The Journalist and the Accountant
Beatrice E Rangel
Hugo Machiavelli is an Argentinian investigative reporter who believes political leaders should be held accountable for their performance at public office. He has thus followed most political leaders recording their careers and their management approach to public funds. Throughout his career Machiavelli has seen Argentina rise to the challenges of modernity when for very short time spans takes the global highway only to suddenly retrench into populism.
The fall from grace usually takes the country one century back in terms of economic positioning and citizens wellbeing. The event is usually triggered by a civic mobilization against mistaken public policies that is wisely exploited by the populist establishment to avoid globalization and take back control of the country. Up to now most populist leaders had acted with impunity given the lack of consistency in the judiciary. But thanks to Machiavelli and other journalists of his generation and democratic creed it will be increasingly difficult for public officers to avoid accountability.
Machiavelli’s latest work is a chronicle of the corruption machinery created by the Kirchner family in Argentina which led to the end of the infrastructure modernization plan that was essential to increasing the country’s competitiveness. Indeed, while both the Alfonsin and Menen Administrations were keenly aware that to successfully compete in international markets, Argentina needed better and more modern, ports; airports, highways; railroads; dams, silos and agricultural warehouses. This was not to happen thanks to an elaborate corruption scheme designed by Nestor Kirchner and executed by his accountant Victor Manzanares.
The elaborate structure would turn public investments in infrastructure into a virtual Ponzi well to benefit the Kirchners, their loyalist and the supporting businessmen. The Kirchner enterprise ends up being the controlling shareholder of any venture that is conducted in Argentina. Foreign exchange transactions also produce a take that silently nurtures the Kirchner net worth. And there of course are all kinds of participation in bribes that are received in cash every week and deposited in the cellar of a house in Rio Gallegos, Santa Cruz Province in Argentina. Only these cash deposits could represent anywhere between $400 million and $ 800 million.
In short, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner built a parallel illicit economy that continues to thrive and that provides their political movement with enough resources to keep a very significant power quota. These developments that are revealed and deconstructed by Machiavelli to the dumbfounded reader have seen the light thanks to a thorough and long conversation with Victor Manzanares, the Kirchner accountant.
And while most followers of Latin American developments seldom are surprised by the presence of corruption, the truth Is that the blatancy and sophistication of the Kirchner scheme comes as a shock. Because it could have never been deployed without the support of the Argentinean society’s leadership. This leads one the believe that Argentina and Latin America are doomed to ruin . Because the triggering factor of development is the belief in rule of law . And a society whose leadership willfully participates in a corrupt organization evidently does not believe in the rule of law.
Machiavelli however is optimistic about the future of Argentina. To his mind, the Manzanares file has cornered the Argentina Judiciary into prosecuting the culprits, as his reports laid bare the criminality of the Kirchner deeds. By forcing prosecution, the roots of corruption will be destroyed and with it the successful political narrative of Argentinian populism. And once Argentina experiences its ‘Lava Jato” moment the country will take Brazil’s development route. Both nations would then support each other in their quest for freedom and prosperity. I simply pray that Machiavelli is right.
Published by Laht.com Monday, January 27, 2020
“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”
Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O’Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador. You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.