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Some news on Nestor Kirchner's dangerous environment

By Tony Pagliaro

14.12.05 | Néstor Kirchner’s, Argentina’s firebrand left-winger, has irked once again Washington. This is so because there is strong evidence that his efforts were absolutely crucial for oil-rich Venezuela recent incorporation as a member of Mercosur’s trade bloc.

This has occurred while Kirchner’s new Minister of Defence, Nilda Garré (a former Marxist guerrilla member in the 70’s) went back to Venezuela, where she will be given a big farewell party after serving as Argentina’s ambassador to Caracas, where she built an intimate relationship with the Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chávez. It is expected that Chávez and his top brass will attend the party.

In the meantime, Kirchner’s administration has been told by the World Bank that its largest social subsidies program (financed by the World Bank) is plagued with corruption that has diverted funds that were to be to be used for other purposes.

In addition to such real bad news, Argentina’s weekly magazine “Noticias” (one of the very few that does not “support” Mr. Kirchner) has just published an interesting “profile” of Mr. Kirchner’s closest ally, the active media mogul Héctor Magnetto, who (through his large media monopolistic empire) constantly generates the supporting “public climate” Kirchner needs to remain popular notwithstanding his authoritarian attitudes.

According to “Noticias” Magnetto’s media monopoly (the “Clarín Group”, where Wall Streets “Godlman Sachs” unbelievably holds an 18% participation) has 38% of Argentina’s direct TV market; over one million Cable TV customers (substantially all of Argentina’s urban market); 25.000 employees; a daily newspaper (“Clarín”) that prints 450.000 copies a day; annual sales of over 700 million US dollars; a pre-tax annual profit of about 170 million dollars; and, of course, the closest relationship with Argentina’s President.

In addition, Magnetto (who many claim is, in fact, Kirchner’s boss) plays constantly a “double game”, since he also controls (through a Swiss holding company) the leftist daily newspaper “Página 12”, which is the publication which, lead by Horacio Verbisky (the former intelligence chief of “Montoneros”, the largest leftist guerrilla group that was active in the 70’s ), receives the largest amount of governmental “aid” through massive advertisement and other similar means. This is why Argentines refer to “Página 12” as the real Official Gazette.

Magnetto, who does not like to be the object of any press comment, is said to be extremely uncomfortable with “Noticias”. But some, like “Noticias”, believe that it is time to know what really is “going on” in Argentina.

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