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Update on ivermectin for covid-19

By Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. | May 9, 2021

Back in January I wrote an article about four randomized controlled trials of ivermectin as a treatment for covid-19 that had at that time released their results to the public. Each of those four trials had promising results, but each was also too small individually to show any meaningful impact on the hard outcomes we really care about, like death. When I meta-analyzed them together however, the results suddenly appeared very impressive. Here’s what that meta-analysis looked like:

It showed a massive 78% reduction in mortality in patients treated with covid-19. Mortality is the hardest of hard end points, which means it’s the hardest for researchers to manipulate and therefore the least open to bias. Either someone’s dead, or they’re alive. End of story.

You would have thought that this strong overall signal of benefit in the midst of a pandemic would have mobilized the powers that be to arrange multiple large randomized trials to confirm these results as quickly as possible, and that the major medical journals would be falling over each other to be the first to publish these studies.

That hasn’t happened.

Rather the opposite, in fact. South Africa has even gone so far as to ban doctors from using ivermectin on covid-19 patients. And as far as I can tell, most of the discussion about ivermectin in mainstream media (and in the medical press) has centred not around its relative merits, but more around how its proponents are clearly deluded tin foil hat wearing crazies who are using social media to manipulate the masses.

In spite of this, trial results have continued to appear. That means we should now be able to conclude with even greater certainty whether or not ivermectin is effective against covid-19. Since there are so many of these trials popping up now, I’ve decided to limit the discussion here only to the ones I’ve been able to find that had at least 150 participants, and that compared ivermectin to placebo (although I’ll add even the smaller trials I’ve found in to the updated meta-analysis at the end).

As before, it appears that rich western countries have very little interest in studying ivermectin as a treatment for covid. The three new trials that had at least 150 participants and compared ivermectin with placebo were conducted in Colombia, Iran, and Argentina. We’ll go through each in turn.

The Colombian trial (Lopez-Medina et al.) was published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) in March. There is one thing that is rather odd with this study, and that is that the study authors were receiving payments from Sanofi-Pasteur, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Janssen, Merck, and Gilead while conducting the study. Gilead makes remdesivir. Merck is developing two expensive new drugs to treat covid-19. Janssen, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, and Sanofi-Pasteur are all developers of covid vaccines. In other words, the authors of the study were receiving funding from companies that own drugs that are direct competitors to ivermectin. One might call this a conflict of interest, and wonder whether the goal of the study was to show a lack of benefit. It’s definitely a little bit suspicious.

Anyway, let’s get to what the researchers actually did. This was a double-blind randomized controlled trial that recruited patients with mildly symptomatic covid-19 who had experienced symptom onset less than 7 days earlier. Potential participants were identified through a statewide database of people with positive PCR-tests. By “mildly symptomatic” the researchers meant people who had at least one symptom but who did not require high-flow oxygen at the time of recruitment in to the trial.

Participants in the treatment group received 300 ug/kg body weight of ivermectin every day for five days, while participants in the placebo group received an identical placebo. 300 ug/kg works out to 21 mg for an average 70 kg adult, which is quite high, especially when you consider that the dose was given daily for five days. For an average person, this would work out to a total dose of 105 mg. The other ivermectin trials have mostly given around 12 mg per day for one or two days, for a total dose of 12 to 24 mg (which has been considered enough because ivermectin has a long half-life in the body). Why this study gave such a high dose is unclear. However, it shouldn’t be a problem. Ivermectin is a very safe drug, and studies have been done where people have been given ten times the recommended dose without any noticeable increase in adverse events.

The stated goal of the study was to see if ivermectin resulted in more rapid symptom resolution than placebo. So participants were contacted by telephone every three days after inclusion in the study, up to day 21, and asked about what symptoms they were experiencing.

398 patients were included in the study. The median age of the participants was 37 years, and they were overall very healthy. 79% had no known co-morbidities. This is a shame. It means that this study is yet another one of those many studies that will not be able to show a meaningful effect on hard end points like hospitalization and death. It is a bit strange that studies keep being done on young healthy people who are at virtually zero risk from covid-19, rather than on the multi-morbid elderly, who are the ones we actually need an effective treatment for.

Anyway, let’s get to the results.

In the group treated with ivermectin, the average time from inclusion in the study to becoming completely symptom free was 10 days. In the placebo group that number was 12 days. So, the ivermectin treated patients recovered on average two days faster. However, the difference was not statistically significant, so the result could easily be due to chance. At 21 days after inclusion in the study, 82% had recovered fully in the ivermectin group, as compared to 79% in the placebo group. Again, the small difference was not statistically significant.

In terms of the hard end points that matter more, there were zero deaths in the ivermectin group and there was one death in the placebo group. 2% of participants in the ivermectin group required “escalation of care” (hospitalization if they were outside the hospital at the start of the study, or oxygen therapy if they were in hospital at the start of the study) as compared with 5% in the placebo group. None of these differences was statistically significant. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t real. Like I wrote earlier, the fact that this was a study of healthy young people meant that, even if a meaningful difference does exist in risk of dying of covid, or of ending up in hospital, this study was never going to find it.

So, what can we conclude?

Ivermectin does not meaningfully shorten duration of symptoms in healthy young people. That’s about all we can say from this study. Considering the conflicts of interest of the authors, my guess is that this was the goal of the study all along: Gather together a number of young healthy people that is too small for there to be any chance of a statistically significant benefit, and then get the result you want. The media will sell the result as “study shows ivermectin doesn’t work” (which they dutifully did).

It is interesting that there were signals of benefit for all the parameters the researchers looked at (resolution of symptoms, escalation of care, death), but that the relatively small number and good health status of the participants meant that there was little chance of any of the results reaching statistical significance.

Let’s move on to the next study, which is currently available as a pre-print on Research Square (Niaee et al.). It was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, and carried out at five different hospitals in Iran. It was funded by an Iranian university.

In order to be included in the trial, participants had to be over the age of 18 and admitted to hospital because of a covid-19 infection (which was defined as symptoms suggestive of covid plus either a CT scan typical of covid infection or a positive PCR test).

150 participants were randomized to either placebo (30 people) or varying doses of ivermectin (120 people). The fact that they chose to make the placebo group so small is a problem, because it makes it very hard to detect any differences even if they do exist, by making the statistical certainty of the results in the placebo group very low.

The participants were on average 56 years old and the average oxygen saturation before initiation of treatment was 89% (normal is more than 95%), so this was a pretty sick group. Unfortunately no information is provided on how far along people were in the disease course when they started receiving ivermectin. It stands to reason that the drug is more likely to work if given ten days after symptom onset than when given twenty days after symptom onset, since death usually happens around day 21. If you, for example, wanted to design a trial to fail, you could start treating people at a time point when there is no time for the drug you’re testing to have a chance work, so it would have been nice to know at what time point treatment started in this trial.

So, what were the results?

20% of the participants in the placebo group died (6 out of 30 people). 3% of the participants in the various ivermectin groups died (4 out of 120 people). That is an 85% reduction in the relative risk of death, which is huge.

So, in spite of the fact that the placebo group was so small, it was still possible to see a big difference in mortality. Admittedly, this is a pre-print (i.e. it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet), and the absolute numbers of deaths are small, so there is some scope for random chance to have created these results (maybe people in the placebo group were just very unlucky!). However, the study appears to have followed all the steps expected for a high quality trial. It was carried out at multiple different hospitals, it used randomization and a control group that received a placebo, and it was double-blinded. And death is a very hard end point that is not particularly open to bias. So unless the researchers have falsified their data, then this study constitutes reasonably good evidence that ivermectin is highly effective when given to patients hospitalized with covid-19. That’s great, because it would mean that the drug can be given quite late in the disease course and still show benefit.

