Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez fired sharp words at her conservative successor, Mauricio Macri, accusing him of being the country’s “problem” after a slew of fraud accusations from her political rivals targeting her and her family reached a new frontier: her 87-year-old mother.
“Macri, my mom is 87-years-old and for more than 50 years she has lived with my sister in the same neighborhood and in the same house, which is her only property,” Fernandez began an open letter to the president Tuesday, adding that some of her colleagues could testify to how the elderly woman lives a simple life off her late husband’s pension.
“What is it that you want to invent?” Fernandez continued. “Are you trying to make Argentines believe that the country is bad and they are worse of … because of my mother?”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit much?” she added.
The letter is a response to accusations from one of Macri’s allies that Fernandez’ mother, Ofelia Wilhelm, was involved in “defrauding the state” when she was a union leader, a role she held for three decades, according to her daughter.
Elisa Carrio, a member of Congress in Macri’s Cambiemos coalition, filed a complaint against Wilhelm Monday alleging irregularities in a 2005 contract the country’s state postal service Correo Argentino — re-nationalized by Fernandez’s late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, in 2003 after being privatized under the dictatorship — made with the cooperative El Albadon, which was created by the union of real estate employees known as AERI with which Wilhelm worked. A judge will now review Carrio’s request for an investigation.
In her letter, titled “It’s not my mother, it’s your father and you,” Fernandez blasted Macri of scapegoating problems in the country.
“No Macri,” she wrote. “The problem in Argentina continues being the same as always: you all.”
Fernandez, her daughter and some of her political allies have faced a barrage of accusations of fraud in recent months in what critics have condemned as a tactic of legal harassment aimed at tying left-wing leaders up in court proceedings that sully their names and keep them away from political organizing. Fernandez has personally been accused of public administration fraud linked to the Central Bank’s sale of U.S. dollar futures contracts at below-market rates during her presidency. She and her supporters argue that the allegations are baseless.
Meanwhile, Macri has been embroiled in controversy over revelations earlier this year that he was one of the global power players at the center of the Panama Papers scandal. The president came under fire and faced an investigation questioning whether or not he “maliciously” failed to report his connection to the offshore company Fleg Trading, in which his brother and father were also directors. According to the more recent Bahamas Leaks, the Macri family business, Grupo Socma, also invested in a Bahamas-registered online tourism company, raising further questions about possible tax evasion.
Grupo Socma has also been the subject of controversy due to its ties to Argentina’s military regime of the 1970s and 80s. Among Socma’s dozens of companies were various businesses that benefited the Macri family economically by providing services to the dictatorship regime — including, ironically, the postal company Correo Argentino, privatized under the dictatorship in 1979, that has been used to target Fernandez’ mother. Grupo Socma’s corporate empire expanded over six fold during the dictatorship.
Fernandez didn’t let Macri’s dubious corporate dealings slide in her letter responding to accusations against her mother, arguing that Argentina’s “problem” begins with elites like him and his family.
“Your father and others like him who stabilized the debt of their companies while the genocidal dictatorship disappeared millions of Argentines,” she wrote. “You all, who have more offshore accounts and companies than hairs on my head.”
Fernandez concluded her letter with an unrelenting attack on the failure of Macri’s austerity policies less than a year into his term in office.
“I ask, what if you tried putting a little bit of the energy you spend chasing me, my daughter and now my mother and solve the problems that you guys, always you guys, have caused for millions of citizens?” she wrote. “I am sure that things would go better for the government and for Argentina.”