities in the West African country detained the ARA Libertad last week on the basis of a court order obtained from a local tribunal, much of the discussion about the incident has taken its cue from the angry reaction of the Foreign Ministry spokesman in Buenos Aires who denounced the action as that of “vulture funds” and “speculators” who had “crossed a new limit” in their “extortion.” The rather undiplomatic implication was that Ghana is somehow a dupe, if not a stooge, of these malevolent predators. Yet there is another, more likely, explanation: by bringing the Argentines to book in the spectacularly dramatic manner which they did, officials in Ghana knew exactly what they were doing and acted in their own interest—and that of other developing countries—by holding an international scofflaw accountable.
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