Argentina: The Controversy Over Ex-President Kirchner's Purchase of Currency

The recent news in the Argentine press about the purchase of two million dollars by the former President Néstor Kirchner back in October 2008, at a time when the international financial crisis was beginning, has generated a lot of impact in the media, blogs, and social networks. Days after the news was broadcasted, Kirchner explained that the exchange transaction was to be used for the purchase of a hotel and that the transaction was registered and followed the legal limits established for the purchase of dollars.

However, the opposition and some members of the media are wondering whether the financial profit was obtained as a result to access to privileged information, as Kirchner is married to the current Argentine President, Cristina Fernández. Often those who purchase dollars do so out of concern of local currency devaluation. The issue has also been linked to the political dispute that the government has with the Clarín media company, which released the news.

The government stated that the news about the 2 million dollars is nothing new, as it was stated in the declaration of assets made by Kirchner last year. This statement, at the time, earned him a criminal complaint for illicit enrichment. However, a judge dismissed the case – even though the judicial ruling was questioned by the opposition. Now there are judicial requests to re-open an investigation into the assets of the Kirchner couple.

Photo of ex-President Nestor Kirchner by Mariano Pernicone and used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo of ex-President Nestor Kirchner by Mariano Pernicone and used under a Creative Commons license.

According to Jorge Omar Alonso of the blog La Historia Paralela [es]:

lo grave de esta situación es que supera incluso el delito que se conoce como tráfico de influencias. Es decir utilizar el acceso a una información sensible como la cotización del dólar por el desempeño de un cargo público (…) para beneficio personal.

the serious part of this situation is that it exceeds the crime of political corruption, that is, using his access to sensible information -such as the dollar exchange rate- thanks to his government position (…) for his personal benefit

More criticism can be found at the blog of Germán Angeli, who writes about the Kirchners’ “drama” and about the lack of transparency when it comes to the couple. In addition, Eduardo Castillo Páez of the blog Periodismo y Opinión [es] writes:

En medio de sospechas, acusaciones, explicaciones y los repugnantes obsecuentes de siempre, Cristina Fernández y su esposo siguen evidenciando un desinterés absoluto por la transparencia y ética que deberían guardar en sus conductas. No les importa un rábano de nada, hacen sus inversiones y negocios con la tranquilidad propia solamente de los que están convencidos de su absoluta impunidad.

In the middle of suspicion, accusations, explanations, and the usual nasty consequences, Cristina Fernández and her husband continue to show an absolute disinterest in transparency and ethics that should be displayed in their conduct. They do not care at all, they make their investments and business deals very quietly, convinced that they do so with absolute impunity.

Abel Baldomero Fernández of El Blog de Abel [es] writes that “personal honesty, unfortunately, is not a valid index of the quality of a ruler.”

On the other hand, Teodoro Boot of the blog Blog del Ingeniero [es], writes that this issue is about “a transaction made in October 2008″, which was stated in his personal income affidavit and was subject to reports to the Justice.

Lástima que se trate de una transacción del mes de octubre del 2008 que el matrimonio Kirchner, sin advertir ni amenazar a nadie, reveló en su declaración de bienes de ese año, y que en su momento provocó las consabidas indignaciones y las correspondientes denuncias por enriquecimiento ilícito, seguidas del oportuno proceso… y la reciente absolución de los acusados, que lograron demostrar que su patrimonio corresponde a la valorización inmobiliaria de las propiedades que adquirieron hace más de veinte años.

It is a shame that this is about a transaction from October 2008, where the Kirchner couple, under no warning or threat from anyone, revealed in their personal income statement from that year, and in turn, provoked the usual indignation and related claims that there was illegal enrichment, followed by the appropriate process … and the recent acquittal of the accused, who were able to demonstrate that their assets correspond to the recovery of real estate which they acquired over 20 years ago.

More opinions defending the government can be found at La Cosa y La Causa [es] and Banya08 [es]. This last blog points out the rift between the government and Clarin media, and which is a topic addressed by Fernández in her recent press conference where she defended her husband [es] and lamented the fact that all his actions are under such close scrutiny. In addition, at the press conference, Fernández wondered by the Clarín group is not being investigated itself for tax evasion.

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