'My Worst Fears Came True': Cristina Fernandez Shows How Police Stole, Damaged Items in Her Home

In a video released on Sunday, Senator Cristina Fernandez shows how investigators damaged and stole items from her Calafate home in an August raid.

Former President Cristina Fernandez released a video Sunday from her Calafate country house condemning last month’s raids made on her three homes in connection to the ‘Bribery Notebooks’ corruption case against Fernandez.

RELATED: Argentine Teacher Tortured, Her Flesh Carved With Threat

"This house three weeks ago was more than raided. (It was) literally taken by the people that (Judge) Bonadio sent here," the current Senator said in the video in front of her Calafate home.

In late August Judge Claudio Bonadio ordered search warrants for the three Fernandez homes, one of which is located in Calafate and another in Buenos Aires, to look for information in connection to alleged payments Fernandez received in exchange for political favors and public works contracts during her presidencies (2007-2015).

In her video, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) denounced the raids saying they were not carried out to "gather information" but were actually "another chapter of humiliation and persecution" against the Citizens Unity coalition leader.

The former president went through her home detailing how for three days officials drilled dozens of holes in the walls of the home, removed stones and took an original painting.

In the video, Fernandez said she tried to mandate protections of her belongings in the house, but those were denied by her fellow Senators who narrowly voted on Aug. 22 to allow the searches to take place.

“My worst fears came true. … What I thought would happen really happened," Senator Fernandez said referring to the items stolen from her house she says have nothing to do with the investigation against her. “They came to find, God knows what, millions of dollars, I do not know," stressed the former president.

"They broke everything, took personal items in the house that have nothing to do with the investigation. In Buenos Aires they did not let my lawyer in, people who were then intoxicated,” added the former head of state referring to the cleaning staff of her Buenos Aires home suffering from “dizziness, itchy throats, and eyes, and difficulty breathing” immediately after the home was raided nearly a month ago.

Fernandez added that the current situation in Argentina "is very disturbing.”

RELATED: Argentina: New Supreme Court President 'Too Close to Executive'

She said the government (under President Mauricio Macri) is “violating rights and constitutional guarantees," and denounced the torture against the Buenos Aires teacher who last week was hooded and tattooed with ‘no more pots’ written in Spanish on her stomach.

"What happened to the teacher in Moreno (Buenos Aires) is very serious because it is a kind of harassment, persecution, and intimidation of against policies that question what is happening in Argentina."

Last Wednesday three male attackers scratched out the words ‘no more pots’ (olla no) on the stomach of teacher Corina De Bonis with a sharp object as she was walking home from work. De Bonis was a part of a group of Buenos Aires teachers who were feeding kids hot meals as the Cambiemos-lead government initiative to drastically cuts education funds, subsidies in social spending trying to plug its deficit.  

The case against Fernandez emerged after Argentine newspaper La Nacion published photocopies of eight notebooks belonging to Oscar Centeno, the driver of Julio de Vido, federal Planning and Public Investment Minister between 2003 and 2015 during the Kitchener and Fernandez administrations.

According to the newspaper, the driver kept records of alleged bags of money business executives gave to the Kirchner administration. CFK has repeatedly denied the claims of corruption.

In the video, Fernandez condemned Macri’s "borrowing policy."

In June the administration took on a US$50 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan hoping it would stem the country’s down-spiraling economy as the peso devalued to 40 to the dollar and inflation rests at 35 percent, after hovering between 25 and 30 percent for a year.

Bloomberg analysts predict inflation to hit 40 percent by year’s end bringing Argentina into a full-blown recession.  The government "has gutted the state in the most sensitive areas and that must change," said Fernandez from Calafate.

  • Published in World

IMF Chief Lagarde Found Guilty in French Tycoon Payout Trial

Judges found Lagarde acted with negligence when she was French finance minister in 2008. Her attorney plans to appeal the ruling.

French judges on Monday found IMF chief Christine Lagarde guilty of negligence for failing to challenge a US$417 million state arbitration payout to a business tycoon in 2008 when she was French finance minister.

Despite the ruling the judges did not hand down any sentence in the case on her decision to allow the rare out-of-court arbitration payment. She has denied the negligence charges.

Her lawyer said immediately after the ruling that his team would look into appealing the decision.

The ruling risks triggering a new leadership crisis at the International Monetary Fund afterLagarde's predecessor Dominique Strauss Khan resigned in 2011 over a sex assault scandal.

  • Published in World

China vs. the IMF

Behind the IMF’s decision to refuse China’s currency reserve status is U.S. commitment to protect its hegemonic role in the global economy.

The global economy is slowing, and with it the volume of world trade. In response to the negative effect of the global trade slowdown on its own exports and economic growth, last week China introduced a 2.8% reduction in its currency exchange rate, the Renminbi-Yuan.

The move had immediate repercussions throughout the global economy. Currencies fell. Stock markets retreated broad and deep. Speculation grew whether the U.S. central bank would indeed raise interest rates next month or whether Japan would launch another round of quantitative easing (QE). Not so speculative, however, was the crescendo of complaints and charges against China raised from Washington to London to Tokyo within just hours of China’s currency move.

