Monday, August 10, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Argentine Election

"Argentina’s president exerts her influence before primary" by Peter Prengaman Associated Press  August 08, 2015

BUENOS AIRES — Cristina Fernandez isn’t on Sunday’s presidential primary ballot, yet the influence of Argentina’s leader is all around it.

The populist president known for fiery rhetoric and withering critiques of political opponents has been dictating the tempo of the campaign, buoyed by rising popularity despite a sluggish economy and a scandal that rocked her administration.

Barred from seeking a third consecutive term, she is making clear she will wield her clout through the Oct. 25 election and possibly beyond.

Opposition candidates have gone from criticizing the spending behind Fernandez’s social welfare policies, including energy and transportation subsidies and perks for poor, single mothers, to instead talking about modifying the programs or even building on them.

‘‘Previous presidents at this point were lame ducks. Fernandez is not,’’ said Maria Victoria Murillo, a professor of political science at Columbia University and an expert on Argentine politics. ‘‘She continues to be very effective.’’

Lame duck doesn't mean anything to me. If someone has the legal power of the office there is no such thing.

Sunday’s open primaries largely will be a trial run for the leading presidential candidates, who have all but won their party’s nominations. Voters also will select nominees for several gubernatorial and congressional seats.

Same here.

A candidate must get at least 1.5 percent of the total votes cast for that race in all the primaries to advance to the general election, effectively eliminating many minority party candidates.

The vote comes at a time when the South American nation of 41 million people is struggling. Independent economists put inflation at more than 30 percent, the Argentine peso has devalued sharply against the dollar in recent months, and a long-standing dispute with a group of US hedge funds has left the country shunned by foreign investment.

And yet(?) her popularity is up.

The major candidates have addressed these issues during heavily scripted events, but have been notably light on details about how they would solve them.

I'm so tired of pot-hollering-kettle media.

Daniel Scioli, the governor of the Buenos Aires province and a former vice president, is the governing party candidate vying to replace Fernandez. Mauricio Macri, the outgoing mayor of Buenos Aires and former president of the Boca Junior soccer club, is leading the opposition.

Sergio Massa, who has held Cabinet and elective posts, is running on his own ticket after breaking with Fernandez’s political movement, known as Kirchnerismo.

Scioli is up by as many as 10 points over Macri in recent polls, a significant bump after the two spent months in a tight race.

For both Scioli and Macri, the primaries are a chance to test their strategies. If Scioli wins by a big margin, he will likely continue to support Fernandez. By contrast, if Macri does poorly, he may return to stronger criticism of Fernandez’s spending to attract more independent voters.

Six months ago, few imagined Fernandez would be wielding such influence.

Her administration was clouded by the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Nisman was found dead Jan. 18, hours before he was to appear before Congress to elaborate on his explosive accusation that Fernandez plotted to cover up the alleged role of several Iranian officials wanted in a bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish community center in 1994.

Is that why he was killed, or was he going to expose another Israel false flag? Consider my source.

Fernandez denied the allegations and the courts later threw out Nisman’s case. Authorities have yet to charge anyone in the prosecutor’s death.

They know down there.

After months of promising to lead Argentines in a vastly different direction by attracting foreign investment, Macri did an about-face two weeks ago by saying he now supported Fernandez’s state takeovers of Aerolineas Argentinas airline and YPF oil company.


"Millions cast ballots in Argentina" Associated Press  August 10, 2015

BUENOS AIRES — Millions of voters in Argentina braved heavy rains on Sunday to weigh in on what the South American nation should look like after the departure of President Cristina Fernandez, a polarizing leader who spent heavily on programs for the poor but failed to solve myriad economic problems.

Voters cast ballots in open primaries for presidential candidates who had all but sealed the nominations in their respective parties, making the exercise essentially a giant national poll ahead of the Oct. 25 elections. Because of the rains and flooding in some streets in the Buenos Aires area, several polling places were relocated during the day.

With 10 percent of ballots counted by late Sunday, Fernandez’s successor candidate, Daniel Scioli, was leading with 36 percent of the vote. Mauricio Macri led opposition candidates with 30 percent, while Sergio Massa garnered 23 percent. Final results were expected on Monday.

The nation known for its soccer players, tango dancing, and choice beef is struggling with myriad economic problems. Independent analysts put inflation at over 30 percent and the Argentine peso has slid sharply against the American dollar in recent months. A long-standing dispute with US hedge funds that Fernandez calls ‘‘vultures’’ has kept foreign investors away.

Polls show voters deeply divided about how, and who, is best to tackle those issues.

‘‘We need improvements in every area of life,’’ Hector Ramirez, a 65-year-old doorman, said before polling stations closed Sunday. ‘‘Argentina is a glorious country with abundant resources. The problem has always been who is governing.’’

The primaries are expected to help the top candidates judge how their campaigns are faring ahead of the general elections — in particular how closely to align their platforms to the social welfare policies of Fernandez’s political movement, known as Kirchnerismo.

Scioli, the governor of the Buenos Aires province and a former vice president, has praised Fernandez’s policies but also promised to make reforms where necessary and be more amicable in dealings with other countries.

Macri, the former mayor of Buenos Aires and ex-president of the popular Boca Junior soccer club, has promised to make the country more business friendly and immediately lift all restrictions on citizens’ ability to buy US dollars.

He looks like the U.S.'s guy, no?

Massa, who held cabinet and elective posts before breaking with Fernandez, is running on his own ticket and promises to jail corrupt politicians. His bid is a longshot, though he has enough support to be a spoiler in the election.

Or help with a rigging.


"Top Argentine officials face charges in 1994 bombing" by Debora Rey Associated Press  August 07, 2015

BUENOS AIRES — More than 21 years after a bomb ripped through a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, ex-President Carlos Menem, a former top judge, and several other officials went on trial Thursday for allegedly derailing the investigation into the South American nation’s worst terrorist attack.

On a day of heavy rain, several of the 13 men charged in the coverup were ushered into the court and listened to the judges run down the charges. Menem, president between 1989 and 1999, was absent.

Rodrigo Borda, a lawyer for many families of the bombing victims, told reporters that Menem was not obligated to appear at this stage of the trial, which is expected to go on for months.

However, Borda said there would be times when the now 85-year-old would be obligated to appear, and that he would be jailed if he did not show up.

Prosecutors have accused Iranian officials of being behind the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, which caused the organization’s main building to collapse, killing 85 and leaving hundreds injured amid the rubble. But no one has been convicted in the attack, which many Argentines believe has come to symbolize an inept and corrupt justice system that operates at the whims of politicians and can be bought off.

I didn't know they were using the AmeriKan $y$tem.

‘‘Twenty-one years have passed and we know exactly what we knew a week after the attack,’’ said Adriana Reisfeld, whose sister was killed in the bombing, addressing the court and the men.

The men on trial include two former prosecutors, a former top intelligence official, former police officers, a Jewish community leader, and a mechanic who owned the truck carrying the explosives. The charges carry sentences of three to 15 years.

That's an odd assortment of characters.

The trial is expected to focus on how and why Menem and the others might have wanted to bury the initial investigation. Testimony likely will delve into geopolitics of the 1990s, and even into Menem’s Syrian ancestry and how that might have influenced him.

Ah, the Syrian connection!

Menem, whose parents immigrated to Argentina from Syria, is currently a senator representing La Rioja province where he was born.

Argentine authorities long have accused Iran and the militant group Hezbollah of being behind the attack.


Related: World War III: South American Sphere

Sorry for blowing the whistle on it.

NDU: Argentine president’s successor candidate wins primaries

I've read as much of it as you have.