This weekend’s news cycle revolved entirely around former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and corruption accusations against her.
First, disgraced former Public Works Secretary José López revealed to judicial authorities that the infamous bags full of cash he was caught throwing over the walls of a convent – which then turned out to be not an actual convent – really belonged to her. Although Kirchner did not come out to reject the accusations, her son and Frente Para la Victoria (FpV) deputy Máximo did in a radio interview today doing so.
Yesterday afternoon the former President posted a video on YouTube from her house in El Calafate – in the Santa Cruz Province – showing the condition her home was left in after law enforcement officials raided the property, as ordered by Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio in the context of the so-called “notebooks scandal.”
José López’s Accusation
In a new expansion of his testimony, and as part of his plea deal request in the “notebooks scandal,” José López told judicial authorities that the infamous bags he was caught carrying belonged to the former President and that her ex private secretary, Fabián Gutiérrez, was the person who called him on that fateful June 13, 2016, and instructed him to take them somewhere “safe.”
According to reporters with access to the testimony, López indicated that after Néstor Kirchner’s death, Cristina called him to her office to show him a notebook detailing kickbacks and bribes that her late husband received during his time as President – and until his death – and asked him to explain it. Once López did, Cristina asked him if he “would be part of the problem or of the solution,” something he understood as an order to continue with the scheme.
López had already assured the bags did not belong to him when testifying on the first day of the trial against him which investigates where he got the cash. Back then, he said they belonged to “several people from the political landscape” who, through intelligence agents, forced him to take it to the now-infamous convent.
Moreover, he said he did not not who those people were and “didn’t want to know,” indicating that he would not reveal all he knew to protect him and his family. However, the relentless advance of the “notebooks” investigation, in which López also stands accused since his name appeared in them, led him to request the mentioned plea deal and reveal the new information in hopes of getting a shorter prison sentence if found guilty.
The former President did not react publicly to the allegations, but her son Máximo did come out to reject them in a radio interview, saying it is obvious that the money did not belong to her mother. “There were many newspaper covers saying I had millions of dollars in an account I shared with [former Defense Minister] Nilda Garré in the United States. At this point, we need to be extremely patient because powerful interests are involved in Argentina right now,” he said.
Cristina’s Video About her Raided Home
The former President went from taking punches to throwing them on Sunday: she posted a video on YouTube showing the condition her El Calafate home was left in after law enforcement officials raided it at Judge Bonadio’s orders.
“More than raided, this house was literally taken over by people who Bonadio sent here,” she began, assuring that the raid was not aimed at “gathering information for the investigation, but was another episode of humiliation, and especially of [political] persecution.”
In the 17-minute-long video, the former President displays different parts of her house and emphasizes that the “hegemonic media” that indicated her house had underground floors were lying. Moreover, she shows how walls were allegedly broken by security forces looking for documents, money or other hidden artifacts. She assures the holes on the walls were made to “satisfy a pack of journalists from mainstream media outlets” who “could not leave empty handed.”
“What I said was going to happen, happened. Do you remember that when [the raid] was discussed in the Senate, I asked for a set of conditions so nothing would be broken and things unrelated to the investigation weren’t taken? Well, my worst predictions were unfortunately fulfilled,” said the former President, who at one moment requests the camera person to not break anything because “Bonadio has broken enough things.”
Kirchner listed the objects that the law enforcement seized speaking directly to the camera. Among them were several paintings and a glass duck from a restaurant in Paris “the Argentine ambassador in France invited her to.”
Finally, the former President sat down at a table and delivered an impassionate speech against the Macri administration’s policies. “When my term ended, I left an Argentina where the exchange rate was at AR $9.76 per US dollar, now it is over 40; a bus ticket was AR $3 and now it is AR $12. To be an opposition member in Argentina means opposing policies that lead to massive issuing of sovereign debt, and to oppose policies that lead millions of Argentines to misery and hunger,” she finished.