THE ARGENTINIAN “LAVA-JATO” – SAME METHODS ARE USED UNDER MACRI AS IN THE BRAZIL OF TEMER – The “Lava-Jato” [1] in Argentina takes the form of ‘the Note-books Scandal’ [2]. It aims at turning the attention of people away from the catastrophic neo-liberal measures of Mauricio Macri [3]. Acting through the Judiciary which it controls, the Executive in Argentina is triggering a tremendous crisis. Helped by top sectors in the media, the Judiciary is now investigating the so-called “Note-books K” [4] with particular records of corruption in them.

The Argentinian Daily La Nacion points out that the economic and social crisis of the country is rampant, and that the present government finds it uncontrollable; one of its journalists reported that a minister said to him: “Since the people have no bread, let them have circus”. 

Before all this came out, Christine Lagarde of the IMF had paid a visit to Argentina. In a climate of high social tension, the IMF wants to impose on Argentina the austerity measures it forced Greece to knuckle under. As Argentina goes on borrowing – its debt is now $30 billion – Macri has to prove to the IMF that he has enough control to guarantee the repayments, through yet more cuts in salaries, the Social Security budget and every kind of State spending. 

During that same period, it came to light that 269 members of the present government hold 890 posts in private enterprises. In the country meanwhile, big protests are everywhere to be seen against the price rises and unemployment, the deep cuts in Public Education and the alarming growth of poverty. 

After having compared notes between them, the Journalists for the Truth [5]  denounced the falsification of the electoral lists of Cambiemos-PRO [6]. They found that 3,500 citizens’ donations had been recorded under false names, or names stolen from administrative archives. Later, some of these persons testified to never having made any donation to Cambiemos-PRO (an electoral platform) or contributed to its political party. 

Such was the political climate when the scandal of the mysterious ‘Note-books K’ broke out. No one doubts that this is a manoeuvre on the part of those in power; and that the latter want to distract people from the Macri’s economic disaster and political bankruptcy. Faced with the loss of his electoral base, Macri needs this Argentinian type of ‘Lava-Jato’ to rubbish Cristina Kirchner and her supporters [7]. This is done by taking certain real facts out of context, although most of this uncovers the corruption of the Cambiemos’ high officials. 

This story is like a film. But this ‘film’ has already come out in Brazil. There, the very journal Globo has already mediatized its judgement of it: wild accusations, no proofs needed, only the conviction of being right. All this was used to take down President Lula da Silva. On the 1st of August, this same ‘film’ came out in Argentina, only the actors were changed. There was the mega police-raid in the small hours of the morning. This time, the raid led to the arrest of 14 ex-members of the previous Kirchner government along with a few entrepreneurs, on strength of incredible and ridiculous evidence, like these photocopied note-books.

a page of Note-Book No. 2 as published in La Nacion, Argentina, 2.8.2018
a page of Note-Book No. 2 as published in La Nacion, Argentina, 2.8.2018

Photocopies of note-books were made public by a former soldier who became chauffeur for Roberto Baratta, the then Minister for Planning in the previous government of Kirchner. The notebooks mention, although with no proofs, the payment of millions of dollars in bribes to contractors [8]and to State functionaries during the 2003-2015 Kirchners’ period – some of whom are now deceased. But where are the note-books’ originals? One sees no trace of them.

Opponents to the Macri government see in this matter the same aims that stood behind the ‘Lava-Jato’ of Brazil. In Brazil, this method was used to take down Lula da Silva and the Workers Party (PT). Here, the idea is to discredit Cristina Kirchner and stop her standing for President in 2019 – particularly now that Macri’s popularity has withered away and her popularity is strongly on the rise.

Dictatorship is finding new ways to impose itself. It no longer uses soldiers and tanks. It only needs mediatised falsehoods and the techniques of montage. But this shows powerlessness too. It shows the incapacity to set up a military coup of State against the mobilised masses across Latin America.

The media conceal the real facts : 

Whilst the ‘Note-books K’ were fluttering wildly in the media, other news were being buried. One of these was the announcement of the release of the film-documentary “Santiago’s Path” by Tristan Bauer [9]; and that it was coming out on 1st August 2018, day of the first anniversary of the death of Santiago Maldonado [10]. This film investigates Santiago’s murder, and the causes, that remain unknown. 

On the day of the premiere, only one TV channel (C5N) had announced that it was going to happen, and that it would be at the Ateneo Theatre in Buenos Aires. On the day itself, the theatre was attacked by 15 masked men who broke the entrance windows and compromised the physical integrity of participants. No security service was in place. Those characters were able to barge-in violently and with perfect impunity. At that same moment, the TV station was receiving a bomb alert, which turned out false. The workers there stood their ground as courageous defenders of the right to communication. 