Let’s move on to the third trial (Chahla et al.), which is currently available as a pre-print on MedRxiv. It was carried out in Argentina, and funded by the Argentinean government. Like the first trial we discussed, this was a study of people with mild disease. It literally boggles my mind that so many researchers choose to study people with mild disease instead of studying those with more severe disease. Especially when you consider that these studies are all so small. A study of people with mild disease needs to be very large to find a statistically significant effect, since most people with covid do well regardless. The risk of false negative results is thus enormous. If you’re going to do a small-ish study, and you want to have a reasonable chance of producing results that reach statistical significance, it would make much more sense to do it on sick hospitalized patients.

The study was randomized, but it wasn’t blinded, and there was no placebo. In other words, the intervention group received ivermectin (24 mg per day), while the control group didn’t receive anything. This is a bad bad thing. It means that any non-hard outcomes produced by the study are really quite worthless, since there is so much scope for the placebo effect and other confounding factors to mess up the results. For hard outcomes, in particular death, it should be less of a problem (although we wouldn’t expect any deaths in such a small study of mostly healthy people with mild disease anyway).

The study included people over the age of 18 with symptoms suggestive of covid-19 and a positive PCR test. The average age of the participants was 40 years, and most had no underlying health issues. A total of 172 people were recruited in to the study.

The researchers chose to look at how quickly people became free of symptoms as their primary endpoint. This is enormously problematic, since the study, as already mentioned, wasn’t blinded and there was no placebo. Any difference between the groups could easily be explained by the placebo effect and by biases towards treatment benefit among the researchers.

Anyway, the study found that 49% in the treatment group were free of symptoms at five to nine days after the beginning of treatment, compared with 81% in the control group. However, the lack of blinding means that this result is worthless. The methodology is just too flawed.

No data is provided on the number of people who died in each group. Since it isn’t reported, I think it’s safe to assume that there were no deaths in either group. Nor is any data provided on the number of hospitalizations in each group.

So, what does this study tell us?

Absolutely nothing at all. What a waste of time and money.

Let’s move on and update our meta-analysis. The reason we need to do a meta-analysis here is that none of the trials of ivermectin is large enough on its own to provide a definitive answer as to whether it is a useful treatment for covid-19 or not. For those who haven’t heard of meta-analyses before, basically what you do is just take the results from all different studies in existence that fulfill your pre-selected criteria, and then put them together, so as a to create a single large “meta”-study. This allows you to produce results that have a much higher level of statistical significance. It is particularly useful in a situation where all the individual trials you have to work with are statistically underpowered (have too few participants), as is the case here.

In this new meta-analysis, I’ve included every double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial I could find of ivermectin as a treatment for covid. Using only double-blind placebo-controlled trials means that only the highest quality studies are included in this meta-analysis, which minimizes the risk of biases messing up the results as far as possible. In order to be included, a study also had to provide mortality data, since the goal of the meta-analysis is to see if there is any difference in mortality.

I was able to identify seven trials that fulfilled these criteria, with a total of 1,327 participants. Here’s what the meta-analysis shows:

What we see is a 62% reduction in the relative risk of dying among covid patients treated with ivermectin. That would mean that ivermectin prevents roughly three out of five covid deaths. The reduction is statistically significant (p-value 0,004). In other words, the weight of evidence supporting ivermectin continues to pile up. It is now far stronger than the evidence that led to widespred use of remdesivir earlier in the pandemic, and the effect is much larger and more important (remdesivir was only ever shown to marginally decrease length of hospital stay, it was never shown to have any effect on risk of dying).

I understand why pharmaceutical companies don’t like ivermectin. It’s a cheap generic drug. Even Merck, the company that invented ivermectin, is doing it’s best to destroy the drug’s reputation at the moment. This can only be explained by the fact that Merck is currently developing two expensive new covid drugs, and doesn’t want an off-patent drug, which it can no longer make any profit from, competing with them.

The only reason I can think to understand why the broader medical establishment, however, is still so anti-ivermectin is that these studies have all been done outside the rich west. Apparently doctors and scientists outside North America and Western Europe can’t be trusted, unless they’re saying things that are in line with our pre-conceived notions.

Researchers at McMaster university are currently organizing a large trial of ivermectin as a treatment for covid-19, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. That trial is expected to enroll over 3,000 people, so it should be definitive. It’s going to be very interesting to see what it shows when the results finally get published.

May 9, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Argentine Government to Launch Legal Action Against Ex-President Over IMF Loan

Sputnik – 10.04.2021

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez issued a decree instructing the country’s special legal body to act as a plaintiff on behalf of the state in a case against his predecessor Mauricio Macri, stemmed from his decision to take a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the amount of $50 billion.

“Prosecutors representing the state as the claimant are ordered to pursue the case, ‘Mauricio Macri and others, fraud against state bodies’ … and to facilitate the advancement of the criminal process in order to determine those responsible for the crime,” the decree says.

The document further states that the case is related to Marci’s decision to take a loan from the IMF in the amount of $50 billion in 2018. The current government has repeatedly spoken about the difficulties surrounding paying off the debt and began negotiations with the IMF on a new assistance program.

In addition, lawyers were instructed to initiate actions leading to compensation for possible losses incurred as a result of the actions of the previous authorities.

The decree was signed by the country’s current president, prime minister, and ministers of economy and justice.

April 10, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Cristina Fernandez Scores Major Win on Google’s Defamation Case

Vice President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Buenos Aires, March 20, 2021. 

Vice President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Buenos Aires, March 20, 2021. Photo: Twitter/ @thesunpostnews
teleSUR | March 20, 2021

In May 2020, Google defamed the Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner by calling her “Thief of the Argentine Nation” instead of making reference to her position.

Argentina’s Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Google against the ruling which forces the company to keep the defamatory information against Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Last year, Cristina filed a petition with her country’s justice system demanding that U.S. tech giant Google preserve the data naming her as “Thief of the Argentine Nation.”

The nickname appeared on Google’s platform replacing the information about her current positions when entering the Vice President’s name. The result was displayed without referring to any third-party website but under the sole responsibility of Google.

The Supreme Court ruling forces Google to keep the data associated with Fernandez from May 17, 2020, until the end of the investigation process, which will allow to get proofs and assess the defamation.

“Google’s reach in the world is immeasurable, so the damage generated in this opportunity is difficult to calculate without the results of the expert evidence,” said the former president’s lawyer Carlos Berardi.

Former president Cristina Fernandez (2007-2015) declared that if she wins the defamation case and there is compensation for the caused damages, the payment will be donated to the “Sor Maria Ludovica” Children’s Hospital in La Plata.

March 20, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Argentina Denounces Presence of US Submarine

A United Kingdom aircraft from the British Independent Overseas Territory (BIOT) Falklands Islands recently collaborated with USS Greeneville (SSN 772) in the South Atlantic open ocean, demonstrating the global reach of both nations’ forces.

teleSUR | February 13, 2021

The Argentine Foreign Ministry, through an official statement published on its website expressed Friday its “serious concern” about the presence in the South Atlantic of the U.S. nuclear submarine USS Greeneville.

“The Argentine government expresses its serious concern over information that emerged from the official Twitter account of the Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic, by which it is pointed out that they would have recently operated with British support in the South Atlantic,” the Foreign Ministry expresses.

The statement also recalls that “carrying and using nuclear weapons” in the mentioned area contradicts resolutions of the United Nations Organization and urged to respect the region as a “zone of peace and cooperation.”

“The presence of ships capable of carrying and using nuclear weapons in the South Atlantic contradicts Resolution 41/11 of the United Nations General Assembly (Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic),” the communiqué stresses.

The official document recalls that the aforementioned resolution “calls upon States of all other regions, especially militarily important States, to scrupulously respect the South Atlantic region as a zone of peace and cooperation.”

