The Argentinian crossroads: economic crisis vs. corruption
On October 27, Argentinians go to the ballots to choose their new president. The current one, Mauricio Macri, is running for reelection, and his main opponent, Alberto Fernández, formed team with Cristina Kirchner, who preferred to appear as candidate for vice-president.
Argentina faces yet another electoral process surrounded by a huge and difficult economic crisis. Macri continues to be sucked in by the misfit and the worsening of the general situation. If the elections were today, he would lose it in the first round. It seems that there is very little time to react, since economic measures don’t produce immediate effects.
In addition, the president has to face a corruption scandal that is getting closer and closer to the Casa Rosada. In early August, Angelo Calcaterra, cousin of the president and heir of the Macri family companies, confessed having paid bribes to senior officials of Cristina Kirchner's government.
As the Argentinian press recalls, Calcaterra is the son of a paternal aunt of Mauricio Macri. He became the owner of the president's father’s (Franco Macri) companies, since his son preferred to pursue a political career. He is involved in an overpricing scheme for the works of the Sarmiento subway, which had the involvement of Brazilian contractor Odebrecht. Last February, the investigations of Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato ended up bursting in the neighboring country.
Argentina also investigates possible cases of corruption of the Brazilian contractor in the country. Immediately, Calcaterra sold IECSA, a pivot company in the scheme, to get rid of any charges. It was not enough.
In total, 49 people are investigated in Argentina for corruption involving Odebrecht. The former president of the company, Marcelo Odebrecht, confessed having paid about $35 million in bribes to obtain works in Argentina, according to the US State Department.
The cousin's confessions leave the Argentinian president in an even more delicate situation. While transparency is important to his image, it is clear that Calcaterra has worked for the benefit of Macri Group companies. The Argentinian people, who already suffer from an economy going downhill, feel that Mauricio Macri does not have the essential conditions to keep ahead of the government.
In August’s primary polls, he was 15 points behind Alberto Fernández. That is a difference that would already be very difficult to catch up in normal conditions. Therefore, the aforementioned corruption scandal might bury definitively his intentions of reelection.
Marcelo Rech is a journalist and editor for InfoRel. Email: email@example.com.