Against all odds, and to the despair of many, former president Carlos Menem didn’t burst into flames this morning when he visited the Vatican to have a private meeting with Pope Francis. This can only mean two things: either God doesn’t exist or Menem’s evil arms-selling, state-company-privatizing, military-repressor-pardoning powers are still intact and none of us are safe.
Anyway, Menem — or he-who-shall-not-be-named, your call — held a private meeting with Pope Francis in his private residence in Santa Marta and said the pontiff was “in a wonderful state, very cheerful.”
“We had an excellent meeting,” said the current senator for La Rioja province, who was accompanied by his daughter Zulema and his two grandkids. “We talked about everything, it was a very good conversation,” he added in an interview with Radio El Mundo.
— Andrés Beltramo A. (@sacroprofano) September 19, 2016
Menem went on to give his opinion about the current political scenario — something that most Argentines surely couldn’t wait to hear — and said that people have to be patient and “wait” for Macri’s policies to kick in before making any harsh judgments.
“He is capable, smart, and [people] shouldn’t make a judgement call so quickly,” he claimed. When consulted about former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, he said that “when you step down from office it’s really difficult to think about getting back. I think she should worry about Comodoro Py.” Menem was referring to the federal courthouses of Comodoro Py, where the numerous cases of corruption involving former, current, future and unborn politicians are investigated.
- Read more: Carlos Menem: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
He knows what he’s talking about. Menem is no stranger to Comodoro Py himself and that’s without taking into account that several of his policies directly led to the 2001 economic collapse. Just in case you need a refresher course, here’s a brief recap of the best-known cases that led people to touch their left genitalia — testicle for men, breast for women — when referring to the two-term president who is now reviled by many.
- In 2013, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for trafficking 6,500 tons of illegal weapons to Ecuador and Croatia.
- Also in 2013, he was indicted for his role in blowing up the factory that produced those weapons. The explosion, which took place in the city of Río Tercero, in Córdoba, left seven people dead, 300 injured, and destroyed hundreds of nearby homes.
- In December 2015 he was sentenced to four and a half years of prison as one of the masterminds behind a scheme during the ’90s in which he and other high-ranking officials embezzled public funds in order to pay themselves “bonuses.”
And while we’re at it, he’s also not very well liked for selling a myriad of Argentina’s public companies to foreign interests, and pardoning nearly 300 military officials convicted of crimes against humanity.
Despite all these convictions, Menem hasn’t served any time behind bars because he is an acting Senator and has been since 2005. As such, he has immunity from incarceration, something that only his chamber peers have the power to revoke, and hasn’t happened yet. However, the last ruling determined he will be permanently ineligible to hold public office once his term finishes in next year’s Congressional elections. Still, he wouldn’t go to prison because he is 86 years old and so at most could be confined to house arrest. A terrible sentence he would probably have to serve in one of his thousand-hectare mansions in the province of La Rioja. Yay, justice.