Especially from the ‘west’, and in particular from U.S. politicians, business press pundits and editorialists, China was castigated for daring to make such a move without a pre-announcement. Long standing threats from the U.S. Congress claiming that China manipulates its currency to the disadvantage of U.S. manufacturers and producers—and therefore should be somehow punished economically— were loudly revived by the circus of U.S. politicians running for office in 2016. “How dare it manipulate its currency, in violation of free market principles” was the indignant collective chant. “It should allow the currency to fluctuate according to market forces,” was the general media message. Behind this ideological spin, however, lay the real message: “How dare China try to take back our share of the shrinking global trade pie.”

Hypocrisy, Inaccuracy and Ideology        

The complaints against China by the U.S. and its key global partners—Europe and Japan—are as hypocritical as they are inaccurate, however.

How inaccurate is revealed by the fact that China has actually allowed its currency to appreciate not depreciate—i.e. allowed it to rise—over the past decade, 2005-2015, making it and China’s exports actually less competitive against the dollar and other currencies.

Here’s some data in support of this point:

China’s currency over the past decade has actually risen, i.e. appreciated in value. From an exchange rate of 8.3 to the US dollar in 2005 it rose to 6.2 to the dollar as of August 10, 2015 (note: A fall in the number represents a ‘rise’ in the exchange rate. Because China’s currency buys fewer dollars, its value has risen). That 6.2 exchange represents an almost 25% ‘rise’ of the Renminbi-Yuan to the dollar. If China has allowed its currency to rise against the dollar over the past decade, it has in effect allowed its exports to become less, not more, competitive in relation to U.S. producers. U.S. manufacturers and exports have been allowed to become more competitive, not less. So where’s the manipulation of its currency at the expense of U.S. producers that U.S. politicians so often complain about? Just the opposite has been happening. Of course, ideological arguments need not be based on fact.

Once the U.S. and UK discontinued their own quantitative easing (QE) policies by 2013, and thereafter allowed their currencies to drift upward in relation to other currencies, it was the Yen and Euro—not the China Yuan— that depreciated against the U.S. dollar. Japan and European exports thus did gain a competitive advantage against U.S. producers. The U.S. said and did nothing in reply.

In short, the Europeans and Japanese were allowed to do what China was supposed to have done. Did the U.S. complain and castigate Japan and Europe? No. Even though they, Japan and Europe, did what the U.S. complains China did, but actually didn’t.

For example: since 2008 the European currency, the Euro, has depreciated by 18% against the U.S. dollar. Most of that has occurred this past year, after Europe’s introduction of its QE program in early 2015, designed in part to ‘manipulate’ its currency to lower rates compared to the dollar. The U.S. not only did not oppose it. They actually encouraged it. And since Japan introduced its QE in 2013, the Yen has depreciated by 23% to the U.S. dollar. No complaints by the U.S. there either.

So it’s ok for Japan and Europe to do what China hasn’t. Conversely, China is criticized sharply for something it hasn’t done but the Europeans and Japanese have. Such is the world of ideological—in contrast to policy—manipulation.

China has not only not depreciated its currency against the dollar, it has allowed other currencies to depreciate against its currency, the Yuan, by even more than the U.S. has allowed the Euro-Yen to depreciate against its dollar.

For example: since 2013 the Yen has depreciated by no less than 30% to the Yuan, and the Euro by 32%. Other currencies have also been allowed to depreciate similarly against the Yuan since 2013. For example, the Indonesian Rupiah, by 30%. South Korea’s Won by 10%, and so on.

Facing the reality of a shrinking global trade pie and having allowed its own competitive position to decline relative to other currencies, China last week, August 10-14, allowed its currency for the first time in years to ‘adjust’, i.e. to decline—by a whopping 2.8% to the dollar. The Yuan officially fell, from 6.2 to 6.4 to the US dollar. What manipulation! What an affront to the rest of the global trading community!

Of course, a mere 2.8% depreciation is not going to result in China taking back from the Europeans, the Japanese, and even the U.S. producers the share of global exports it allowed them to claim in recent years by their manipulating QE their own currencies by 20% to 30%.

So what then is behind the China move? And what does China’s devaluation have to do with the IMF? Furthermore, why is the U.S. really upset with China’s recent token currency devaluation move last week?

The China-IMF Negotiations

In the days immediately leading up to China’s decision to devaluate its currency last week, confidential negotiations were intensely underway between China and the IMF. The issue was China’s request that the IMF declare the Yuan-Renminbi as a global reserve and trading currency—like the U.S. dollar, UK pound, Euro, and the Yen. After all, China is the second largest economy in the world; the first if one adjusts output to world price differences. Its manufacturing output is as large as the U.S. And it is the number one trading country in the world. It is therefore quite appropriate—and inevitable—that its currency becomes a reserve trading currency alongside the others.