“It is not the first time that Argentina” denounces “the presence of a British military base in the Malvinas Islands”, which is contrary to “various United Nations resolutions such as 31/49, which calls on the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to expedite negotiations on the sovereignty dispute.”

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Brexit Could See the Return of the Falkland Islands to Argentina

By Paul Antonopoulos | December 19, 2019

The Islas Malvinas, or more commonly known as the Falkland Islands, archipelago was invaded by the United Kingdom in 1833 and its occupation has continued to date. Argentina’s claim for sovereignty through diplomatic means has been a state policy since the failed liberation attempt through military means in 1982. Although it lost intensity during the Mauricio Macri government, President Alberto Fernández of the leftist Justicialist Party, reinforced in October his commitment to “renew the claim of sovereignty” of the 750 islands of the archipelago. In a patriotic tone, the then presidential candidate criticized the relations Macri had with the United Kingdom during a debate that took place on October 13.

“In these years the government has been very busy doing business with the United Kingdom and has forgotten sovereignty [over] the Falklands. Over 700 soldiers have died there. In memory of them all I will make things different,” Fernández said during the first Argentine presidential debate.

Fernández will re-establish a Secretariat for the ​​Malvinas, demonstrating that he is taking the issue against the British very seriously. During his swearing in speech before the National Congress on December 10, the new president informed that he will create a Secretariat, with the participation of “all political forces,” the southern province of Tierra del Fuego that is closest to the Malvinas, representatives of the academic world and former fighters of the 1982 war, to concentrate on the reclamation of the occupied archipelago.

Fernández included the claim by the Falkland Islands in his speech when he assumed the presidency and said “there is no more place for colonialism in the 21st century.”

“We know that for this task it does not reach the mandate of a Government, but a medium and long-term State policy, so I will convene a Congress where all political forces participate,” he announced.

Fernández decision to re-establish the Malvinas Secretariat and to convene a Council on the subject restores confidence and firmness in Argentina’s demand against the British after complete servitude by Macri. The importance the new president has given to Argentina’s demand for sovereignty over the islands is a good sign and it is the first time a new president has spoken with such depth to the Malvinas issue when they first take office.

Fernández’s stance demonstrates that the Malvinas do not belong to any president, they are a state matter in which it is necessary to work as a state policy for not only the present, but also looking to the future. The establishment of the Secretariat is aimed to positively re-establish consensus on the basis of and essential demand for sovereignty, leaving the differing approaches in Argentina to the cause and the 1982 war conflict in the past with the aim of looking only towards the future.

It must be remembered that a new Sao Paulo-Malvinas flight opened on Argentine National Sovereignty Day on November 20, a massive slap in the face to the Argentinian veterans from the 1982 war, who did not hesitate to go out protest. LATAM inaugurated the flight which has a stop in the Argentine city of Córdoba. War veterans protested in front of the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires against what they described as treachery by Macri. Fernández has an opportunity to gain even more popular support by forcing the cancellation of flights by LATAM to the Malvinas and by ensuring the islands have no lifeline except with their colonial masters in London approximately 13,000 kilometers away.

Conservative Boris Johnson won the British election on December 12, which put the South American islanders on alert. The possibility of the definitive implementation of Brexit will harm the local economy, whose production has the European Union as one of its main markets. Brexit is a favorable situation for Argentina because in the view of the European Union, the Malvinas are an extracontinental territory, something that will complicate the local economy, just as what will happen with British-occupied Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula and areas in Cyprus.

In this context Argentina must start seeking new alliances with European countries and condemn the maintenance of a British colony on the complete opposite side of the Atlantic and with total impunity. With Spain wanting the return of Gibraltar and Cyprus wanting the return of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Argentina can very easily find new allies in the European Union willing to cooperate efforts to reclaim sovereignty over territory occupied by the British. Brexit therefore not only threatens the breakup of the United Kingdom with a push for Scottish independence and Irish unification, but it could potentially see the return of the Malvinas to Argentina.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Argentina to Freeze Gas and Electricity Rates

teleSUR | December 18, 2019

The Government of Alberto Fernández sent the draft law on Social Solidarity and Productive Reactivation to Congress on Tuesday morning, which, among other matters, plans to freeze gas and electricity rates for six months.

The bill also contemplates a “reduction of the real tariff burden on households and businesses by the year 2020”, a policy that will reverse the tariffs imposed since the Mauricio Macri regime took over.

The rates of these two basic services will be frozen for 180 days, while the executive branch begins a “renegotiation process of the current Comprehensive Rate Review” or “an extraordinary revision”.

Likewise, the bill authorizes the Argentine Government to intervene in the National Electricity Regulatory Entity (ENRE) and the National Gas Regulatory Entity (Enargas), for a period of one year.

The Solidarity Law seeks “the rate restructuring of the energy system with criteria of distributive equity and productive sustainability”, as well as “reorder the operation of the regulatory entities of the system”.

This latest bill is one of the first major moves by the Fernandez government to reverse the neoliberal policies of the previous regime.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

Fernandez Government Incorporating ‘Peronism’ to End Poverty, Misery – Argentine Lawyer

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 11.12.2019

On 10 December, Alberto Fernandez was sworn in as the new president of Argentina. Gonzalo Fiore Viani, a lawyer and political analyst, outlines the major economic and foreign policy challenges faced by the new “Peronist” government.

Argentine Peronist leader Alberto Fernandez, who won the October presidential elections with 47.9% of the vote, unveiled his new cabinet on 6 December announcing that Martin Guzman, a 37-year old protege of prominent US economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, will become the country’s next economy minister. Guzman will have to deal with Argentina’s galloping inflation, rising unemployment and a $100 billion debt.

How Fernandez Gov’t Will Deal With Argentine Economic Crisis

Last year the dire economic situation prompted Fernandez’ predecessor, Mauricio Macri, to request a $56-billion IMF loan. As of yet, about $45 billion has been disbursed to the recession-hit country. While the loan fell short of breathing new life into Argentina’s economy, this year the country has to start repaying its debts. There are fears that Buenos Aires is teetering on the verge of a new sovereign default.

Guzman, a vocal critic of the IMF’s policies, is expected to hold talks with creditors to restructure Buenos Aires’ financial obligations.

“By 2020, Argentina has to face the fulfilment of obligations for almost $55 billion dollars”, says Gonzalo Fiore Viani, a lawyer and political analyst from Cordoba, Argentina. “Therefore the payment of capital and interest commitments must necessarily be suspended for a while. Martin Guzman, the new minister of economy, is a specialist in sovereign debt, so he can manage the central problem of the Argentine economy, taking into account the proposed suspension of payments, both due and due for two years.”Viani says that Argentina today has a liquidity and solvency problem, that is, shortages of pesos and dollars to face the payment of the debt amid the economic slowdown.

“Currently, inherited debt represents 90 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), in addition to a financial deficit that implies 5 percent of GDP,” he says.

Yet another issue the Fernandez government is going to deal with is poverty. According to the Catholic University of Argentina, about 40 percent of Argentines are considered poor. “The social situation is so serious that the government must act first in that regard”, the political analyst underscores referring to Fernandez’ idea of “ethics solidarity” to end poverty and misery in the country.

To solve these issues, Guzman is seeking to revive the country’s economic growth and boost production in the export sector. He argues against pouring the IMF’s money to service Argentina’s bonds and implementing the organisation’s austerity scheme. According to him, the IMF programme does not work while the deepening of austerity policies is only leading to greater recession.

According to Viani, Peronism, a political doctrine based on legacy of former President Juan Peron and sometimes described as “right-wing socialism,” is making a comeback in Argentina.

“Peronism returns with a heterogeneous coalition of government, with all its internal lines represented, I think it is a return to what was the first government of Nestor Kirchner. And Alberto Fernandez can become the new Kirchner, or even the new Raul Alfonsin,” the political analyst believes.

