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Column 042213 Brewer

Monday, April 22, 2013

Argentinians Protest and Decry Corruption, Demand Democracy

By Jerry Brewer

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (60) of Argentina is rapidly losing her credibility as an estimated one million people took to the streets in protest last week, near the Obelisk in Buenos Aires. This was the third mass protest against her rule since last year.

Chants of "Defend Democracy and Justice" echoed across the widest avenue in the world -- Avenida 25 de Mayo, as many banged on pots and pans in symbolic unity of discontent with the current government's actions and direction.

President Fernandez has served as president since December 2007. She followed as president after her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who served as president of Argentina from 2003-2007, chose not to run for reelection, promoting instead the candidacy of his wife.

Nestor Kirchner, upon taking office, suspended the usual policy of automatic alignment with the United States.

Moreover, since 2003 Argentina has no longer supported the UN Commission on Human Rights resolution criticizing the "human rights situation in Cuba," that called upon the government of Cuba to "adhere to international human rights norms." The left leaning Argentine regime chose instead to abstain.

The combined Kirchner regime of husband and wife were quick to align closely with the rogue leftist and dictatorial regimen of socialism that brought much misery and destruction to Venezuela via the late President Hugo Chavez. Controversy would quickly follow with deception, subterfuge, and allegations of corruption.

Chavez made it no secret that he was an early supporter of Argentina's Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, before she was elected to office. Furthermore, Chavez was accused of an early illegal contribution from Venezuela to her presidential campaign.

Guido Antonini Wilson, a Venezuelan businessman with U.S. citizenship, arrived in Buenos Aires on August 4, 2007 on a chartered flight with Argentine energy officials and executives of Venezuela's state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). And Argentine customs agents caught him with a suitcase stuffed with US$800,000 in cash that he did not declare, which reportedly was from Chavez. Officials however called it a simple infraction and released Antonini Wilson, whereas Chavez denied the money came from him.

Chavez had been planning to visit Argentina in August of 2007, to refinance billions of US dollars in Argentine debt through bond purchases.

It was no secret that Chavez, who "controlled the hemisphere's largest oil reserves, lavished billions of dollars in foreign aid on leftist allies to promote his anti-U.S. Bolivarian Revolution" (Time, Sept. 03, 2008).

To impress the Kirchner's regime, and in a bizarre verbal attack in February 2010 on Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Chavez ranted: "Look, England, how long are you going to be in Las Malvinas? Queen of England, I'm talking to you. The times for empires are over, haven't you noticed? Return the Malvinas to the Argentine people. The English are still threatening Argentina. Things have changed. We are no longer in 1982. If conflict breaks out, be sure Argentina will not be alone like it was back then."

Chavez was apparently attempting to influence the management of possible oil reserves surrounding the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands. Venezuelan state run oil giant PDVSA had decided to explore the area surrounding the islands.

Then PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez Carreño said, "We discussed the need for oil and gas exploration in the territory and adjacent offshore areas, but we have to analyze the costs and time." President Fernandez de Kirchner aggressively took the lead and moved further by sending a letter to 15 British and American banks, "threatening them with legal action for advising companies or exploring for oil around the islands."

Furthermore, Cristina Fernandez has shown her loyalty to the Chavez regime since 2007 by entering into at least 39 bilateral agreements with Venezuela.

The current protests in Argentina echo many Chavez era accusations, in Venezuela, that decried mismanagement and corruption. Too, Cristina Fernandez has closely followed Chavez's actions by calling for an overhaul and stricter control of the judicial system. This is seen as an attempt to take over and control the court system. Legal experts say the reform would make it "very hard for people and companies to challenge laws and presidential decrees, especially those that expropriate private property" (The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 18, 2013).

Angry protester chants, such as "no to impunity," claim that this would undermine individual's rights and freedom, and that it would give the government the ability to impeach judges with a simple majority vote, instead of the current two-thirds majority.  Critics say the legal moves are designed to "prevent investigations into corruption and reverse a series of rulings against the government's attempt to dismember the 'Clarin' media empire." Last week Fernandez criticized a court order that declared essential parts of an overhaul of the press unconstitutional, reforms that would have forced Clarin to sell a large part of its cable assets.

Also last week, an association of bishops issued a statement warning that the judicial reform could further "weaken democracy."

And in more recent days, Fernandez's rule suffered new allegations that businessmen have laundered tens of millions of Euros, obtained from public work contracts, through offshore accounts.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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