Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

Argentine workers strike over taxes; transport paralysed

| March 31st, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Eliana Raszewski and Jorge Otaola

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s public transport networks ground to a halt on Tuesday, while port workers at the grains export hub of Rosario downed tools and banks shut their doors as a one-day strike to back demands for changes to income-tax rates gripped the country.

The strike caused major disruptions to domestic air travel, while garbage was left piling up on sidewalks and many businesses stayed closed as employees struggled to reach work, frustrating owners already grappling with a weak economy.

In the face of high inflation, the transport unions spearheading the strike are demanding Argentina’s leftist government raise the minimum threshold on paying income tax.

The unions complain that more workers will have to pay tax if double-digit salary hikes designed to keep pace with inflation are awarded without lifting the threshold for the lowest tax bracket.

... Read More

Can Argentina Capitalize On Its Vast Shale Reserves?

| March 31st, 2015 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Alexis Arthur

Argentina, once a regional energy leader, is now better known for financial busts and bombastic politicians than hydrocarbons prospects. Still, with a resource potential both vast and untapped, the nation has never been far from energy investors’ minds. The question today is just how much Argentina is willing to change and how this plays into a low oil price environment that is already negatively impacting investment elsewhere.

Argentina’s deliberate efforts to appease some of its international creditors, combined with an overhaul of the nation’s hydrocarbons framework have the potential to lure foreign investors back. The promise of a change of government– and potentially a more market-friendly approach – later this year should add to the country’s appeal.

Experts have kept a watchful eye on Argentina ever since the US Energy Information Administration identified the nation as holding the world’s second largest shale ... Read More

Appeals court dismisses Iran cover-up charges against Argentina president

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

A federal court of appeals dismissed charges against the Argentinian president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on Thursday, regarding an alleged conspiracy to shield Iranian officials’ from prosecution over their alleged role in the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community centre.

The charges had originally been made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, four days before he was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in his Buenos Aires apartment.

On 14 January, Nisman had presented a 289-page writ in court that he said unveiled a conspiracy headed by Fernández to clear five high-ranking Iranian suspects of charges that they had masterminded the 1994 bombing of the Amia centre, in which 85 people were killed.

In a 2-1 vote, appeals judges dismissed Nisman’s accusation, but there is a strong likelihood that prosecutor Germán Moldes – who upheld Nisman’s charges before the judges – may appeal the decision to a higher court.

Fernández and other ... Read More


| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »

WASHINGTON, DC — The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is among the terrorist organizations that are benefiting from the illegal drug trade in Latin America, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), told lawmakers.

Illegal drug trafficking in Latin American generates at least “tens of millions” for Hezbollah, which uses the funds to fuel its operations in the Middle East, explained the Southcom general.

During a hearing this afternoon held by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, Ron Johnson (R-WI), the panel’s chairman, asked the general to comment on the nexus between drug traffickers and terrorist organizations in Latin America.

“Mr. Chairman certainly in a classified setting we can give you a lot more detail. Suffice it to say from open source, I think we know that in at least several occasions over the past decade and a half, terrorists have attempted ... Read More

Cleaning up Latin American democracy

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

During the multitudinous demonstration against Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, in São Paulo on March 15th, a lunatic fringe chanted for a return to military rule. That was sad more than worrying. The rightists were shouted down. Their isolation served to underline how routine democracy has become in many Latin American countries in the third of a century or so since the generals returned to barracks.

That outcome was not inevitable. Compared with Europe or North America, democracy in Latin America must struggle against big obstacles, including poverty, gaping income inequality and corruption. Another is poor institutional design. Latin America combines directly elected presidents, as in the United States, with multiparty legislatures chosen by proportional representation, in the manner of many European parliamentary systems. The result has often been gridlock: weak governments have lacked majorities in legislatures unthreatened by dissolution, which induces consensus in parliamentary regimes.

These ... Read More

AEROTERROR: A regular flight from Caracas to Tehran carried more drugs and money than people

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

By Linette Lopez

From 2007 to at least 2010, there was a flight from Caracas, Venezuela to Tehran, Iran that made a stop in Damascus, Syria.

Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly called it ‘Aeroterror.’ Only government officials with a special clearance were permitted to fly on it, and there were often very few passengers.

Instead, according to US government testimony and a report by Brazilian paper Veja, the plane was laden with drugs, weapons, and cash.

Since the mysterious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, Iran’s presence in South America has come into focus. Nisman died the day before he planned to testify that the Argentine government had covered up Iran’s involvement in a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack. He had spent about a decade investigating Iran and Hezbollah’s growing presence in the Western hemisphere.

High-level Venezuelan defectors then started talking to Veja journalist Leonardo ... Read More

Here’s Why U.K.-Argentina Tensions are Rising Again Over the Falklands

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Time

By Harvey Morris

Argentina still poses a “very live threat” to the British-ruled Falkland Islands, Britain’s defense minister warned on Tuesday as he announced plans to increase security spending on the South Atlantic islands to counter Argentina’s attempts to improve its military.

Michael Fallon told Parliament the government planned to spend £180 million ($268 million) over the next 10 years to boost the security of the islands as part of a defense review, although the level of military and civilian personnel involved would remain at around 1,200.

“The principle threat to the islands remains,” he told legislators. “I am confident that, following this review, we have the right deployment.”

The minister’s announcement comes as Argentina has been trying to upgrade its military capabilities. It has looked at buying new warplanes and has signed a co-operation deal with Russia that could result in it leasing Russian bombers in return ... Read More

Never the next great power: Argentina’s future is always stuck in the past

| March 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters By Daniela Blei

Argentina, mired in corruption and ineptitude, has swallowed Alberto Nisman – and the truth.

The stunning death of the federal prosecutor, the day before he was to testify before the Argentine congress about his allegations against the country’s president and a more than decade-old unsolved bombing, has confirmed — as if more proof were needed — that Argentina is its own worst enemy.

Argentina entered the modern world with great expectations. Its European genealogy and natural resources were taken as virtual guarantees of prosperity and progress. Visitors to Buenos Aires produced a literary genre of their own, fawning over the “sumptuous boulevards” of a cosmopolitan city that was heralded as “the capital of the continent.”

This is the starting point for just about every narrative of Argentina. Its “incomplete modernity,” its status as a “stillborn great nation” or a success story that somehow derailed makes it ... Read More

Iran and Argentina: The Defectors’ Tale

| March 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Did Hugo Chávez act as a bagman for Iran in its effort to get nuclear technology from Argentina? That’s the claim made by three former members of the Venezuelan dictatorship’s inner circle cited anonymously in a March 14 story in the Brazilian magazine Veja.

The magazine says it didn’t name the defectors, interviewed in Washington, to protect their family members back in Venezuela. But it reported that they were questioned separately and each said there was a deal in January 2007 between Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas. Venezuela would deliver Iranian money to Argentine officials in exchange for two favors for Tehran.

The first favor they described, according to Veja, was that Argentina would cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center (known by its Spanish initials as AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The second favor was that Argentina would “share their long experience in [a] ... Read More

Israeli minister accuses Iran of Argentina terror attacks

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Israel’s agricultural minister on Thursday accused Iran of orchestrating two terrorist attacks in Argentina in the 1990s and urged the world not to negotiate with the Middle Eastern country on the future of its nuclear program.

Agricultural Minister Yair Shamir led a delegation to Buenos Aires to commemorate the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy that killed 29 people and wounded hundreds.

“Iran continues to sow destruction and horror in all the world, but the world continues on as if nothing was happening,” Shamir said, speaking in Hebrew and accompanied by a Spanish translator.

Shamir, the son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, said the world takes on a “hypocritical attitude” that ignores that Iran is aiming “at the civilized world, including Israel.”

Israel and Argentina have ... Read More

Macri secures crucial electoral alliance

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist


The decision of the centrist Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) to agree an electoral alliance with the right-wing Propuesta Republicana (Pro) party has shaken up the electoral scene and raises the likelihood of a close presidential election in October, leading to a run-off vote in November.


