New winds from the south

Only time will tell if there something new under the sun.

Conservative opposition candidate Mauricio Macri comfortably won Argentina's presidential election, November 22, 2015 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Conservative opposition candidate Mauricio Macri comfortably won Argentina's presidential election, November 22, 2015
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A new era has dawned in Argentina following Mauricio Macri’s election as president in a tight victory over the Peronist candidate Daniel Scioli last Sunday. With 51.4 percent of the votes in a second and unexpected round, the South American country has woke up into a new reality, one that for the first time in 12 years is not a populist variable.
Macri’s cabinet is characterized by people with vast experience in the private sector, in total contrast to that led by the current head of state Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who always preferred loyalty to professionalism.
Jewish Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, for example. He led the negotiations that ended in the signature of a shameful pact with Iran, called “Memorandum of Understanding,” in 2013.
According to the government, it was supposed to find those responsible for the terrorist attack at the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, which killed 85 people and injured over 300. The problem was that Argentine courts had already found those responsible: Iran and Hezbollah.
In return, last January Timerman and the executive received a judicial complaint regarding an alleged cover- up in cooperation with the Ayatollah’s regime, “a criminal plot” in prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s own words.
Four days after filing the accusation the courageous attorney was found dead with a gunshot to the head, only hours before bringing his case before a special congressional commission.
To this day, the Argentine judiciary system doesn’t have a clue regarding prosecutor Nisman’s death.
This was just another example of Kirchner’s erroneous foreign policy, defined by distancing Argentina from the Western world and especially with the United States, in favor of China, Russia and the so called Bolivarian axis, including countries like Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador among others.
The Jewish conspiracy
Of course the Jews, both locally and abroad, were to blame for all the problems of the country’s collapsing economy; another cornerstone policy that Fernández de Kirchner emphasized during her last term. American holdouts who refused to accept the debt swap process offered by her administration were now called “Vulture Funds,” while one of CEO, republican contributor Paul Singer, was marked as “the head vulture” – public enemy number one. When Kirchner could not express herself directly, she sent her emissaries.
One of them was Luis D’Elía, an “activist against imperialism”, the “Zionists” and all that’s wrong in the world today.
He’s was an open supporter of Iran and Hezbollah.
D’Elia was recorded via wiretaps engaging in suspicious talks with a middleman named Yussuf Khalil, one of the members of the Iranian network who seek to mislead and influence the AMIA bombing investigation, according to late prosecutor Nisman. Khalil was described as one of the messengers with the Ayatollahs, but Argentine courts refused to continue with the dead attorney’s case.
Buenos Aires-Jerusalem
Over the past 12 years, Argentina took a harsh and hostile position against Israel, defined by demagogic rhetoric in sync with the Bolivarian axis led by Venezuela. The fact that the head of its foreign service had lived in Israel and his father – Jacóbo Timerman – had received political asylum in Israel after being tortured during the Junta regime in the ‘70s, seemed irrelevant.
But now a new occupant has arrived at the “Pink House (La Casa Rosada)” on Balcarce 50 Street – the presidential mansion – carrying with him a chance to reset relations between the two sides, to get them back on track and even take them to a whole new level. Associations between Israel and Argentina blossemed in the past and relied on important cooperation on intelligence matters, especially after the two terrorist attacks that rocked the country during the ‘90s. The first one was in 1992, when the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was reduced to dust, and the second was in 1994, with the bombing of AMIA.
Patricia Bullrich, the newly designated security minister, will be responsible for a more cooperative approach with the Jewish state based on mutual interests and the war on terror. She was part of a pro-Israeli group of congressmen called “Amigos de Israel,” meaning “Friends of Israel in English.”
For the first time in the country’s history, a rabbi was named as the next environmental minister: Sergio Bergman, a well-known and active member of the local Jewish community. Waldo Wolff, former head of the Argentine Delegations of Israeli Associations (DAIA in Spanish) will represent the Pro Party as a national lawmaker in Congress.
Among this group of people who share close ties with the Jewish community is Laura Alonso, who will become director of the anti-corruption office on December 10. Alonso has also signed the Consensus Document, a foreign policy paper published by the Argentine Council for International Relations which aimed for the reinsertion of the country as a member of the Western world.
They all support the revocation of the Argentine-Iranian deal on one hand, and seek to find out what happened with Nisman on the other.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Macri for his victory and invited him for an official visit to Israel.
“I expect that Israel’s relations with Argentina will become closer,” he stated.
The political shift in Argentina could be the spark that begins a fire of hope in a region where that basic wish was treasured but sealed by authoritarian regimes.
What’s most certain is that the current administration in Jerusalem has found a reliable partner in the region.
Yet only time will tell if there something new under the sun.
The author is the journalist who broke the story of the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.