May 25th marks the tenth anniversary of NÃ©stor Kirchner being inaugurated President of Argentina. At the time, few Argentines would have imagined what was in store for their country with the advent of the “K” — for Kirchner — Regime.
Especially after his hand-picked successor Cristina Kirchner
became president in 2007, later re-elected in 2011. A year
and a half into Cristina’s second term, Argentina is once again
roller-coasting increasingly out-of-control into what may yet
become another national catastrophe, marked by spiralling
inflation, a panic-driven foreign exchange clamp-down, economic
slump, increasing street violence, ferocious taxation of workers’
falling salaries and — worst of all — rampant, unprecedented
corruption at the highest levels of government.
It’s the economy, stupid…!
After her re-election, Mrs Kirchner thought she could easily
stay in power by continuing to subsidize the poor, divide the
opposition and pick fights with traditional sectors like the
Catholic Church, the armed and security forces, farmers, the
opposition media, and periodically whip-up “nationalist fervour”
with suitably staged measures.
Demanding the UK return the Falkland/Malvinas Islands to
Argentina, for example, even though her government has all but
disarmed the country’s armed forces. Or permanently harping
over the “desaparecidos” — the militants who disappeared under the
military regime of the ‘70’s – but never investigating Argentina’s
now almost $137 billion foreign debt whose roots
date back to that military juntas’ economic policies. Or
nationalizing Spanish oil company Repsol’s majority shareholding in
Argentina’s YPF, which NÃ©stor and Cristina Kirchner helped
privatize 21 years ago. Or attacking the opposition media by
promoting “democratization of the press”, with government taking
over key media conglomerates putting them in the hands of
pro-Kirchner frontmen and targeting “Clarin”, the country’s largest
group. More recently, by “democratizing” the Judiciary: a
euphemism for bringing it under the full control of the executive
Most of this has been high profile government propaganda often
serving as smoke screens to hide deeper economic trouble brewing in
the dark, involving three key factors that are now all but out of
control: inflation, the rapidly depreciating Argentine Peso and
gross corruption at the highest levels of government that has all
but halted local and foreign investment and trust.
Inflation & Devaluation
First and foremost, then, inflation, which for two years has
been eroding workers’ salaries at a time when government deficit
spending translates as ferocious, record level tax pressure on all
Private consultancies put annual inflation at 30 to 35 per cent,
but the official government figure put out by the INDEC government
statistics office under the grip of powerful commerce secretary and
Kirchner insider Guillermo Moreno, says it is “just 10.8%”.
This is so laughable that even INDEC’s employees publicly
denounce such blatantly falsified data.
When a Greek journalist recently asked Economy Minister HernÃ¡n
Lorenzino a simple question – “What is Argentina’s
inflation?” – a visibly terrified Lorenzino looked at the
camera, asked for the interview to stop and was then heard twice
pleading, “I want to leave…! I want to leave!!.
He knows only too well that telling the truth about inflation
will get him into huge trouble with Mrs Kirchner, Mr Moreno and the
militant Marxist organization “La Campora” led by presidential son
Maximo, which today runs much the economy as well as key state
companies such as YPF, flag carrier AerolÃneas Argentinas which
losses around 3 million dollars a day, the Central Bank, and the
ANSES Public Pensions Fund.
Last year, the government went into panic-mode imposing an all
but full exchange clamp-down, especially in US Dollar trading, for
decades a key financial indicator. During its first eight
years in power, the Kirchner government artificially kept it stable
at around 3 pesos per dollar. However huge government
deficits and payment of Argentina’s foreign debt forced the
government to do everything necessary to get its hands on every
dollar in town. Result: no dollars for anybody; whether for
travelling abroad, or imports, or the real estate market which
traditionally uses the dollar to offset endemically high local
inflation, or for foreign companies to pay dividends abroad.
The official rate has now peaked to over 5.35 pesos whilst the
black market rate — which did not even exist until around a year
ago — pierced the 10 peso mark a few weeks ago.
But what has become a prime source of national concern is
massive government corruption in which money
stolen by Kirchnerites runs anywhere from one to many billions of
Dollars, or rather Euros, since we have now discovered Mr
Kirchner´s fetishist obsession with 500 Euro bank notes.
Kirchner’s own former deputy-governor of Santa Cruz Province,
Eduardo Arnold, went public describing how he relished touching
large bundles of cash, filling his pockets, safes and vaults with
it. A private video from several years back just surfaced
showing Mr K joking with a group of cronies whilst caressing a
large safe exclaiming “this is ecstasy to me!”.
Sadly, the “K Corruption List” is very long:
- In 1993 as governor of Santa Cruz Province he expatriated 654
million dollars in public funds into tax havens of which only small
amounts trickled back; when a local lawsuit was filed on this case
he maneuvered the case and ended up being acquitted by judge
Santiago Lozada who is his nephew-in-law;
- Widespread public works bribery in the Infrastructure Ministry
run by crony Julio De Vido; when former economy minister and
whistle-blower Roberto Lavagna publicly disclosed this in 2005, Mr.