One Should Expect New Shift in Argentina’s Foreign Policy

Apart from upcoming changes in domestic policy, Viani also expects a shift in Argentina’s foreign strategy under Fernandez: “I think the international politics of the new government will be totally opposite to the one that Macri had,” he says. “Relations with Russia, almost inexistent during the Macri administration, will be now stronger”.

He highlights that “the election of Felipe Sola, a man with no diplomatic background but a very skilled politician, as foreign minister, has to do with the importance of international relations in a very complex world.”

Meanwhile, the centre-left takeover in Argentina has seemingly chilled relations between Buenos Aires and Brasilia with Jair Bolsonaro not attending Fernandez’ inauguration and then sending his vice president to the ceremony. Viani suggests that right-wing politician Bolsonaro’s move was driven by “ideological reasons.”

“But besides that, Bolsonaro wants to have a major role in the region, becoming the indisputable leader of Latin America, but that is impossible having a progressive government in Argentina,” the political analyst remarks.

Why Buenos Aires Needs Working Relations With Both China & US

Viani foresees that Buenos Aires will further strengthen economic cooperation with Beijing. The two countries have maintained close ties for quite a while despite political changes in Argentina.

Under Macri, the People’s Republic of China provided loans to Argentina and extended bilateral currency swap collaboration launched in 2009 by then President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Additionally, the country’s telecom sector is continuing cooperation with China’s tech giant Huawei, that has recently found itself in the cross hairs of the Trump administration.

Washington is obviously displeased with China’s growing influence in the region which the US has for many decades considered its backyard. In October 2018 US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo warned Latin American states: “When China comes calling it’s not always to the good of your citizens”, while commenting on the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Assessing the prospects of Argentine-American ties, the analyst opines that while “Fernandez and Trump’s relationship seemed to have started off with the right foot but quickly tensed due to cross-statements about the coup in Bolivia”.

To add to the controversy, on 2 December, Trump tweeted that he was going to restore steel and aluminium tariffs on Argentina and Brazil.

“With regard to Argentina, the rise in tariffs worries because it can serve as an advance for a tightening in US trade policy and in the renegotiation of the debt with the IMF”, the political analyst says. “In addition one of the big problems that the next government will face is the lack of dollars”.

According to Viani, while pursuing independent foreign and domestic policy Buenos Aires still needs to maintain working relations with Washington to solve the external debt problem.

“I believe that with a pragmatic policy, the new government can have good relations with the United States but also to maintain sovereign external policy to contribute to the development of the country,” he says.

December 11, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

Alberto Fernandez Wins Argentine Presidential Election

Sputnik – 28.10.2019

BUENOS AIRES – Incumbent president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, congratulated on Sunday his rival, opposition leader Alberto Fernandez, on winning the presidential election.

With 91.21 percent of ballots counted, Fernandez has 47.83 percent of the vote, Macri has 40.66 percent.

“I want to congratulate President-elect Alberto Fernandez,” Macri said, addressing the citizens.

He added that he had invited Fernandez to a meeting on Monday.

According to Argentine legislation, the victory in the first round is secured for the candidate who will gain either more than 45 percent of the vote, or more than 40 percent with a 10 percentage points lead over the closest opponent.

Besides the presidential election Argentina held the parliamentary voting on Sunday. The Argentine voters had to elect 130 out of 257 members of the Chamber of Deputies, 24 out of 72 members of the Senate as well as four governors.

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Argentina: Cristina Fernandez Goes to Trial Again Amid Campaign

teleSUR | September 21, 2019

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon: “Like Lula and Correa, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is being the object of a clear political persecution because she defends the people and faces immeasurable power structures.”

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio on Friday asked Argentine’s Senate to take away Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s legislative immunity in order to put the lawmaker in preventive detention for alleged connections to the “Notebooks” corruption case.

For the second time in less than a year, former president Fernandez (2007-2015) must appear in federal court for her alleged connections to irregular public spending during her administration.

The judge’s decision comes just as Fernandez de Kirchner is running for vice president alongside Alberto Fernandez for the Oct. 27 elections, and polls and primaries show them as the favorites to win.

Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli accuses Fernandez de Kirchner of being the “boss” of an illicit ring of politicians who raised money from private companies in exchange for granting them public contracts. A ledger ‘notebook’ supposedly lists all the transactions. A former chauffeur of Fernandez de Kirchner allegedly recorded the sums of money that the former president and her husband, Nestor Kirchner, also a former head of state, received.

More than 170 people have already been processed in the Notebooks case, among them are the owners of large private businesses who have already been released.

During the previous legal proceedings related to the case, Fernandez de Kirchern’s lawyers denounced several irregularities, including biased statements made by other defendants, indiscriminate detentions, burned evidence and other constitutional and due process violations.

According to Judge Bonadino, the vice presidential candidate should appear at an oral trial in the near future, but his request for Cristina’s preventive detention cannot be executed until the Argentinian legislative removes Fernandez de Kirchner’s legal immunity as a sitting legislator.

If this were to happen before the next elections on Oct. 27, Argentina would experience an unprecedented political crisis, amid growing popular mobilizations which are being carried out in rejection of President Mauricio Macri’s neoliberal policies, rising unemployment, poverty and hunger.

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez & Cristina Kirchner crush President Macri in ‘preliminary elections’

Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner © Reuters / Agustin Marcarian
RT | August 12, 2019

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri has conceded defeat in the primary elections after suffering a massive loss to the center-left nominee Alberto Fernandez and his running mate, former president Cristina Kirchner.

“We’ve suffered a bad election,” right-wing Macri said on Sunday night, but vowed to “redouble” his efforts to secure the ‘real’ elections in October.

The nationwide primary election, introduced in Argentina in 2011, is held simultaneously for all parties and serves as a good indication of how the presidential race would swing when people cast their vote in the general election on October 27. The Sunday vote landed the incumbent president with 32.36 percent of support, while Fernandez obtained 47.22 percent. Center-right Roberto Lavagna came in third with 8.39 percent.

Fernandez, who served as the chief of the Cabinet of Ministers during Nestor Kirchner’s presidency, vowed to create a “new” Argentina. “Argentinians realized we are the change, not them,” Fernandez said during his victory speech in Buenos Aires, promising “to end this time of lies and give a new horizon.”

Fernandez’s running mate, former head of state Cristina Kirchner, feels optimistic about their chances of winning the general election and their ability to improve the socioeconomic situation in Argentina.

“We know of the difficult moment that the country is going through, of millions of Argentines who have lost their jobs, we have talked with so many, we know what it is. This gives us the responsibility that we have to reach everyone to give them absolute peace of mind,” she said.

Argentina’s economy continues to sink, with inflation rising to 55 percent and poverty levels increasing to 32 percent, from around 26 percent the previous year. The massive $57 billion deal Macri secured last year with the International Monetary Fund has so far failed to improve the situation.

August 12, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

US Imposes Sanctions on Hezbollah Senior Leader Over 1994 Terror Attack in Argentina

Sputnik – July 19, 2019

Hezbollah’s top figure, Salman Raouf Salman, stands accused of the bombing of a Jewish centre perpetrated 25 years ago in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires.

The United States has introduced sanctions on a senior Hezbollah leader, a Colombian-born Lebanese national Salman Raouf Salman, over his complicity in terrorist attacks, according to the US Treasury. The top Hezbollah operative is accused of coordinating the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires in 1994.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it added Salman Raouf Salman to its specially designated nationals list.

Treasury undersecretary of terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelker stated that Salman has continued to orchestrate terrorist operations in the Western Hemisphere for Hezbollah since the attack in Buenos Aires.

On Thursday, Argentina’s authorities designated the Lebanese-based Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organisation and decreed a freeze of all financial assets belonging to the group.

The move coincided with the 25th anniversary of the violent attack on the Mutual Israelite Association of Argentina community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 that left 85 people dead and hundreds injured. Hezbollah denied any role in the attack.

July 19, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

“The Owner”: The Rise of Eduardo Elsztain and the Coming End of Argentina’s Democracy

Eduardo Elsztain, president of Grupo IRSA and Banco Hipotecario. Santiago Filipuzzi | La Nacion
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | April 5, 2019

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – It seemed like a longshot, but anything was possible in the mind of an ambitious, 30-year-old Eduardo Elsztain. Elsztain, then living in New York, had landed a meeting with the wealthy Hungarian-American financier George Soros, a meeting that the bulk of media reports covering Elsztain’s rise to prominence claim was arranged purely by chance. Though Elsztain was inexperienced and unknown at the time, Soros saw something he liked in the ambitious Argentine, so much so that he gave him $10 million without a second thought.

According to Elsztain’s recollection, “We talked for an hour or so, and then he asked how much money I thought I could handle. I told him I could manage $10 million.” Soros, as Elsztain remembers it, simply said “Okay, no problem.” Soros later explained his seemingly impulsive investment by saying that Elsztain “knew when to sell and when to buy.”

Soros’ investment not only changed Elsztain’s fate, but Argentina’s. With that $10 million in newly secured funding, Elsztain and his close associate Marcelo Mindlin transformed Elsztain’s grandfather’s company Inversiones y Representaciones S.A. (“Investments and Brokerage, Inc.”, better known by its Spanish acronym IRSA) into Argentina’s largest business empire. Indeed, through IRSA, Elsztain has become not only the country’s largest landowner and real estate developer, but also the dominant force in the country’s massive beef and agriculture industry, its gold mining industry, and its banking system. As a result, he has been dubbed by the Argentine press as simply “The Landowner.”

In recent years, Elsztain’s business empire has extended far beyond South America and into Israel, where he owns the majority stake in one of Israel’s largest conglomerates, IDB, as well as important stakes in several other notable Israeli companies. Israeli media frequently refers to Elsztain as “South America’s richest Jew.” These business interests have made him one of the most powerful oligarchs in both Argentina and the Zionist state.

Yet — much like British billionaire Joe Lewis, whose activities in Argentina are described in detail in Part I of this series — a litany of crimes, schemes and conspiracies lie beneath Elsztain’s sprawling business empire and his carefully crafted image of a “self-made man” devoted to Jewish charity and religious causes. Notably, Elsztain’s massive business empire is also connected to that of Lewis through Elsztain’s longtime associate and partner Marcelo Mindlin, who co-owns Argentina’s largest private power company with Lewis.

Yet, while Elsztain and Mindlin are supremely powerful and influential in their own right, they often act as the Argentine faces for policies promoted by the global oligarchy, to which they are both well connected. Indeed, Elsztain and Mindlin are connected to elite groups managed by well-known and controversial billionaire families like the Rockefellers, Rothschilds and Bronfmans, through their membership and leadership roles in groups like the Council of the Americas as well as powerful international Zionist organizations.

These connections to global oligarchy and global Zionism have recently prompted Elsztain to orchestrate a policy that, if enacted, would utterly gut Argentina’s democracy and would amount to a “bloodless coup” of a country that has long been in the sights of the global elite.


This article is Part II of a multi-part investigative series examining the efforts of the global elite, as well as powerful elements of the global Zionist lobby and the government of Israel, to create an independent state out of Argentina’s southern Patagonia region in order to plunder its natural resources and to fulfill long-standing Zionist interest in the territory that dates back to the “founding father” of Zionism, Theodore Herzl. Part I, which focuses on the de facto “parallel state” created by British billionaire Joe Lewis in Argentina’s Patagonia, can be read here. Part II focuses on Eduardo Elsztain — one of Argentina’s wealthiest businessmen, who is deeply connected to the global elite and global Zionist lobbies — and his role in a scheme to undercut Argentina’s democracy by hijacking its voting system.


Starting “small,” Elsztain gets “golden advice”

Inversones y Representaciones S.A. (IRSA), now Argentina’s largest real estate company, had humble beginnings, growing slowly after its founding in 1943 by Eduardo Elsztain’s grandfather Isaac Elsztain, a Russian-Jewish immigrant who arrived in Argentina in 1917. After his uncle’s unexpected death in 1981 and soon after Elsztain had returned from a year abroad in Israel, Elsztain took over the management of the firm, dropping out of university to do so.

When Elsztain took over most of IRSA’s management, the firm was struggling and worth barely $100,000. In order to buy IRSA shares and definitively take control of the company, Elsztain turned to his friend Marcelo Mindlin, borrowing $120,000 from him to buy stock in the company. The Mindlin-Elsztain partnership would turn spectacularly lucrative and was once called “one of the most successful business marriages of menemismo,” a reference to the presidency of Carlos Menem that oversaw the privatization wave of the 1990s.

However, it was not until Elsztain’s fateful meeting with Soros that IRSA was to become the behemoth it is today, now valued at $11.6 billion. Yet, there was another meeting that also helped Elsztain secure his future fortune, one that has received decidedly less coverage.

While he lived in New York from 1989 to 1990, prior to meeting Soros, Elsztain made another “life changing” meeting, with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachim Mendel Schneerson of the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch movement, often simply referred to as Chabad. Chabad is arguably one of the most influential Orthodox, Hasidic Jewish organizations at the international level — the Times of Israel once called it “one of the most powerful forces in world Jewry” — and Schneerson was its most prominent and final leader.

Schneerson has been touted by followers as a “prophetic visionary and pragmatic leader, synthesizing deep insight into the present needs of the Jewish people with a breadth of vision for its future,” who also “charted the course of Jewish history” in the post-World War II era. Among other things, Schneerson controversially taught that “the entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews” and was implacably hawkish in regards to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine.

Elsztain himself has characterized his meeting with Schneerson as being equally, if not more, important to his future business success as his meeting with Soros. According to an account of the meeting published in Haaretz, “the rabbi advised him to sell his holdings on the stock exchange and focus on real estate, a suggestion that turned out to be well timed.” Haaretz concluded that the “success of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s golden advice is possibly what drives Elsztain today.”

Elsztain’s deep ties to the Chabad movement, as well as the long-standing interests in Argentina of Zionists within and outside of Chabad — particularly regarding control of the country’s land and resources, with an emphasis on Patagonia — will be discussed in detail in a subsequent installment of this series. For now, it is worth noting that Chabad’s website states that Elsztain “is honorary president of Chabad of Argentina, and in that capacity has been a crucial partner for all Chabad activities in the country and even globally.”

Another important point regarding the beginnings of IRSA, and with it Elsztain and Mindlin’s sprawling business empire, is what really inspired George Soros to part with $10 million during that “happenstance” meeting with a young Argentine of no renown. Though the official story goes that Elsztain secured his meeting with Soros purely by chance, Argentine newspaper La Nación has revealed that this is merely a myth that has been used to create the impression that Elsztain’s fortune was “self-made.”

Indeed, despite the “legend” that Elsztain’s core business IRSA has tirelessly promoted of a “chance” Soros meeting, La Nación — one of Argentina’s most prestigious papers — wrote:

The real story is a bit less spectacular. Elsztain found himself face to face with Soros thanks to his contacts that he had been developing inside the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, who were responsible for opening the doors of the powerful businessman [to Elsztain].”

Another myth involves the claim that Soros was making a personal investment in Elsztain specifically. Instead, as a 1998 New York Times article reveals, Elsztain — during that fateful meeting — persuaded Soros to drop $10 million, not on IRSA or his own financial brilliance per se, but after convincing him “that new policies of the Argentine government intended to deregulate and privatize the economy were worth a gamble.” In fact, Soros had seen an opportunity not necessarily in Elsztain as an individual, but rather to plunder Argentina’s public resources via the coming wave of privatization.

Frontmen for the “free-enterprise” revolution

Soros — through his powerful connections to the international global elite and multinational corporations — was able to ensure that several lucrative privatizations fell into his lap. Elsztain and his partner Marcelo Mindlin as well became top beneficiaries of this crony capitalism as a result of their role as Soros’ Argentine frontmen for the duration of their decade-long partnership. By the time the partnership ended, at least publicly, in the early 2000s, Soros made at least $500 million in profits from his investments in partnership with Elsztain and Mindlin.

Indeed, after just eight years of “Menemismo,” Elsztain and his associates, including his brother Alejandro and Mindlin, had become “the darlings of Wall Street’s emerging-market gurus and Argentina’s free-enterprise revolutionaries.” Elsztain and Mindlin currently continue this role as frontmen but, after outgrowing Soros in the early 2000s, became Argentine frontmen for the global elite — even after splitting up their legendary partnership, as will be described in a subsequent section of this article.

After Domingo Cavallo, a Harvard-educated economist who served as president of Argentina’s Central Bank during the country’s military dictatorship, became economy minister in 1991 during Carlos Menem’s first presidential term, a wave of privatizations took place that were intended to align Argentina with the so-called “Washington Consensus” promoted by the George H.W. Bush administration. Many of those privatizations were handled by just a handful of law firms, one of which was Zang, Bergel and Viñes.

As researcher and author Fabian Spollansky has noted, Zang, Bergel and Viñes was “one of the motors of the great privatization machine” and, having been hired as “consultants” by the Menem-led government, helped oversee the privatizations of key state assets, including Córdoba Waters (Aguas de Córdoba) and state oil company YPF. During many of these privatizations, two of the firm’s partners, Saúl Zang and Ernesto Viñes, were also working for IRSA — then run by the partnership formed by Elsztain, Mindlin and Soros — and Elsztain was among the firm’s top clients.

The overlap generated many conflicts of interest, particularly in the privatization of the National Savings and Insurance Bank (Caja Nacional de Ahorro y Seguro), in the course of which Zang, Bergel and Viñes’ consultant contract with the government was canceled when it was revealed that the firm sought to sell the firm to Elsztain, who was also a client of the firm and employing Zang and Viñes separately through IRSA. This bank, now known as Caja S.A., was instead privatized and sold off to an Italian company and Argentina’s Werthein Group. The Wertheins are closely linked to Elsztain through their leadership roles in the international Zionist organization the World Jewish Congress, and their ties to Elsztain will be expanded upon in a forthcoming installment of this series.

Starting in 1987, the World Bank began to lobby Argentina’s government, then led by Raúl Alfonsín, to either privatize or close Banco Hipotecario Nacional, or the National Mortgage Bank, which was dramatically restructured in 1992 under Menem’s presidency. The bank had traditionally been used to provide extended, low-interest loans to Argentines, particularly those of lower income, and to finance the construction of both private and public works. Despite the World Bank’s efforts, the bank’s executives and employees, along with many Argentines, strongly resisted privatization efforts.

As a consequence, under the presidencies of Alfonsín and his successor Carlos Menem — whose policies, along with those of his economy minister, Domingo Cavallo, were found to have been directly responsible for the collapse of Argentina’s economy in the early 2000s — the bank underwent a “deep restructuring” that led it to dramatically reduce its staff, resulting in the closure of around 60 percent of its total branches. In addition, according to author and researcher Fabián Spollansky, the state-run bank’s coffers were manipulated for a variety of purposes that ultimately — and, as Spollansky argues, intentionally — resulted in a major crisis at the bank that led to its transformation into a wholesale bank in 1992 and to the appointment of Pablo Espartaco Rojo as its president in 1994. Espartaco Rojo had been serving as sub-secretary of deregularization and economic organization of the economy ministry, headed by Domingo Cavallo, prior to taking over control of the bank.

Espartaco Rojo spent his time as the bank’s top executive paving the way for the bank’s eventual privatization in 1997, when Elsztain’s IRSA became the top shareholder in the bank, after paying $1.2 billion that came not from IRSA but from George Soros. The price to buy the bank was astoundingly low considering that the bank’s value, according to Espartaco Rojo, was much higher — and as high as $6 billion according to some. Notably, one of the consultants hired by Espartaco Rojo to aid in the bank’s privatization process was Zang, Bergel and Viñes.

As president of the bank, Espartaco Rojo had sold the bank’s privatization to the country and to its Congress by asserting that he would receive, at minimum, $3 billion for the bank’s privatization, funds that would then be placed in a new Federal Fund for Regional Infrastructure that would finance the building of public works throughout the country — a promise that was never fulfilled, as only $1.2 billion was received and the fund did not build any public works.

Overseeing the privatization, along with Espartaco Rojo, was then-Economy Minister Roque Fernández, a neoliberal “Chicago Boy” who was also a former World Bank and IMF official. Calls were later made to investigate Fernández and Espartaco Rojo and other parties involved in the “highly irregular” privatization of the bank, but went nowhere. One of the key people accused of involvement in illegal activities that led to the bank’s privatization is Daniel Marx, who was chief negotiator of Argentina’s external debt from 1989 to 1993 and is closely linked to the global financial elite through his investment bank, Quantum Finanzas.

After the privatization, Espartaco Rojo stayed on as the bank’s president until 2000. The president of the bank after Espartaco Rojo was Miguel Kiguel who had been undersecretary of finance and chief advisor to the minister of the economy of Argentina under Menem and, most crucially, chief economist at the World Bank at the very time that the World Bank was pressuring Argentina’s government to privatize Banco Hipotecario.

After the bank’s privatization, many of Elsztain’s associates were rewarded with positions on the bank’s board, including Saúl Zang and Ernesto Viñes, as well as Mario Blejer, who is the bank’s vice president. Blejer was a senior adviser to the IMF for decades, as well as a former president of Argentina’s Central Bank. As president of the Central Bank, he attempted to force the dollarization of the Argentine economy during its collapse and debt default, a crisis engineered by Menem and Cavallo’s policies. Blejer is also a long-time associate of Elsztain and a member of IRSA’s board of directors, as well as a former adviser to the Bank of England, and was considered a front-runner to head Israel’s Central Bank in both 2013 and 2018.

Another notable director at the bank was Jacobo Julio Driezzen, former alternate executive director of the IMF, sub-secretary of finances at the Economy Ministry during the lead-up to Argentina’s economic collapse, and executive director of Galicia Capital Markets, a subsidiary of Banco Galicia, one of Argentina’s largest private banks.

As will be shown in an upcoming article in this series, the privatization of Banco Hipotecario was just one of many “irregular” privatizations during the presidency of Carlos Menem. That article will also reveal how Menem’s policies, as well as those of his economy ministers, directly resulted in the economic crisis Argentina faced in the early 2000s, in which the global elite — including controversial figures connected to Eduardo Elsztain, Henry Kissinger, the Rockefellers, and others — sought to use this engineered crisis to pressure Argentina’s government to “swap” their debt for the entirety of Patagonia.

That effort was ultimately unsuccessful. However, a similar collapse is now being engineered under the current presidency of Mauricio Macri — a close ally of Elsztain and Mindlin — with Patagonia again in the crosshairs.

As was noted in Part I of this series, the global elite, and particularly powerful elements of the global Zionist lobby, have long sought to create an independent state out of Patagonia for several reasons, with the goal of dominating its rich natural resources, freshwater and oil among them.

A dizzying flow-chart of tentacles

Elsztain’s acquisition of Banco Hipotecario was just one of the many moves made by him, in partnership with Soros and Mindlin, that have resulted in his multi-billion dollar net worth and the “largest business empire in Argentina.” Yet, as has been shown, none of that would have been possible without Elsztain’s connections to the elite and to Argentina’s government.