The IMF refused China’s request in early August. But it left the door open for possible future granting of reserve currency status to the Yuan. The IMF used as its excuse that China needed to allow its currency to fluctuate more according to market forces. So China last week cleverly responded to the IMF’s rejection by adjusting its band to allow market forces to lower its currency’s value.

Technical means by which it did this aside, in simple terms it merely allowed the currency to fluctuate, as it always had, slightly differently within the ‘band’ or range it had always been allowed to change. So, it actually followed the ‘market forces’ to devalue by 2.8%. By adopting a method that relied on market forces, China in effect eliminated the charge by U.S. politicians that it was not allowing market forces to determine its currency’s value, that it was therefore manipulating the market. It achieved a modest devaluation of 2.8% by also satisfying the IMF’s requirement that it let market forces determine its currency exchange rate as a precondition for IMF granting it reserve status. All of which proves, perhaps, that if one is sufficiently clever, even ideological manipulation at times may itself be manipulated.

China, IMF and Economic Power    

Behind the IMF’s decision to refuse China’s currency reserve status is U.S. commitment to protect its hegemonic role in the global economy. The U.S. is opposed to allowing China’s currency reserve status and it is the U.S., with its allies, who control the majority votes in the IMF and determines what decisions it makes. That U.S. control was ‘baked into’ the IMF at its creation in 1944. Together with its key allies in the IMF (UK, Japan, Germany, France, Canada) the U.S. retains a very safe ‘control’ of the IMF’s majority voting rights and thus its decision making. The IMF’s director, Christina LaGarde, is employed at their pleasure. So the IMF does whatever the U.S. voting bloc tells it to do. It’s not by accident the IMF was and remains located in Washington D.C.

The U.S. has thus far been opposed for several reasons.

The Yuan as an official global trading currency would grant China yet another big ‘win’ in terms of growing global economic influence. China recently pulled off a major ‘economic coup’ earlier this year with the launch of its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that caught the U.S. by surprise.

The AIIB represents a direct institutional challenge to the sister institution of the IMF, the World Bank, that was also created in 1944. Both have functioned as key vehicles of U.S. economic global hegemony in numerous ways since 1944. China’s launch of the AIIB—which many U.S. allies participating in the World Bank-IMF also quickly joined contrary to US requests at the time—in effect set up a challenge to the World Bank-U.S. dominance.

Having suffered a major loss with the AIIB v. World Bank affair just months ago, the U.S. and key allies don’t want China to have more influence within the IMF as well. And to have granted reserve status to China’s currency last week might have jeopardized U.S. current efforts to quickly close the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal now in sensitive, final negotiations. It would certainly have encouraged the Asian region’s potential TPP members to demand more last minute concessions from the U.S.

China has made a number of significant gains in influence in the global economy in recent years. It has provided significant loans and capital to African economies. It has begun penetrating Europe with financial assistance and investments, in the Euro periphery as well as to UK infrastructure and commercial real estate. It is now one of Germany’s major trading partners. China launched the BRICS group, a BRICS bank, and has initiated non-dollar trading between the BRICS economies—i.e. a long run threat to U.S. dollar reserve and trading dominance. China also recently closed a 10 year $40 billion energy trade deal with Russia, just as the U.S. was attempting to tighten sanctions on the latter. It has plans to establish an overland ‘Silk Road’ rail link directly to Europe, one of the largest global infrastructure projects in decades. All these developments, when combined, represent a rising economic challenge to U.S. global economic hegemony.

So, within just months from China’s big ‘win’ in the launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB, there was no way the U.S. was going to allow the IMF to grant reserve status to China’s currency. At least not yet. The U.S. is not about to allow the IMF to simply ‘give away’ another economic benefit in the form of reserve currency status to China. It will demand something in return from China of equivalent importance to the U.S. Time will tell what that is. In the meantime, the U.S. can’t keep China at bay and its currency from achieving reserve trading status forever. To do so would encourage China to try to form yet another competitive global institution—next time as a direct alternative to the IMF itself. And it may come to that. That’s perhaps why the IMF has left the door still open to further negotiations.

Cuba’s Entry to the IMF and World Bank is Imminent, says IMF's Former Director

The former director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Hector R. Torres published an article on Tuesday in the Point of View section of Swissinfo.ch website that reminds us that a few years ago was unimaginable to Cuba knocking on the doors of the IMF and World Bank.

"Now that the United States has restored diplomatic relations with the island after more than half a century of enmity, it seems only a matter of time before Cuba enters both institutions for the benefit of all involved."

According to Torres, membership of the IMF is a precondition for joining the World Bank, and the advantages that Cuba would win with it are easy to see. He added that the island "is proud of its social achievements, and rightly so. But ensure that they remain sustainable will require that the Cuban economy keep growing. And for that, you need to continue and deepen economic reforms initiated".

  • Published in Now

BRICS Bank Will Launch in Weeks, Brazil Says

BRASILIA – The bank conceived by the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – as an alternative to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will begin operations soon after next week’s summit in Russia, Brazilian officials said Tuesday.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed