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Corruption in Argentina

A few weeks ago, one of the most watched political TV shows had as a guest Jorge Molina -a former director of Aerolineas Argentinas- as part of a segment on corruption in Argentina. Specifically, the segment was devoted to report a possible complex, widespread and sophisticated network of systemic corruption at a high level that has been operating methodically resembling the works of a mafia organization of sorts. During the interview by host Mariano Grondona, the interviewee stated that sometime around September 2007 right before elections, he was visited by Manuel Vázquez -a former assitant to Secretary of Transportation Ricardo Jaime- who requested “aid” for u$d 1.5 millions for the electoral campaign. Molina then described how he instead offered to contribute what was legally permitted by the “ley de partidos politicos”, a sum considerably smaller.

Succintly, Molina made clear that he was not only coerced into funding the official political campaign at the time but also threatened with roadblocks on his actions as manager of the company if he didn’t cooperate by making it easy for Aerolineas to engage in certain transactions of very large amounts, in which pressumably Vázquez et al. would have had a bite. Interestingly, right after Aerolineas Argentinas was nationalized, the company finalized the purchase of 20 embraer planes from Brazil. The same transaction Molina refused to greenlight, adding that prices set for buying the planes looked stretched in many ways.

Ever since the death of Nestor Kirchner many political figures with ties to the administration have been voicing the need to “profundizar el modelo”. That is, to complete the structural changes initiated by Nestor Kirchner… whatever that means. In reality, digging deeper is hard to find anyone that can precisely explain what is or even how to “further Kirchner’s vision for Argentina”. It is possible that the common person in the street would view this change as one where unions acquire even more power and a bigger piece of the cake just as Moyano has been declaring recently that it is time for argentines to have a “worker” in the Pink House. For yet another group of perhaps more sophisticated citizens, this furthering may entail even more widespread redistribution of income dangerously depleting any wealth left. But for the more savvy bunch, it could just be that what all this really means is pursuing a method of governing where the figure of the government is used to access and acquire power over both private (nationalizing) and public resources with the ultimate goal of manipulating existing structures to facilitate the channeling of funds to those in charge.

Molina’s tale seems to point in this direction as much as many of the recent emails that have been made public through the investigation of the Jaime/Vazquez affair. It may be that a leftist and radical government may find it easier to enrich its own comrades by the use of their special powers. Something that can be vastly more difficult to accomplish if free market forces that make competition and efficiency mandatory where the order of the day. Unfortunately, the average criollo will hardly be able to connect the dots when not even 5 judges working on these and other cases of corruption in official agencies may be able to bring any light or prove any wrongdoing.

Here goes a hope and a wish for Argentina’s bright future… and a new rising model.

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