During the party’s national convention, UCR representatives voted in favour of a proposal by the party president, Ernesto Sanz, to form an electoral alliance with the Pro, led by Mauricio Macri, the mayor of the capital, Buenos Aires, and a leading contender for the presidency. Debate over a deal has been ongoing for months, but left-leaning members had resisted, instead favouring a possible alliance with Sergio Massa, the leader of the Frente Renovador, an anti-government faction of the Peronist party. The shift towards Mr Macri began in February, when Elisa Carrió, an influential politician and leader of the centrist Coalición ... Read More

Argentina wants to hold Citigroup hostage

| March 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

By Linette Lopez

This is probably not the best way to attract foreign business to your country.

Citigroup has found itself in an incredibly uncomfortable position in the case between Argentina and a group of hedge fund creditors suing the country for over $1.3 billion in defaulted debt.

The bank wants to leave Argentina, but Buenos Aires says that’s not happening.

Citigroup wants to exit its custody business in Argentina because, as it said in a statement, the bank faces an “unprecedented international conflict of laws” in its current position.

Argentina insists that the bank distribute funds to a select few of Argentina’s creditors. A US court ruling prevents Citi from doing that.

So Citi sees exit as its only option. But a senior Argentine government source told Reuters that The Republic won’t allow Citigroup to leave.

“There is no way we will let them exit their ... Read More

As Argentina and Hedge Funds Battle, Citigroup Bows Out

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times


The nasty battle between Argentina and a group of New York hedge funds has claimed another victim: Citigroup.

The bank said on Tuesday that it would shut its custody business in Argentina after a federal judge in New York last week rejected its request to lift an order that prevented the bank from making interest payments to investors holding $2.3 billion in Argentine notes.

Citing an “unprecedented international conflict of laws,” Citigroup said its Argentine branch was making plans to close the custody business “as soon as possible,” according to a statement emailed on Tuesday. It will continue to pursue “all legal remedies,” the bank added.

The bruising defeat for Citigroup follows a decision by Judge Thomas P. Griesa of the Federal District Court in Manhattan last summer to block all interest payments on Argentine debt, a ruling that set ... Read More

The Teheran-Caracas-Buenos Aires Connection

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
By Rodrigo Rangel VEJA Brazil

By Leonardo Coutinho

Argentinians have been wondering for the last two months what happened on January 18, the day in which federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment in Buenos Aires. Only four days previously, he had presented the justice ministry with an indictment against president Cristina Kirchner and another four people he accused of covering up Iran´s participation in the terrorist attack which resulted in 85 deaths and 300 wounded in the headquarters of the Israeli Argentina Mutual Association (Amia) in 1994. Nisman explained in his document that, besides the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow Iran to interfere in the investigation of the case, the Islamic Republic wanted the Argentinians to remove the names of five Iranians and one Lebanese from the list of people wanted by Interpol. The Argentinian government went out of its way to disparage his ... Read More

Now Argentina Can’t Even Pay Bonds in Argentina

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Matt Levine

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa issued an opinion yesterday in the long-running Argentine bond dispute. Here is a paragraph that I found pretty stunning:

As discussed, the operative paragraphs of the Injunction do not speak in terms of “external indebtedness,” and as a result, Citibank’s participation in making payments on exchange bonds is prohibited. This is true whether or not the exchange bonds are external indebtedness. Nonetheless, the court finds that the vast majority of exchange bonds governed by Argentine law and payable in U.S. dollars would not constitute DFCI, but rather would qualify as external indebtedness of the Republic. Thus, payment on these exchange bonds would violate the Equal Treatment Provision of the FAA, providing an additional reason as to why the Injunction applies.

That needs some unpacking, which we’ll get to, but first I want to talk about that bold sentence (my emphasis): It means, even if Griesa is wrong about stopping Citibank ... Read More

Argentina’s Last Vestige of Market Access Fades on Court Ruling

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

The narrow window Argentina had to access bond markets just got a whole lot smaller.

