As the ruling coalition Cambiemos steers through a politically critical situation as a result of the severe economic crisis that the country is experiencing, National Deputy and co-founder of Cambiemos, Elisa Carrió, gave an extensive interview on TN in which she analyzed Argentina’s current political agenda and true to her firebrand style, offered a few incendiary statements.
The Mauricio Macri ally, who remains one of the most popular political figures in Argentina, focused much of her screen time on discussing the run on the peso, predicted what’s in store for the country’s economy, and analyzed the repercussions of the so-called “notebooks scandal”.
Always controversial, she said former President Cristina Kirchner will end up in prison as a result of her alleged involvement in what is considered to be one of the largest corruption cases in Argentine history and is currently being investigated. However, she tried to make it clear she wasn’t motivated by rancor, arguing that “she managed to stop a coup” against Kirchner back in 2008 when she was battling the farming sector due to a highly divisive export taxes bill that eventually failed to pass in the Senate.
It’s unclear what “coup” she was referring to.
Below are some of her most relevant quotes, as well as a little background to understand why she’s saying it. You’re welcome.
The “Notebooks Scandal” and Cristina Kirchner’s Involvement
“Cristina Kirchner will end un in prison. There is more than enough proof,” she said when asked about the so-called “notebooks scandal” case, which began early last month after a series of notebooks detailing a well-oiled bribery scheme involving government officials and business leaders in order to get government contracts surfaced. She also said the current investigation was a “miracle,” possibly in reference to how hard it is for corruption cases to be prosecuted here.
“The fact that the owners of Argentina [in reference to the country’s most prominent business leaders] are testifying in the Comodoro Py Courthouse shows a change in Argentina’s political model,” she said. Carrió was referring to the fact that most of the business leaders mentioned in the notebooks practically lined up to request plea bargains, and confessed to paying bribes and provided relevant information about the case in exchange for a more shorter jail sentences.
However, she then went on to make a specific reference to former director of Iecsa construction company Ángelo Calcaterra – who happens to be cousin of President Mauricio Macri and is also one of the first suspects to take a plea bargain – and warned that his testimony (he said he only paid bribes to fund Kirchnerite electoral campaigns) might prove to be insufficient or directly false. “He has got to repent even more, otherwise he will be in hot water. The bribes were not only destined to fund political campaigns,” she said, willing to discuss a thorny subject, considering her proximity to Macri.
Carrió also argued that the government contractors involved in the case have to keep conducting the public works they were awarded while they are being investigated, but the government should “open bidding processes to small and medium-sized companies,” as they are less likely to be tainted by corruption scandals.
The Run on the Peso
Asked about the serious economic crisis the country is going through, the deputy said the authorities should be “allowed to do their job.”
“Macri is stronger and more stable than ever, I am by his side, I will not take vacations and will be by the people’s side,” she said, who nonetheless admitted that “what comes next will be extremely hard” for the population.
Nonetheless, she assured there is a silver a lining that comes as a result of the devaluation: “today, regional economies are doing better, and so are the tourism and the border’s commercial sectors,” she said, indicating these products become more attractive as its targets are people and companies with dollars. “We have to stop hiking bills and get through this. It will be a great year for the exporting sector,” she said.
Moreover, she said the run on the peso, which has lost more than half of its value against the US dollar this year will stop and the “dollar will go down [the peso will appreciate].” Carrió made a similar statement after the first sharp devaluation of the year, when the exchange rate clocked in at AR $23 per US dollar.
The Importance of Having Strong Institutions
Carrió has always claimed to be a staunch defender of republican values (and by “republican” we mean what constitutes a republic, not the US political party – in fact, her last book is called ‘I Love the Republic”) and said her main political work is aimed at strengthening democratic institutions. To illustrate this, she assured that following the conflict with the farming sector that the Cristina Kirchner administration went through in 2008, she “stopped a coup against her.” “[It happened] when she wanted to resign in August [of 2008] and when [the coup supporters] wanted then-Vice President Julio Cobos [who provided a tie-breaking vote against his own government and struck down a bill aimed at increasing taxes on soy products and sunflower export] to lead the opposition. Back then I stood by the government.”
“It’s not like I am Macri’s best friend, but today’s fight is about upholding a republic, so everyone is able to make a choice, and prevent authoritarianism to rule the country again,” Carrió finished