Argentinian Former President Faces Heat from Conservative Government

April 14, 2016Argentinaby EW News Desk Team

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Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was called to testify before the central bank this week for allegedly manipulating the Argentine peso during her tenure. Kirchner fiercely denied the allegations and has called the investigation a political attack against her legacy.

President Mauricio Macri won elections in December 2015 and has sought to undo most of the former president’s policies. Macri has also been implicated in the Panama Papers, which could damage his credibility as he attempts to reform the economy, while giving ammunition to his political enemies.  

Macri is steeped in a mini scandal of his own in wake of the Panama Papers revelation, but the allegations against Kirchner provided a slight distraction from his alleged misdeeds. The leak, however, has also implicated Kirchner, and she could face money-laundering charges as a result.

Further, the investigation into Kirchner is not entirely unwarranted, as she has faced numerous corruption allegations throughout her two terms as president. Moreover, several of her closest allies were arrested on corruption-related charges, and even though such arrests do not prove her guilt, her political future is on the line as judges and prosecutors, who may have been afraid to go after her when she was president, now feel emboldened.

Corruption has been a major problem for decades in Argentina, but Macri has pledged to crack down on government abuses, and Kirchner is a prime target.

Though the ex-president faces heavy scrutiny from the new right-wing government, she has drawn large crowds outside of the courthouse, revealing the enduring support she retains outside of her presidency. She and her husband became core figures within leftist political thought in Argentina, and she holds widespread support in Congress, which is a primary reason why Macri has faced some roadblocks throughout his reform efforts.

He is attempting to finalize a bond settlement with investors, and he met with President Barack Obama as a gesture of goodwill. Moreover, Macri has liberalized the economy, lifting central control that was notable under Kirchner’s administration.

A Kirchner downfall would undermine her influence within the public sphere, but Macri must tread carefully as he deals with the fallout from the Panama Papers reveal. Documents show his ties to an offshore company, but he pledged to establish a blind trust to establish full transparency of his assets.

Macri is in less trouble than Kirchner, but her fall could make her a martyr among dedicated loyalists in Congress and the public at large, and her prosecution could add more fuel to an already heavily polarized society.

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