EspañolWas Argentinean Vice President Amado Boudou hospitalized for a heart attack? Did one of the suspects who allegedly covered up for Iran have 300 assault rifles stashed on a farm in the interior of Argentina? Was President Cristina Kirchner behind the whole thing?
These are some of the questions that emerged from over 40,000 audio files collected by Alberto Nisman in the course of his investigations into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, and released by local news outlet Infobae on March 1.
The website published the entire unsorted collection of intercepted audio files, handed over by a former colleague to whom the late Nisman entrusted his dossier of evidence.
Some of the files, including recorded telephone conversations and voicemail messages, were used by the prosecutor to support his allegations that Kirchner, her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, and several senior officials covered up Iran’s role in the AMIA attack that claimed 85 lives and wounded dozens more.
The digital newspaper indicates that only part of the collection were included in Nisman’s formal accusations. “These recordings were authorized by federal judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral — head of the Sixth National Court for Criminal and Correctional cases — and carried out by the Intelligence Secretariat (SI),” Infobae reports. Canicoba has now taken up the AMIA case in Nisman’s stead.
The PanAm Post analyzed several of the most controversial recordings, including those which intelligence agent Ramón Allan Héctor Bogado, also known as el francés (the Frenchman), says in a telephone conversation with Iranian leader Jorge Yusuf Khalil that the Argentinean vice president, currently under investigation for corruption charges, has suffered a heart attack.
The conversation is dated to January 12, 2013. No official government confirmation or media report was made at the time of the exchange.
Bogado: I’ll give you a tip: we’ve got Boudou hospitalized.
Khalil: No way, what happened?
Bogado: Hospitalized with a heart attack. The president’s away, there’s no one in charge.
Khalil: Fill me in, because if Rojkés [Beatriz Rojkés de Alperovich, then provisional Senate president and next in line to the presidency] becomes president we’re in trouble.
Bogado: We’re holding back to see [what happens].
On this date, Kirchner happened to be on a visit to Havana, Cuba, to visit former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who was himself hospitalized for cancer treatment at that time. The president subsequently traveled to the United Arab Emirates en route to several Asian countries.
In another audio file Khalil, Iran’s alleged representative in Argentina, who was being monitored by the Intelligence Secretariat, can he heard speaking with Bogado on April 13, 2013. In the conversation, he refers to the theft of 300 assault rifles, among other equipment, from a farm in the Argentinean province of La Pampa. Some of these weapons are presumed to belong to Bogado.
Khalil: They stole everything from me, apparently … the neighbor went to report that they came to steal, they stole all the weapons. And from me too. And I had all of yours there too.
Bogado: No! You’re killing me, boludo. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do. I’ll have to head there tomorrow [to the farm]. I can’t believe it.
The conversation continues:
Bogado: I can’t believe you. What else did they take from you?
Khalil: Everything, everything, the whole 300, all the automatic rifles there, the television equipment … everything. I can’t call anyone.
A third recording shared by Nisman’s colleague features the Argentinean Islamic leader Abdul Karim Paz speaking with the Iranian official about negotiations between their two countries.
Khalil: Basically, all that Argentina needs in petroleum and everything that Iran’s buying in grain we can give in this petroleum exchange for grain. Now there’s something serious discussed. It’s discussed with [Federal Planning Minister Julio] De Vido. Ready?
Karim Paz: Can you repeat?
Khalil: All of this has been spoken about with De Vido. Argentina has a huge need for petroleum and Iran has a huge need for grain. So, the exchange. On the other hand, De Vido understands that to be able to take a step towards this we need to sign the memorandum [with Iran], because without this [only] the private firms will carry on operating.
The crux of Nisman’s allegations was the change in Argentina’s position on relations with Iran. Through the signing of the memorandum of understanding with Tehran, Argentina opened the door to future commercial relations. The objective was, according to various recordings, to exchange crops and weapons for Iranian oil. The above audio file in particular had leaked out already before Infobae placed all 40,000 recordings online.
In other files, Khalil speaks with a woman in the presidential palace to arrange a meeting at Banco Nación. The motive for the meeting is unknown.
Nisman Case Hangs in Balance
Last week, Argentinean judge Daniel Rafecas dismissed the charges introduced by federal prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita, who had presented Nisman’s dossier of evidence against Kirchner in the AMIA case.
Pollicita has since filed an appeal with the First Hall of the Federal Chamber in Buenos Aires.
For the prosecutor, Rafecas’ decision was made in a “premature” manner. He argued that the judge should have investigated the charges before dismissing them. Pollicita also asked the judiciary to take into account the 40,000 audio files.
Translated by Laurie Blair. Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.
EspañolLast September, the Obama administration gave a US$277 million grant to the leftist government of El Salvador, in recognition of its commitment, inter alia, to “political rights, civil liberties, freedom of information, government effectiveness, rule of law, and control of corruption.” Last Sunday, that same government conducted botched congressional and municipal elections, leaving Salvadorans in the dark about who won the country’s 84 Legislative Assembly seats and most of the 262 mayoral posts. Despite the lack of official data, the two major parties, the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) have declared that their internal tallies show favorable results for their slate of candidates. Naturally, opposition activists assume the ruling party is committing fraud to hold on to a working majority in the assembly, casting doubt on the governability of the country. Opposition activists assume the ruling party is committing fraud to hold on to a working majority in the assembly. Five days after 2.6 million Salvadorans went to the polls, the electoral authorities have yet to release any official results. Julio Olivo, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), acknowledged that a “glitch” had prevented the release of preliminary results of the election, warning all parties and candidates that no one could be declared a winner until the issue is resolved. “We have had a problem disclosing [the data] and we must admit that to the nation,” Olivo commented during a press conference. The electoral authorities have blamed the company responsible for the transmission of data, accusing it of incompetence and even “sabotage.” On Thursday, Olivo said he intended to sue the firm, saying, “A bunch of people are going to fall.” On the same day, the manual vote count was halted when about 30 electoral workers came down with “food poisoning.” These failures were foretold. Opposition parties have noted that the problems with the vote tally were exposed during the two mock elections conducted by the TSE a few days before the election. In the simulation of data transmission prior to the election, materials and equipment failed to reach 19 municipalities of the capital city of San Salvador, and only half of the 125,000 test ballots were uploaded into the system. Even after these failed tests, TSE chief Olivo expressed confidence in his team and contractors, saying, “There is great technology and IT talent. Computer wizards are working on this, cooperating with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.” The manual vote count was halted when about 30 electoral workers came down with “food poisoning.” Now that the electoral results have still not been published, ARENA has expressed concern about the failures caused by the transmission of data and demanded that the TSE “correct this error and provide information to the public immediately.” The September grant by the US Millennium Challenge Corporation was supposed to be conditioned on El Salvador’s above average performance on specific criteria, measuring “economic freedom, investing in people, and ruling justly.” Instead, it was apparent at the time that the Obama administration dispensed with an objective appraisal of the country’s economic performance in order to curry favor with the leftist FMLN government. Since taking office last June, FMLN president (and former Marxist guerrilla commander) Salvador Sánchez Cerén has failed to jumpstart the weakest economy in Central America (growing at just 2.2 percent). Worse yet, the country’s murder rate rose by nearly 60 percent in the last year. The failure of Sunday’s elections casts more doubt on the ability or willingness of the FMLN government to govern justly or effectively. This article first appeared with the American Enterprise Institute.