Today IRSA, under Elsztain’s reign, has become a true corporate behemoth and the country’s largest real estate company. Its portfolio encompasses nearly all of Argentina’s top shopping centers — including Alto Palmero, Abasto and Patio Bullrich, among others — as well as real estate in high-demand areas throughout Buenos Aires and a slew of rented offices and homes, and luxury hotels and resorts throughout the country

However, IRSA is but a part of Elsztain’s empire, a key component of which is the agricultural commodities company, Cresud, originally founded in 1937. Elsztain began buying Cresud shares in 1992 and then purchased a majority stake in 1994, paying around $25 million for control of the company. After the purchase, Soros put nearly $62 million into the company, which then went public with Soros’ backing on the New York Stock Exchange. IRSA then became owned by Cresud, with Elsztain retaining control of both.

Eduardo Elsztain celebrates the 20th anniversary of IRSA’s listing on the NYSE. Twitter | NYSE

According to a Haaretz profile on Elsztain, “It is not known whether, or to what extent, he leveraged ‏(i.e., borrowed funds at a lower rate of interest than he expected to make‏) − for the purpose of acquiring control in Cresud, in which he has a 38 percent stake.” Today, Cresud — run by Elsztain’s brother Alejandro Elsztain — is one of the country’s top producers of beef and grain and dominates Argentine agribusiness organizations.

After his acquisition of Cresud — with the help of Soros and Mindlin — Elsztain “became only more aggressive in his pursuit of both urban and rural properties” after the Mexican economic crisis in 1994 and 1995, which “paid off,” according to the New York Times. As was noted in Part I of this series, that economic crisis in Mexico — the effects of which spread throughout Latin America, including Argentina — was partly due to the currency speculation conducted by another Soros associate — British billionaire Joe Lewis, who had “broken the Bank of England” with Soros just a few years prior using similar tactics — spurring the crisis from which Elsztain benefited via Cresud and IRSA. Lewis is the co-owner of Argentina’s largest private electricity company, Pampa Energía, with the other co-owner being long-time Elsztain associate Marcelo Mindlin.

Cresud is believed to be one of the largest, if not the largest, landowners in Argentina, possessing an estimated 2.5 million acres, in addition to even more farmland that it leases. It has been the driving force behind the destruction of family farms in Argentina; the mass planting of GMO soybeans; and the introduction of corn-fed beef feedlots, undermining Argentina’s long-standing reputation of providing high quality, grass-fed beef. Tellingly, the New York Times praised Cresud, under Elsztain’s management, for “smashing the nation’s quaint tradition of inefficient, underfinanced family farms and ranches.” Many of Cresud’s land holdings can be found in Argentina’s Patagonia.

Aside from Cresud’s and IRSA’s sizeable land holdings and business interests in Patagonia, Elsztain owns an estimated 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) near San Carlos de Bariloche while Mindlin owns around 40,000 hectares (98,800 acres) just a few miles away from the similarly large property of Joe Lewis, whose “parallel state” in this area of Patagonia was the subject of Part I of this series.

Cresud’s control over land and agribusiness extends far beyond Argentina and into other South American nations such as Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia through BrasilAgro, in which Cresud bought a controlling stake. Cresud also holds a major stake in the Elsztain-controlled bank, Banco Hipotecario, as well as another massive Argentine real estate company, APSA.

The spectacular growth of Elsztain’s business empire led the New York Times to write that his “fortunes are increasingly intertwined with the fortunes of [the] nation.” At the time, Soros held “about one-quarter of the shares of both companies [IRSA and Cresud],” according to the Times, though Elsztain eventually severed his business ties with Soros in 2000 and took complete control of the now-massive business empire.

Yet, this empire of Elsztain’s had been built with much more than help from Soros. Indeed, other key shareholders of IRSA who helped finance the acquisition of Cresud, BrasilAgro and other key holdings of Elsztain’s were three North American billionaires all known for their Zionist activism: Sam Zell, American real estate magnate; Michael Steinhardt, legendary hedge fund manager and chairman of Genie Energy’s Strategic Advisory Board; and Edgar Bronfman, whose fortune was made by the Seagram distilleries and Universal Studios, among others. Bronfman — former president of the World Jewish Congress, who was known for his closeness to the Clintons — had known Elsztain long before, as the two had previously met in Israel.

In addition to the help provided by powerful billionaires, the growth of Elsztain’s empire was notably aided by the government of Argentina on my occasions, not only during Menem’s presidency but also under the presidencies of Nestor Kirchner, his wife and successor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and — more recently — Mauricio Marci.

One clear example of this government-furnished aid is the fact that Argentina’s Social Security Administration (ANSES), which funds the majority of Argentina’s recently gutted social programs, is heavily invested in and has been used to buy shares of a raft of Elsztain and Mindlin-owned companies, including IRSA, Cresud, Alto Palmero SA, Pampa Energia, Edenor and Petrobras Argentina. In at least two cases, ANSES has been used by both Elsztain and Mindlin to fraudulently acquire companies and expand their business empires.

Elsztain and Israel

In 2012, Elsztain made a gamble to begin building a new business empire, not in Argentina but in Israel. His leap into Israel’s market took many by surprise, not for his decision to invest in the country, but where and with whom he had decided to invest. That September, news broke that Elsztain had offered embattled Israeli businessman Nochi Dankner $25 million to keep the latter’s sprawling business empire — IDB, Israel’s largest holding company — afloat. Not only that, but he promised to infuse an additional $75 million in the near future, to the shock of Israel’s financial sector and even IDB shareholders, who had increasingly lost faith in Dankner.

Elsztain’s reasons for investing so heavily and seemingly out of nowhere to prop up a controversial Israeli tycoon and prop up IDB led to considerable speculation in Israeli media. Notably, Haaretz asserted that it was likely linked to Elsztain’s long-standing “Zionist activism” as well as a “religious-spiritual element” stemming from his closeness to the New York-based Chabad movement. Indeed, Elsztain had been introduced to Dankner by Chabad Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, whose father-in-law, Shlomo Ben Hamo, is the chief rabbi of Argentina. Pinto has been an important figure in past investments of Elsztain and his role — as well as those of other Chabad rabbis in Elsztain’s business activities, including the unscrupulous — will be discussed in a subsequent article in this series.

Haaretz further noted that the $25 million gamble would likely cause controversy in Elsztain’s home country of Argentina given that the money originated from Elsztain’s IRSA, in which ANSES is heavily invested. Thus, the Israeli paper stated:

Elsztain is taking the money that Argentine … workers have invested in his companies for their future retirement for his own speculative investment, the object of which is to salvage Dankner’s control of the IDB group.”

Elsztain’s promise of investing $75 million more in Dankner’s Ganden Holdings, through which he owned IDB, had fallen flat by July 2013, a decision Elsztain had made just a matter of days after becoming IDB’s deputy chairman. Though Elsztain backtracked on his plans to help Dankner maintain his hold on the company, Elsztain had no plans to abandon his ultimate goal of influence over IDB’s business empire and joined forces with a relatively unknown Israeli businessman, Moti Ben-Moshe.

By the end of the year, and with help from the Israeli court system, Elsztain and Ben-Moshe had wrested control of the massive holding company from Dankner and become its new owners. Then, just two years later, Elsztain ousted Ben-Moshe and became the sole controlling shareholder of the megacompany. Elsztain’s total investment in IDB through IRSA and IRSA affiliates is now believed to surpass $420 million.

