has elected a new President, Mauricio Macri, and one of his first acts has
been to announce that he will request Congress to dissolve the 2013
agreement signed between Argentina and Iran to jointly investigate the 1994
attack on the AMIA Jewish centre in Buenos Aires
that killed 85 people and injured hundreds...
Macri won 51.4% of the vote in the runoff
between the two leading candidates, defeating Daniel Scioli who received
only 48.6% of votes. Scioli was considered to be outgoing President
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's chosen successor.
The win by Macri and his centre-right party brings an end to 12 years of
Kirchner rule by President Christina Kirchner and her predecessor and late
husband, Nestor Kirchner...
This change is likely to be welcomed by many in Argentina, including most
of the large Jewish community of some 200,000 to 250,000, especially
following suspicions that Kirchner's government may have been involved in
orchestrating the death in January of Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman, to cover up allegations
Nisman had made about government officials. While President, Kirchner
also made concerning inferences about Jews. For example in June she
compared investment funds contributing to Argentina's national debt to
William Shakespeare's villain Shylock, in a perceived antisemitic
Before his tragic death, Nisman had alleged Iranian officials ordered the
bombing of the AMIA centre via Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, and said
he believed that the deal between Argentina and Iran for the suspects to be
investigated by a joint commission was a conspiracy designed to ensure they
would never be brought to justice.
On January 14, Nisman filed a report that accused President Kirchner, Foreign
Minister Hector Timerman and others close to the government of protecting
high-ranking Iranian officials, including former president Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani, in exchange for oil and trade benefits.
On January 18,
Nisman was found dead in his bathroom with a bullet-wound in his head in
suspicious circumstances. It was the day before Nisman was due to
appear in Congress and allege that President Kirchner was covering up alleged
Iranian involvement in the AMIA bombing because she wanted a trade deal
The death of Nisman in mysterious circumstances led to massive street demonstrations in
Argentina. At first, President Kirchner claimed that Nisman's death
was a suicide, and then later admitted he was most likely murdered.
She suggested that Nisman was manipulated by disgruntled former
intelligence agents who then killed him to smear her.
Then in April, Kirchner claimed on her official website that
she was the target of a conspiracy among American "vulture
funds," Jewish community groups and Nisman to undermine her efforts to
improve relations with Iran.
However, the legal case against President Kirchner suffered a massive blow
in April, when prosecutor Javier De Luca dismissed claims that she helped
shield Iranian officials allegedly behind the AMIA bombing, citing
insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation. The case had earlier
been rejected by both a federal judge and an appeals court. According
to the Guardian, opinion polls show that around
70% of Argentineans believe Nisman was murdered and that his death will
never be solved.
In contrast to Kirchner, Argentina's new President Macri is known for
having good relations with Argentina's
Jewish community and Israel.
For example, Macri has chosen Rabbi Sergio Bergman to serve as
Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in his new government.
Bergman, is believed to be the only rabbi serving as a government
minister outside of Israel.
Moreover, as mayor of Buenos Aires City, Macri implemented a plan to support incubators and
start-ups inspired by the Israeli "Start-Up Nation" scene, and
local entrepreneurs also visited Israel to learn how to market themselves
In June 2014, Macri went to Israel to participate in a mayors' conference,
where he offered his support to Israel against terrorism. He told journalists:
suffering has to be understood. From afar, it is easy to give advice, but
you have to be in Israel to really understand the situation."
Macri's decision to cancel the agreement with Iran has been welcomed by
Israel and Jewish organisations including the American Jewish Committee,
Latin American Jewish Congress, the Argentinean Jewish political umbrella
DAIA, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has called Macri to congratulate him on the election
victory, and Netanyahu wrote in a post on Facebook
"Macri told me that relations between Argentina and Israel will now
change for the better."
However, despite Macri's good will there may be some difficulties in
dissolving the agreement with Iran, as the outgoing government will retain
its majority in the Senate after the December 12 inauguration.
government will certainly bring changes to Argentina, yet some remain
sceptical whether the government will be able to bring about justice for
Nisman and the victims of the AMIA bombing. As Eamonn MacDonagh wrote
in the Tower:
"It is also unlikely that there will
be any significant progress in the investigation into the AMIA massacre
itself for similar reasons. Again, there are no political gains to be had
for Macri in putting any energy into pursuing this case. As with Nisman's
death, any effort so expended might stir up trouble from the amalgam of
intelligence officials, police, judges, prosecutors, ‘businessmen,' and
common criminals that make up Argentina's ‘deep state.' The new president
will have enough on his plate dealing with the disastrous economic
situation in Argentina. And even if Macri was filled with desire to bring
the AMIA killers to justice and find out what really happened to Nisman,
it's hard to imagine that he would get much in the way of encouragement
from the Obama administration in Washington.
"Macri's election thus marks a step back for Iran's interests in the
region and is a warning sign for the Venezuelan regime, which is facing
parliamentary elections in December. However, it would be unwise to hope
that it will lead to progress on the AMIA massacre investigation, the worst
single anti-Semitic atrocity since World War II, or the investigation into
the death of Alberto Nisman, who appears to have paid the ultimate price
for seeking to prosecute both its perpetrators and those engaged in the
most recent attempt to cover it up."