…… in one easy leap (via the Clintons)
Argentina, I think, might as well just institute a monarchy. If the Peróns were treated with the sycophancy normally reserved for royal couples, the Kirchners have benefited from the same adulation.
Not a country that I have ever known much about. My cousin living in Brazil occasionally talked about Buenos Aires in that patronising way so beloved of ex-pats, and when she came to London we went off to see Evita. I was most surprised to enjoy it.
But otherwise? Argentina had cattle and gauchos as far as I knew. I thought they delivered Fray Bentos corned beef, but seems that is Uruguay.
Living in Spain though, watching Spanish television, and reading Spanish newspapers, it was hardly surprising that South America featured highly. Spain probably wishes they still had South America, just like they want Gibraltar.
Lying in the bath one day, I was reading about Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Actually the article was about both her, and her husband Néstor who was president of Argentina at the time. What I do remember from that article was a comment saying that she was rather astute and might well run for president. Hillary Clinton anyone?
So who is this royal couple? Or were, as Néstor died in 2010 aged sixty from a heart attack.
The couple met at the same university where they were both studying law. They were both Peronists and members of the Justicialist Party, (successor to the Peronist party), a so-called centre group which is left-wing on some issues and right-wing on others. Par for the course with Perón politics. Néstor was around for Juan Perón’s return from exile in 1973 – on 20 June – and had promoted his return.
What else did these two bright young legal sparks have in common? His ancestry is Chilean, Croatian, Swiss, German. Hers is Spanish and German.
They worked together as lawyers in private practice during one of Argentina’s many blood baths, notoriously the anti-communist Triple A death squad. With the restoration of democracy (whatever that may be) Néstor entered public office.
He spent 20 years in local and regional politics and although not particularly well-known, finally ran for president in the 2003 election, which he won with the lowest percentage of votes ever, 22%, after Carlos Menem withdrew.
His presidency was credited with reducing poverty and unemployment, taking Argentina out of an economic crisis, and investing in social services and the domestic sector. He also tried to clean the corrupted slate and made big changes to top positions in the military, police and judiciary.
But let’s have a look at some controversy:
Joaquín Morales Solá, a political columnist for the Argentine newspaper La Nación, accused Kirchner of having a “personalistic style of governing, with a dose of authoritarianism and hegemony, an aggressive style of induced rupture and confrontation”, and recently diverse allegations of cronyism and corrupt practices by his government’s officials began to mount.
Controversy also arose when the Minister of Economy, Felisa Miceli, removed an officer of the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina in charge of calculating the inflation indexes, allowing Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno to hand-pick an official from outside the institution for the post, in what was seen as a move to manipulate official data.
In the last months of his presidency, Kirchner had to weather several scandals. His Minister of Economy Felisa Miceli was forced to resign over more than $60,000 found stashed in a bag in her office bathroom; and a businessman carrying a suitcase with US$800,000 in cash, on a government-hired jet traveling from Venezuela, was discovered at an Argentine airport.
Official reports from Argentina’s anti-corruption office show that the fortune of the Argentine presidential couple, President Cristina Kirchner and her immediate predecessor and husband, Néstor Kirchner jumped 20.6% in 2009 totaling the equivalent of 14.5 million US dollars, and soared 700% since they first took office in 2003. The couple and several of their closest aides have been accused of purchasing from the Santa Cruz province government (their political turf) land at rock bottom farm prices which rapidly were converted into urban and suburban districts in exclusive resort areas valued in millions of dollars.
Kirchner never fully accounted for an estimated US$ 1 billion that went missing from the public purse of Santa Cruz province during his tenure as provincial governor.
Whitewater? Before I get sued by the combined power and wealth of the Clintons and Kirchner, I am merely pointing out interesting similarities not making allegations :)
Finally, in true Peronist fashion, Nestor, like Juan Perón before him, had developed heart problems, he’d had two operations in 2010 and in October that year he died. Too many coincidences here.
Cristina had won the election in 2007, becoming Argentina’s first elected woman head of state. She is also only the second woman president after Isabel Perón, (Juan Perón’s third wife, and who wasn’t elected), and the first woman to be re-elected, in 2011.
So that magazine article I read was right. Cristina, oddly, or maybe not so oddly, follows the model set by Eva Perón. Not by Isabel, because she wasn’t too successful. She’s been known to speak in front of portraits of Eva, spends rather a long time on her clothes and make-up, and is never seen without high heels. Probably because she is somewhat short, although that doesn’t bother other powerful women. And since Néstor died, she has dramatically played the grieving widow routine by wearing nothing but black. Glamour, charisma, sex appeal, although nearly twice as old as Eva Perón.
Rumour has it the two Kirchners were planning on alternating the presidency, taking it in turns to run every four years. If so, bit of bad timing there Néstor, dropping dead in 2010. Wonder if Cristina has identified herself a successor to Nestor in the presidential marital stakes?
Naturally, like Néstor, Cristina has been rather gung-ho in the territorial issues. She’s even pissed off Spain by commandeering Repsol (Spanish fuel company):
President Cristina Fernandez said its expropriation was aimed at “recovering sovereignty” over natural resources.
The nationalisation alarmed investors but is said to be popular in Argentina.
Repsol demanded compensation of up to $10 billion (£6.2 billion) for its 57% stake.
The UK is supporting Spain.
Can you believe politics? Oh! This wouldn’t all be about oil would it? Now, if only we had some oil off Gibraltar… In that nice three-mile limit that Spain claims for fishing.
Here is an interesting one about the difference between now and 30 years ago…..
Kirchner’s recent prima donna acts, have firstly, been a performance at the UN decolonisation committee:
Kirchner made a highly unusual appearance at the UN decolonisation committee on Thursday to challenge Britain, which has steadfastly refused contacts on sovereignty.
“We are not asking anyone to say yes, the Malvinas belong to Argentina,” Kirchner said, using the Spanish name for the British-ruled islands. “We are asking no more, no less than to sit down and talk.”
Kirchner’s decision to speak to a committee that is typically the realm of mid-ranking diplomats is the latest move in her wide-ranging diplomatic offensive to assert her country’s claims to the islands, which the Argentine military invaded and occupied for 74 days in 1982.
Tensions between Argentina and Britain have escalated in recent months, especially since British companies have started to carry out offshore oil exploration.
Kirchner told the committee the fact that the Falklands remain under British rule and are not part of Argentina is “an affront to the world which we all dream of”.
“How can it be part of British territory when it’s 14,000 miles away?” she asked.
In London, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to defend the Falklands against new “aggression” and said there could be no sovereignty negotiations.
“My message to the government of Argentina is this: the UK has no aggressive intentions towards you. Accusations of militarisation and nuclear threats are hyperbole and propaganda,” he said.
Britain says it will agree to talks only if the 3,000 islanders want them.
Roger Edwards, a member of the Falkland Islands’ Legislative Assembly, told the committee the Falklanders’ right of self-determination was guaranteed under the UN charter and would be exercised in a referendum early next year on whether to keep British rule for the South Atlantic islands.
Followed by a spat with David Cameron at the latest G20 in Mexico. Come along Cristina. Problems at home too difficult to solve? Not enough money to develop the Vaca Muerta shale field and the alleged 23 billion barrels of oil equivalent?
Who cares whether it is 14,000 miles away from the UK? It’s a British Overseas Territory just like all the rest. What are you trying to do apart from colonise somewhere that wants stuff all to do with Argentina?
And what on earth is there to talk about anyway?
Sources: loads. Wiki, Bloomberg, BBC, ALJAZEERA, and more.
Postcard from South Georgia – part of the disputed territory. (Not disputed by the Islanders or the UK)