President Mauricio Macri highlighted today the “strong commitment” the Argentine government has taken to “fight and prevent corruption.” “The results are evident,” he said. Speaking at a G20-related event, the President touted his administration’s approach to the issue by making reference to the fast pace at which the investigation regarding the corruption scheme detailed by Oscar Centeno, the driver of former high-ranking Planning Ministry Official Roberto Baratta, in a series of now infamous notebooks, is moving.
The event was in fact the summit of the Civil 20, or C20, which groups more than 600 Civil Society Organizations from all over the world to engage with the G20 on topics such as “the growing impacts from climate change; growing inequality between and within countries; corruption scandals; the gender gap; worrying levels of global debt; high risks of another financial crisis; and environmental degradation.”
At the beginning of the summit, C20 representatives gave Macri a 42-page-long document with policy recommendations. When thanking them for the contribution, the President made particular emphasis on the corruption-related items, saying that “it is unheard of in G20 history, to work for a transparent State that is at the service of the people.”
At the same time Macri was making these statements, his cousin Ángelo Calcaterra was appearing before Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio to take a plea bargain in the context of the “notebooks” case.
Calcaterra, who until 2017 was the owner of Iecsa, a construction company that throughout the years was awarded numerous state contracts, admitted to having paid bribes to officials of the Kirchner administration but assured it was because he was threatened to “contribute to electoral campaigns,” rather than paying kickbacks in exchange for being awarded public works. Moreover, he said that the sums are much lower than those indicated by Centeno in his notebooks.
Although the President has not yet publicly addressed his cousin’s involvement in the case, co-founder of the Cambiemos coalition and national Deputy Elisa “Lilita” Carrió assured this morning that Calcaterra’s decision shows that the Macri will not cover up for anyone, something that represents “an enormous change in Argentina.”
Se el dolor que significa en lo personal para el Presidente porque es una persona muy querida, pero ante la justicia debemos responder todos. Yo lo acompaño y lo sostengo.
— Elisa Lilita Carrió (@elisacarrio) August 6, 2018
“Business leaders close to the President are appearing before the courts, there is no impunity for anyone. That is the agreement the President and I made in order to create Cambiemos.”
“I know how personally painful it is for the President, because he [Calcaterra] is a person he holds dearly, but everyone has to answer to the courts. I accompany and support him,” reads the second tweet.
Although most news sites cite sources who assure Macri had no influence in Calcaterra’s decision, Clarín reported this morning that the latter called the President during the weekend to inform him.