Argentina Turns away from the Democracies, and Back toward Iran

November 20, 2019 | Ben Cohen
About the author: Ben Cohen, a New York-based writer, has contributed essays on anti-Semitism and related issues to Mosaic and other publications.

During the tenure of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as president, which ended in 2015, Argentina stymied efforts to investigate Hizballah’s 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center (AMIA), orchestrated by the Islamic Republic, which it refused to hold accountable. Alberto Nisman, the federal prosecutor assigned to the case, was murdered. But in 2015 Mauricio Macri won the presidency, pledged to continue the investigation, and moved his country away from Tehran. Macri, however, lost the recent election, and on December 10 the new president, Alberto Fernandez, will take office—with Cristina Kirchner as his vice-president. Ben Cohen comments:

[T]he two are neither married nor related, though Alberto Fernandez did serve as chief of staff to Cristina during her time as Argentine president from 2007 to 2015. The more pertinent factor to wrap one’s head around, perhaps, is the prospect that Cristina’s former policy of genuflecting to the Iranian regime and its associated terrorist groups will be revived. [There is therefore reason to suspect that the new president’s] goal will in part be to shield the vice-president from scrutiny concerning her alleged role in Nisman’s murder, which occurred just hours before [Nisman] was due to appear before the Argentine Congress to disclose a formal complaint against Kirchner for colluding with the Iranian regime.

One significant indication of [the incoming administration’s] direction emerged over the weekend, when Fernandez hosted a meeting in Buenos Aires of the Grupo de Puebla (“Group of the People”), a newly formed regional grouping that includes Mexico, Uruguay, and other left-oriented governments in Latin America, . . . deliberately intended to rival the center-right “Lima Group” of countries that includes Colombia, Guatemala, and, for the moment, Argentina.

The dramatic divide in the worldview of these two groupings has been on display in two current regional crises. . . . With regard to both [Venezuela and Bolivia], Fernandez took the side of authoritarian left-wing leaders against their democratic opponents. Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Cristina Kirchner, and the late [Venezuelan leader] Hugo Chávez are among the Latin American leaders to have enabled and encouraged Iran’s exploitation of Latin America as an illicit-financing hub for its terrorist networks. A few weeks [before the beginning of his] presidential term, Alberto Fernandez is sending the signal that this is another leadership group he intends to join.

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