The Rolling Stones famously sang,

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.

Over in Argentina, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who came to power when her husband Néstor Kirchner died suddenly of a heart condition, sees a storm is threat’ning: She has been charged with money laundering for the fourth time.

Fernandez already faces trial in a separate case for alleged financial mismanagement in office and pending charges for allegedly ordering Argentina’s central bank to illegally trade derivatives, which cost the country $5.5 billion.

And let’s not forget the fourteen houses she “never declared” to the anti-corruption or the tax authorities.

So where does a grieving widow seek shelter from the upcoming storm?

She runs for Senate in the country’s most populous province, of course!

It so happens that, if elected, the seat (emphasis added)

would give her congressional immunity from federal prosecution for alleged money laundering and racketeering during her presidency.

As I was planning this post this morning, I was looking at the list of categories under which to file it. I opted for “are you kidding me.” Why? Because she’s ahead in the polls.

After Argentinians elected Mauricio Macri president, foreign investors hoped his administration would pass reforms to undo Fernandez’s chaotic economic policies, interventionist strategies and trade restrictions. Cristina’s campaign does not bode well:

The peso currency has lost 9 percent of its value since Fernandez declared her candidacy on June 24. The central bank has sold more than $1 billion in reserves in the past two weeks to stop the currency’s slide, including a $298.2 million intervention on Thursday.

Argentina may, once again, slip back into its old storms.

Attention: See Da Tech Guy’s pinned post!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Some guy running away from the law tossed US$7million over the monastery wall (emphasis added),

An official in the former government of President Cristina Fernandez was arrested on Tuesday as he allegedly tried to hide millions in dollars and other currencies at an Argentine monastery.

A neighbor of the monastery called authorities after seeing a man throwing bags onto the property near Buenos Aires early Tuesday. Officers arrived and arrested a man who turned out to be former Public Works Secretary Jose Lopez. Police initially detained him for possession of a .22 caliber rifle.

They then discovered wads of cash as well as the watches in more than 160 packages inside the bags. Other money had been taken to the monastery kitchen and some was found in the trunk of a car.

The police took him away wearing body armor in case someone tried to kill him – he probably has valuable information, not just cash and watches:

The police are still counting the money, which was in dollars, yen, euros and a currency from Qatar.

Qatar?

While this sounds like something from a Pink Panther or Austin Powers movie, it underlines a problem of corruption institutionalized deeply enough that a public works secretary – which is as local as a cabinet post can get – is hiding Qatari money in his possession. Since he is hiding it, is it unreasonable to assume it was obtained through unlawful means?

You may dismiss the story as “something that happens elsewhere.” But, when you have a presidential candidate where 20% of her campaign funds are allegedly coming from Saudi Arabia, and another one with alleged ties to the mob, you are not in a position to say, “it can’t happen here.”

UPDATE
It turns out that López allegedly had approved state-funded projects at properties of the Catholic Church in excess of $626billion pesos (US$45million):

A woman attending the Pope’s public audience in the Vatican called out for the Pope to condemn corruption.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

At the end of the 1974 crime drama Chinatown, Walsh drags Jake away from the scene and says one of the all-time classic lines in movie history,

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown

Earlier in the film, the plot has established that Chinatown is a lawless, dangerous place, where even the District Attorney advises its men to do “as little as possible.”

Fast-forward 41 years to Buenos Aires and the murder of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, the day before he was schedule to testify in front of the Argentinian Congress on the civil lawsuit he filed accusing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of colluding with Iran to hide evidence of Iran’s involvement (including current president Hassan Rouhani) in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center.

Among documents found at his apartment (the crime scene) was the draft of an arrest warrant for Fernandez.

Nisman was the lead investigator of a terrorist attack involving Iran, and possibly the foremost expert on Iran’s expanding operations in Latin America.

At first Fernandez tweeted it was suicide, later that it was murder. The facts of the case point to murder. However, it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out what really happened.

Argentina is a beautiful country, blessed with a variety of climates and terrains, rich soil, and a great port. But the political condition of the once-prosperous country for the last seventy years is rife with a history of assassinations and suspicious suicides; indeed, when I first heard of Nisman’s death, I called it a murder, even while I was being told it appeared to be suicide.