K promptly fired him;
- Embezzlement of government railway subsidies under crony
transport ministers Ricardo Jaime and Juan Pablo Schiavi; both are
under investigation over a railway accident that killed 51
passengers in February 2012 in Buenos Aires’ derelict, run-down and
unmaintained passenger trains;
- Cristina Kirchner’s 2007 presidential campaign funding where a
Venezuelan crony was caught trying to bring into the country a
suitcase stashed with 800.000 dollars cash “for Cristina’s
campaign”, as well as campaign contributions from illegal drug
- Public funding for the “Madres Plaza de Mayo” NGO – a front for
70’s terrorists’ rights — embezzled by its head Sergio Schoklender
(who spent decades in jail for murdering his parents in 1981),
whose treasurer is Felisa Miceli, a former K economy minister
forced to resign in 2005 after bundles of hard cash were found in
her ministry toilette.
The list goes on and on…
In all these cases friendly “K” judges are systematically
appointed to hear in these cases which are then suitably diverted,
mismanaged, delayed, hushed up and closed.
In recent weeks, Jorge Lanata, a well-known left-wing
investigation journalist acting as spokesman for the “Clarin”
multimedia group, began showing very concrete and convincing
evidence on his prime-time Sunday evening TV program.
K-frontmen were shown collecting so much cash for their
bosses that they would not even bother to count it but rather
weighed huge bags containing 500 Euro notes which were then whisked
off on private jets to tax havens in Panama and Belize, and to the
K’s home province of Santa Cruz.
Strong rumours have it that the K’s had a bank-size vault built
into their private residence to store billions. Some even
believe that NÃ©stor Kirchner’s mausoleum (he died in rather unclear
and disturbing circumstances in October 2010) might be “full of
money and empty of a corpse”.
The truth is that all close “K” cronies have become filthy rich
over the past decade:
Again, the list goes on and on and on…
Argentina: a Money-laundering Haven
Inflation + Devaluation + Corruption = an explosive formula
The K Economic Team’s wondrous solution to all this? 10
days ago Cristina Kirchner declared a full “don’t ask / don’t tell”
illegal funds jubilee to try to get Argentines with foreign
deposits (estimated at 180 to 220 billion) to repatriate them by
paying no taxes, without having to justify where the money came
from. Music to local and international money-launderers!!!
Especially with all the local front-men ready to lease their
names and shell companies to drug cartels and arms dealer willing
to pay a nice “commission”.
All of this at a time when Argentina’s hard working middle class
is under ferocious pressure from AFIP — the government tax office —
that milks workers at record high tax collection rates. The
message is clear:
If you’re an honest worker,
you’re in real trouble;
If you’re a money-launder,
the government easily gets you off the hook.
In practical terms, Argentina has now become an international
tax haven, something which some rather nasty people in Mexico,
Colombia and elsewhere must be eagerly watching.
Cristina Kirchner herself is also in dire straits trying to
explain how she managed to grow her officially declared assets
tenfold to 70.000.000 pesos by 2011, then equivalent to around 20
When she visited Harvard University last year, a young student
raised her hand to ask exactly that question, to which a visibly
uneasy Mrs K replied that she was “a very successful lawyer”.
Pity that there isn’t single court in Argentina’s judicial
system having record of any legal lawsuit where Cristina Lawyer may
have been awarded fees remotely anywhere near those amounts.
The scandal grows by the hour.
Again, K’s former deputy-governor Eduardo Arnold went public saying he too believed there were
money-filled vaults in the K home and mausoleum hiding tons of
Euros. NÃ©stor K’s former private secretary (kicked out by Mrs K)
publicly declared she had heard and seen key K “helpers and
assistants” carrying and talking about bags stuffed with kilos of Euros. K´s architect
who built his residence actually showed the house plans and exact
location of the vault on national TV. Knowing of K’s
preference for 500 Euro bank notes, that vault could have housed up
to 3 billion Euros…
Meanwhile, K shock-troop urban groups like “La Campora” and
“Vatatyon Militante” are manned by throngs of lumpen thugs thrown
onto the streets at a moment’s notice to barricade, picket and
harass their way across the country, shutting down highways, taking
over public parks and squares. and terrorizing the population at
large — the middle class in particular. Rumours abound of
their weapons arsenals. This is their way of fighting for Cristina
K’s “Model” of government.
This has brought millions of opponents out on the streets,
especially the vast and still unorganized working middle class
which is getting increasingly fed up with the K-Regime. Mass
middle-class anti-government demonstrations took to the streets on
September 13th and November 8th last year and, more recently, on
With legislative elections set for October and the situation
growing worse say by day, this promises to be a very complicated
year for Argentina.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
This article originally appeared on : RT