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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Saving president Cristina

By: James Neilson

English: President of the United States Barack...

English: President of the United States Barack Obama and President of Argentina Cristina Fernández in 2009 Español: Cristina Fernández junto al presidente de EE.UU. Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nestor Kirchner made no bones about his plans for the future; he would use his time in the Pink House to pile up enough power and money to ensure that, should an ungrateful populace ask him to step aside for a while, he would be able to withstand the attacks of his enemies, watch his successors make a mess of things, and then return in triumph in order to sort them out. Though his premature death removed Néstor from the scene, his widow soon decided that as far as she was concerned it would be business as usual. Like her late husband, Cristina has concentrated on strengthening her own power base by siphoning money from the rest of the country into political organizations such as La Cámpora and the pockets of cronies that are more than willing to do her bidding.

But now it is all crumbling. The economy is sliding rapidly toward yet another hair-raising crisis that will impoverish millions of people. And to make matters far worse, stories about how Néstor and others systematically looted the country are finally beginning to have an impact. As long as the economic outlook seems promising, politicians can get away with just about anything, but when clouds gather on the horizon, an infuriated citizenry starts calling them to account.

Has that particular moment already arrived? Cristina and her minions evidently fear that it has. To judge from the hysterical statements that are being made by the president’s supporters, the government is panic-stricken. Instead of trying to deny the accusations that are being levelled against Néstor and, by extension, his widow and the picturesque assortment of characters that greatly benefitted from their patronage, they are doing their furious best to discredit the journalist Jorge Lanata, whose Sunday television programme has acquired more political importance than any parliamentary session, and, needless to say, the Clarín media group.
For years now the Kirchnerites have been painting Clarín’s CEO, an accountant named Héctor Magnetto, as an evil genius, an Argentine version of the incredibly powerful, but strangely elusive, enemy of the Party, Emmanuel Goldstein, in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, who is allegedly behind each and every setback suffered by Cristina. They are still at it. For those who take Kirchnerite propaganda seriously, Magnetto, a puppeteer so horrendously clever that they assume he is fully capable of manipulating not just the Argentine press but also the governments of the US and the European Union, as well as the United Nations, the Organization of American States and Wall Street, is behind all the nasty things that keep happening to them. Such paranoia is ridiculous, but then there is not much else Cristina’s defenders can come up with to deflect the allegations that are raining upon her head.

Saving Cristina from the increasing number of people who want her and her friends to face the music is not merely the government’s priority. It has become its sole objective. Everything must be subordinated to it. The onslaught against Clarín and other newspapers has intensified because the Kirchnerites desperately want to silence their critics. After failing to buy the country’s biggest media group, the government pushed through legislation designed to cripple it and then tried to starve it of funds by telling retailers to withdraw their advertising.

Now, if rumours that are going the rounds are to be believed, it is plotting to take it over by force, perhaps by sending in squads of armed La Cámpora heavies to kick out the owners, much as it did when Cristina restored what she called the nation’s “hydrocarboniferous sovereignty” by ejecting the Spaniards from their offices in YPF, after which most fled to Uruguay. In an effort to thwart her, Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri surprised many by decreeing that in his jurisdiction at least, press freedom, as guaranteed by the Constitution, would continue to prevail.

When the courts blocked measures that had been taken by the government to rid the country of Clarín, Cristina decided that the time had come for her to knock the judicial system into shape. Had it not been for the legal obstacles that prevented her from breaking up the group as speedily as she had hoped, it would never have occurred to her that it would be a splendid idea to let voters have a hand in choosing who should be judges, thereby “democratizing” the judiciary. Though Cristina may not be aware of it, that particular strategy could prove a bit risky. Like their counterparts in the rest of the world, only more so, Argentine judges tend to be influenced by the changes in political fashions. By the time elections are held, much of the population could be in an extremely vengeful mood. If that is the case, the next crop of judges would in all likelihood be men and women committed to putting those found guilty of helping themselves to large amounts of public money behind bars, in a common prison, for the rest of their natural lives. Needless to say, that it is not exactly what the Kirchnerites have in mind when they say they want the judicial system to be more democratic.



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