Sebastian Rotella wrote a lengthy article that must be read in its entirety. Rotella explains the details of the Nisman investigations, and includes “an experience [he] had in 1999 with a mysterious witness in the AMIA case.”

Jeremy Adelman posits that “The Nisman affair is a saga that braids together incompetence, corruption, and murder on a global scale.“ He asks,

At this stage, it is hard to know what is worse: the rot in Argentine public institutions that can’t investigate an atrocity after 20 years, the depths to which Argentine hopes for truth and accountability have plunged, or the sordid spectacle of a president personalizing a crisis she helped to create?

For now, two judges have declined to review the civil complaint Nisman filed the week before his death.

UPDATE:
BREAKING NEWS: Argentina’s President Fernandez Charged in Probe of Alleged Cover-Up (emphasis added)

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was charged by a prosecutor with trying to cover up the alleged involvement of Iranian officials in the country’s worst terrorist attack. Now a judge must decide whether to pursue the case.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s blog.

Alberto Nisman is dead. He was found dead in his one-bedroom Buenos Aires apartment on Sunday, hours before he was scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing on Monday to provide more details on his lawsuit accusing president Cristina Kirchner, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others conspiracy to cover up an investigation into Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community center (the WSJ has a list of 5 Things to Know About Argentine Bombing Probe).

Nisman’s investigations led to the indictment of Carlos Menem, who was president at the time of the AMIA attack for tampering with evidence that implicated a Syrian businessman.

Everything else surrounding Nisman’s death is a mystery.

The government’s Secretary for Security was on the scene before any of the investigating authorities (including the investigating prosecutor and the coroner’s office). Keep that foremost in your mind when you read anything on Nisman.

Here’s what has been revealed so far:

  • He was found in his bathroom in a pool of blood. Next to his body was a 22 caliber firearm and a bullet casing.
  • He died from a bullet to the head. Earlier accounts said the entry point was on his right side towards the rear of the ear; the official account says it was the right temple.
  • The gun that shot the bullet in Nisman’s brain was not his, although he owned and had permits for two firearms.
  • No gunshot residue was found on his body, ““unfortunately,
  • Nisman left a shopping list for his housekeeper.
  • Apparently none of the ten security officers assigned to protect Nisman was stationed on the thirteenth floor of the apartment building on which he lived.
  • His apartment has a main entrance and a service entrance, but all reports only mention the main entrance.
  • The investigating prosecutor calls it an “induced suicide.”
  • Ariel Lijo, the Argentinian judge who received Nisman’s 300 page complaint alleging the involvement of President Cristina ​Fernández de Kirchner and others in covering up Iran’s culpability for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA, ordered the seizure of all documentation and other evidence referred to in the complaint.
  • Authorities raided both his home and his office for all documents regarding any of his investigations.
  • Yesterday the government released a copy of the 300-page civil complaint against Fernendez that Nisman was scheduled to testify to Congress.

Nisman, who was barred by the Argentinian government from testifying on Iran’s increased influence in South America at a U.S. Congress subcommittee hearing in 2013, had asked Judge Lijo to freeze $23 million of assets belonging to Mrs. Kirchner and the others named in the complaint.

Who killed Nisman?

UPDATE

“Anyone could have opened it.”

  • Investigators found another means of access to the apartment through a hallway where the air-conditioners are located, with a door that leads to the apartment. They found a fingerprint and a footprint.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

 

since Bill Ayers was featured on Sept 11th 2001. Headline: An Apology to Maradona, a Rollicking Genius

We misjudged your appointment as coach. We believed that Julio Grondona, the 78-year-old president of Argentina’s soccer federation, had lost all sense of reason in asking you, a fading icon without a coaching badge, to pick up a broken national team and lead it through this World Cup.

Well, so much for so-called expertise.

The very next days, the big story in Soccer:

Germany Crushes Argentina 4-0, Advances to World Cup Semifinals

and Maradona?

Diego Maradona strongly hinted he was stepping down as Argentina’s national football team coach after their 4-0 whipping by Germany in a World Cup quarter-final match Saturday.

Ah the NYT always right on the ball.

But Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina has just managed a Hat Trick against South Korea in the World Cup.

The Score is 4-1. You would never know this was soccer.

Update: If you want to see why Americans aren’t interested in soccer check out the France Mexico game if you can stay awake.