The popular struggles in Argentina :

On the 2nd of August, there was an explosion in the Moreno school, in a poor area of Buenos Aires’ province. The headmistress and the caretaker were killed. This shook the teaching world, provoking a general strike, a demonstration and the declaration of “Education in Mourning”. At the funerals, people denounced the precariousness, the state of insecurity in the schools and the way Public Education is being abandoned. The example of these two murdered workers merits a highlight. For they paid unjustly with their lives for a social engagement which is shared by the majority of the profession in the country.

At the heart of this mobilised Argentina, a second stage in the Women’s struggle is being prepared. Their demand is for the legal right to free and safe abortion. The first stage had consisted in presenting a Draft Law, which had then been approved by Parliament, but which still needs to pass the Senate on 9 August [11].  

Popular consciousness grows with each government attack on the social rights and the constant threat to suppress the democratic rights. The government wants to involve the army more and more in repressive roles, but Argentina has not forgotten. It remembers all that happened under the military dictatorship of Videla [12]. If it keeps its memory, it is for a great part thanks to the persistent struggles of the Mothers and Grand-Mothers of Plaza Mayo[13]. Only recently, they have traced the 128th stolen child, the son of a Tucuman woman who disappeared in 1976.

Running along this, the trade union movement gets stronger and more unified in spite of all the attempts at stifling it. The Labour Ministry decided to slap absurd fines on the Truck-drivers’ trade union, and on the Teachers’ union. Cristina Kirchner held a meeting recently with the leaders of SMATA (Metal workers’ union) and others from the CGT Truck-drivers. She had lost touch with them  for a long time during the years of her government. This meeting between herself and the workers is favourable to the organisation of a mass politico-trade union United Front, against the Macri’s neo-liberal government.

From our correspondent in Argentina, 5.8.2018

The feature-photo shows Education personnel and Professors protesting the death of the headmistress and caretaker in a bomb’s explosion at the Moreno school in Buenos-Aires Province.

[1] Lava-Jato: Refers to a workplace in Brazil from where big corruption was identified. This phrase now refers to the supposed cleansing of corruption; it originated in Brazil where neo-liberal Temer came to government through a judicial coup (on 31.9.2016) against Dilma Roussef – herself pronounced corrupt – who had won the 2011 Presidential elections, (following Lula).

[2] These are the photocopies of note-books said to be recording illicit political payments in cash. They were created by Oscar Centeno, the driver of a government official in the former Kirchner’ government. The official would have paid bribes to the CEOs of private companies – a number of these are said to have admitted guilt. Accusations are now reaching the ex-administration of Cristina Fernandes Kirchner, the previous President of Argentina (2007-15).

[3] Mauricio Macri – President of Argentina since 2015. He belongs to Cambiemos, a collection of centre-right political parties and groups.

[4] One presumes that ‘K’ stands for Kirchner (Cristina Fernandes).

[5] “Journalists For the Truth, a left-wing investigative group whose TV programme is called EL DESTAPE.

[6] Cambiemos-PRO is a right-wing platform. It never won any elections for Mauricio Macri. All it did was to help impose him by force on the country through a judicial coup. Its only programme is austerity.

[7] The next presidential elections are coming up in 2019.

[8] Involved in receiving payments were the CEOs of companies like Lecsa, Techint, Grupo Albanesi, Electro-Ingenieria, the Chamber of Construction, Investment companies. Through the same use of ‘plea-bargaining’ as in Brazil, some of these people were let go, whilst accusations are allowed to focus on Cristina Kirchner and her ex-officials.

[9] One of the screenwriters for this film is Florencia Kirchner, daughter of Cristina and Nestor Kirchner. On the evening of the film’s presentation in Buenos Aires, masked men looking like anarchists attacked the building, breaking the windows from the front, after having waited for the human rights organisations to go in.

[10] Santiago Maldonado was a young militant who supported the right of the Mapuches to return to their lands. He disappeared on 1.8.2017. His dead body was eventually found in the river. There were large demonstrations at the time, to demand investigations and justice. The government did not investigate seriously and is now trying to close the case.

[11] Unfortunately, the Senate voted down this abortion law on 9.9.2018.

[12] Videla’s dictatorship, 1976-1981.

[13] Association of the Mothers and Grand Mothers whose children were ‘disappeared’ by State terrorism 1976-1983.

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