It’s been a crazy week in South America. In Peru, a president was arrested and removed from office. The U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru is advising Americans to avoid crowds, demonstrations, and comply with police. Over in Brazil, President elect Lula is trying to put a cabinet together in a bitterly divided country.
Over in Argentina, where everybody is talking about the World Cup these days, VP Cristina Fernandez got some bad news:
Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández was convicted and sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison and a lifetime ban from holding public office for a fraud scheme that embezzled $1 billion through public works projects during her presidency.
A three-judge panel found the Peronist leader guilty of fraud, but rejected a charge of running a criminal organization, for which the sentence could have been 12 years in prison. It was the first time an Argentine vice president has been convicted of a crime while in office.
Fernández lashed out at the verdict, describing herself as the victim of a “judicial mafia.” But she also later announced that she would not run next year for the presidency, a post she previously held in 2007-2015.
The sentence isn’t firm until appeals are decided, a process that could take years. She will remains immune from arrest meanwhile.
So the appeals mean that VP Fernandez won’t be arrested anytime soon. She is also lucky that everyone is focused on the Argentina vs Netherlands game this weekend. The game will get her off the front pages for now but it won’t soften the bitter divisions in the country.
She is accused of everything but inventing the tango. For example, fraudulently directing 51 public works projects to Lázaro Báez, a construction magnate and early ally of her and her husband Nestor Kirchner, who served as president in 2003-2007 and died suddenly in 2010. Báez and members of Fernández’s 2007-2015 presidential administration were among a dozen others accused in the conspiracy. The panel also sentenced Báez and her public works secretary, José López, to six years.
So the former First Lady, President, and now Vice President is exhibit A of crony capitalism, corruption, and taking care of your friends. She is a corrupt lady and maybe all of those years of shameless corruption have finally caught up with her. I hope so!