Since President Mauricio Macri took over the government of Argentina, in December 2015, several judicial investigations against officials from the previous administration acquired considerably more speed. This could be explained by the fact that some judges might have felt frightened to advance with these investigations before. But, undoubtedly, there were also judges who for years deliberately delayed investigations, and who could now be trying to get themselves rid of any responsibility (as the current government is trying to strengthen the constitutional mechanisms aimed at guarantying the transparency of the judiciary).
Hopefully, the change that Argentines are witnessing today is not a temporary fix, but a real step towards a more independent and effective justice system.
There has been, in this regard, considerable progress in a number of important corruption cases, and several former officials — including former Vice President Amado Boudou and former Minister of Public Works Julio de Vido — have been arrested.
There have also been advances in two cases that are particularly important. One of them is the investigation into the mysterious death of Alberto Nisman (the federal prosecutor who had been investigating the 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish center for over 10 years). Nisman was found dead in his apartment, in January 2015, a few days after accusing former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and some of her officials of negotiating a pact with Iran (known as Memorandum of Understanding or MOU) in order to get impunity for the Iranians accused in the AMIA case. After almost three years of shameful irregularities and delays, a report by the border police —signed by a large number of judicial experts — ruled out the hypothesis of suicide (that had initially been sustained by the former government) and established that the prosecutor was indeed murdered.
The other extremely important case is the one that investigates the complaint itself that Nisman made prior to his death. The judge of this case has already summoned most of the people accused by Nisman (including Kirchner and former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman) to testify. And there is a testimony that has particular relevance. Allan Bogado, who had been accused by Nisman of being a member of the "parallel diplomacy" that negotiated the agreement with Iran, said that he had actually been an undercover intelligence agent, whose mission was to investigate what both governments were plotting. According to Bogado, what the governments of Iran and Argentina had secretly agreed upon by signing the MOU, was the transfer of Argentine nuclear technology and know-how to the Iranians.
In his complaint, Nisman had said that the MOU had been signed to give impunity to the Iranians in exchange of some kind of commercial arrangement that included oil. But, if what Bogado testified proves to be right, Nisman could have underestimated the importance of the MOU since its main goal would have been to boost the Iranian nuclear program, in clear violation of the international sanctions in force at the time.
Kirchner, who has just been elected senator, portrays herself as the victim of political persecution. But she (and her supporters) are obviously worried about the many judicial investigations against her, particularly those related to Nisman. And perhaps this is why, in recent days, there were a number of anti-Semitic incidents, aimed at making the public believe that there is a "Zionist conspiracy” against her.
A congressman from the governing party, for example, who is also a former leader of DAIA (the Jewish umbrella organization in Argentina) was accused of being an agent of the Mossad and of defending "foreign interests" by another congressman close to Kirchner. Shortly after, a famous Jewish journalist was insulted in a public event, and a well-known Jewish writer received death threats.
It is not the first time that officials from the previous administration make use of anti-Semitic language to try to distract attention from the accusations against them. Shortly after Nisman's death, Kirchner openly supported an opinion piece that suggested that Nisman had participated in a Jewish conspiracy against her government.
Fortunately, Argentina today seems to have the necessary legal and institutional tools for these people (who were so unfairly targeted) to confront these vicious attacks in an effective way. And, hopefully, the proper functioning of the country’s democratic institutions will ensure that the truth is reached once and for all.
Adriana Camisar, is an attorney by training who holds a graduate degree in international law and diplomacy from The Fletcher School (Tufts University). She has been B'nai B'rith International Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs since late 2008. In 2013 she relocated to Argentina, her native country. Prior to joining B'nai B'rith International, she worked as a research assistant to visiting Professor Luis Moreno Ocampo (former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court), at Harvard University; interned at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs; worked at a children's rights organization in San Diego, Calif.; and worked briefly as a research assistant to the Secretary for Legal Affairs at the Organization of American States (OAS). To view some of her additional content, Click Here.
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