While litigation with holdout creditors from its $95 billion default in 2001 has prevented Argentina from selling bonds abroad, the government has periodically tapped overseas funding by issuing notes under domestic legislation.

That may change after a federal judge in New York said Thursday that the local-law securities should be considered foreign debt, and that Argentina can no longer make payments on them until the nation resolves its dispute with the holdout creditors, led by billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management.

The decision is the latest blow to Argentina after the country defaulted in July for a second time in 13 years. With U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa’s decision in hand, Elliott can now ask the court to forbid Argentina from issuing new debt under local rules, according to law professors at the University of ... Read More

Where’s the beef? How Argentina humbled a once-mighty economy.

| March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

BUENOS AIRES — Until a few years ago, both of the meatpacking plants in the industrial town of Florencio Varela, on the outskirts of Argentina’s cattle belt, hummed with activity.

One served the domestic beef market. The other, Latigo S.A., butchered cows for export. Today, Latigo’s facility is a pile of rubble, its kosher salt baths, one of the few rooms still partially intact, hanging precariously over cratered concrete and rebar.

“It makes me sad and nostalgic,” says Emiliano Gamallo, the plant’s purchasing manager for six years before it closed down, with the loss of 500 jobs. “It also makes me angry,” he says, kicking at the debris where his office used to be.

In the 1930s, Argentina was the world’s top exporter of beef. It lost that crown in the 1950s, but until 10 years ago it still ranked third. Today ... Read More

Intrigue in Argentina

| March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

An ebullient crowd greeted Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, when she arrived at Congress on March 1st to deliver her final state of the union address. Thousands of kirchneristas had gathered outside the Greco-Roman building, carrying balloons and waving flags. They had reason to cheer. A few days before the speech a federal judge, Daniel Rafecas, threw out allegations that Ms Fernández and her officials had obstructed an investigation into Argentina’s deadliest terror attack.

Mr Rafecas’s decision does not end the saga, which has gripped Argentina since January. Alberto Nisman, a federal prosecutor, began it by alleging that Ms Fernández had offered to shield Iranians suspected of complicity in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. In return, Iran would sell oil to Argentina. Just hours before presenting this claim to Congress, Mr Nisman was found dead in his bathroom from a gunshot wound. The ... Read More

Ex-Wife of Alberto Nisman Says Argentine Prosecutor Was Murdered

| March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


BUENOS AIRES—The ex-wife of a top prosecutor who died mysteriously in January presented a report by top forensic specialists asserting that he was the victim of a homicide, ratcheting up pressure on Argentina’s government over a case that has captivated the country and started one of its worst political crises in decades.

Sandra Arroyo Salgado, a federal judge who had once been married to the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman, said at a Thursday news conference that investigators she hired had amassed evidence that points to murder—including indications that Mr. Nisman’s body was moved after he was shot.

“Nisman didn’t suffer an accident,” she said. “Nisman didn’t kill himself. Nisman was murdered.”

Mr. Nisman’s body, with a bullet wound in his head, was found in the bathroom of his high rise apartment on Jan. 18, a day before he was to have appeared before Argentina’s Congress to back up his accusation that ... Read More

Argentina’s president just gave her most delusional speech yet

| March 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider


The president of Argentina is living in an alternate reality, one that once seemed to bear some resemblance to the world we live in but no longer does.

In a speech on Sunday, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner completely detached from reality in two ways. First, she speculated wildly about Israel’s connection to terrorist attacks in Argentina. Second, she claimed the economy was on the upswing — something one Financial Times journalist was only too happy to call her out on.

In her speech, Fernandez said a prosecutor who died under mysterious circumstances had actually complimented her in documents found in a safety box in his apartment. That prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, was found dead just before he was to testify that the Argentine government had helped to cover up Iran’s involvement in a decades-old terrorist attack in Buenos Aires.

She also asked Israel to ... Read More

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