Eduardo Elsztain speaks at an IDB event in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 23, 2017. Photo | Shai Shachar

IDB is one of Israel’s largest companies and among its holdings are Israel’s largest chain of supermarkets, Shufersal (sometimes written as Super-sol); the cornerstone of the Israeli tech industry and parent company of Elbit weapon systems, Elron Electronics; Israel’s fourth largest airline, Israir; Israeli kosher dairy giant Mehadrin; and one of Israel’s largest internet providers, CellCom; among others.

Soon after Elsztain acquired control over IDB, prominent Elsztain allies took top positions at IDB subsidiaries. For instance, Matthew Bronfman — who is in business with the Rothschilds and is the son of Elsztain ally and associate Edgar Bronfman — became a top shareholder in Shufersal, while Saúl Zang — Elsztain’s longtime lawyer and an IRSA executive — became vice chairman of Elron Electronics. Elsztain’s sister Diana, who has long lived in Israel, was also placed on IDB’s board. Another person placed on the IDB board by Elsztain is Giora Inbar, who used to chair TAT technologies, an Israeli company with U.S. subsidiaries whose clients include Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army. In addition, Benjamin Gantz — presidential candidate in upcoming Israeli elections and former IDF chief of staff during the 2014 war with Gaza, was on the board of directors of Elron Electronics, whose chairman is Elsztain, until just this past week.

Aside from IDB, Elsztain has also — through a separate company, Dolphin Netherlands BV — increased his holdings in several other Israeli companies. These include Nova Measuring Instruments — which focuses on artificial intelligence, big data and is a key company in global circuit manufacturing — as well as Paz Oil, Israel’s largest oil and gas company. Another Israeli company in which Elsztain has sizable holdings is Magic Software, which now plays a key role in Argentine elections and will be treated in detail in a subsequent section of this article.

Though his massive Israel-based business empire is beginning to rival his Argentine empire in size and influence, Elsztain has shown in recent years that he desires to continue expanding his business interests in the Zionist state. Last January, news broke that Elsztain sought to acquire Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications company, after its owner Eurocom, controlled by Israeli businessman Shaul Elovitch, was “pressured” to give up the company by some of Israel’s largest banks, including Israel Discount Bank. Notably, the controlling stake of Israeli Discount Bank is owned by Matthew Bronfman, who is also a main stakeholder in IDB company Shufersal and whose father was a close associate of Elsztain in IRSA and at the World Jewish Congress, where Matthew Bronfman has also held prominent roles.

Despite his friends in high places, Elsztain has encountered difficulty after difficulty in his efforts to acquire Bezeq as a result of Israel’s anti-centralization laws — laws that ironically had helped him take control of IDB from its previous owner. Elsztain has tried to sell off IDB’s CellCom subsidiary — Bezeq’s main rival — in order to acquire Bezeq, but without success. He has since turned his efforts to buying Eurocom’s subsidiaries piece by piece, starting with Spacecom, an Israeli satellite operator. It remains to be seen if Bezeq’s recent financial difficulties have given Elsztain cold feet or are part of a behind-the-scenes effort to weaken and then acquire the company. Given his history, both are equally plausible.

Elsztain’s ties to and influence in Israel will become increasingly important in subsequent installments of this series, as Israel’s government, as well as prominent elements of the Zionist lobby to which Elsztain is connected, have been and are involved in past and current efforts to force Argentina’s governments to relinquish Patagonia.

Elsztain representing Rockefeller, Rothschild interests in Argentina

As Argentine newspaper La Nación noted in 2005:

[Elsztain is] the Argentine businessman with the greatest [international] contacts in the business world … and, like no other Argentine, has a direct channel to many of the world’s wealthiest men, who in many cases become his [Elsztain’s] partner in local projects.”

Indeed, Elsztain and his associates are often the avenue through which international oligarchs insert themselves into Argentina’s economy and politics, first for Soros and now for much more powerful figures.

The Council of the Americas (COA) was originally founded in 1963 by David Rockefeller as the Business Group for Latin America, which two years later became known as the Council for Latin America and then the Center for Inter-American Relations before undergoing a final name change. From its founding to its current state, the COA has been the voice of the multinational corporations (and the oligarchs behind them) that represent the vast majority of U.S.-based private investment in Latin America. The organization is often described as the Latin American equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which was chaired by David Rockefeller for several decades and has long been heavily funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. David Rockefeller founded the COA while serving as CFR chairman.

Rockefeller was the COA chairman from 1981 to 1992 and was honorary chairman until his death in 2017. The vast majority of the directors on COA’s board are executives of Latin American operations of major European and U.S. multinational corporations such as Shell Oil, JP Morgan, PepsiCo, Chevron, Boeing, Citigroup and Microsoft. One of the group’s chairmen after Rockefeller was John Negroponte, who was involved in the Reagan era cover-up of U.S. support for Latin American death squads and was deeply involved in the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was the “brainchild” of COA. Negroponte also served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq and later deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush and was the first Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Negroponte is currently COA chairman emeritus and on its board of directors.

The current COA chairman is Andrés Gulski, a former IMF official and Santander bank executive who is currently CEO and President of AES power company, which — alongside Mindlin and Lewis’ Pampa Energia — is one of the top electricity producers in Argentina. Gulski also served in Venezuela’s ministry of finance in the U.S.-backed, pre-Chávez government and more recently was on Barack Obama’s Export Council. COA’s current president and CEO is Susan Segal, a former JP Morgan executive who “was actively involved in the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s, sitting on many Advisory Committees as well as serving as chairperson for the Chilean and Philippine Advisory Committees” while the former country was ruled by a brutal, U.S.-backed military dictatorship. She also received an award from Colombia’s then-President Alvaro Uribe, who once led Colombia’s right-wing narco-death squads.

While COA has long been formed and funded by Western multinational corporations, among the handful of Latin American-based companies that are both “elite” members and sponsors of the organization are IRSA and Pampa Energia. Other prominent COA sponsors include Citigroup, JP Morgan, and Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Elsztain and Mindlin are also both members of COA and are regular speakers at the annual Argentina Investment Conference that COA jointly hosts with Blackrock, the world’s largest investment management corporation. Mindlin and Elsztain also serve on COA’s International Advisory Council.

In addition to COA, Elsztain is a regular attendee of the World Economic Forum (WEF or “Davos”), as is Marcelo Mindlin. Elsztain is also a member of the Group of 50 (G50), which describes itself as “a select group of business leaders who head some of the most significant and forward-looking enterprises in Latin America.”

Eduardo Elsztain, left, with Argentine President Mauricio Macri on the sidelines of the 2016 Davos summit. Photo | Twitter

Membership is by invitation only. The G50 was founded in 1993 by Moses Naím, former director of Venezuela’s Central Bank and Venezuela’s minister of trade and industry in the 1990s, as well as former executive director of the World Bank. Naím, who still chairs G50, is also on the board of directors of Soros’ Open Society Foundations. G50 was originally founded with funding from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which itself is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Open Society Foundations, and the U.S. and U.K. governments, among others. Naím is also on the board of directors of AES, whose president and CEO is also current COA Chairman Andrés Gulski.

While Elsztain and Mindlin are both well-connected to both George Soros and the Rockefeller-founded Council of Americas, Elsztain, for his part, shares ties with other well-known families of oligarchs: the Rothschilds and the Bronfmans. Elsztain’s close ties with the Bronfmans and the Rothschilds have largely manifested through his prominent positions at the global Zionist lobby organization, the World Jewish Congress (WJC), whose long-time president from 1981 to 2007 was Edgar Bronfman, the Seagram billionaire who was also a close friend of Elsztain and himself a key shareholder in Elsztain’s IRSA. Elsztain served previously as treasurer and chairman and is currently a vice president of the WJC and chair of the WJC business council. The WJC is currently chaired by David de Rothschild.

In addition to his connections to the Bronfmans through IRSA and WJC, Elsztain also serves on the board of Endeavor Argentina — the Argentine branch of Endeavor Global, whose chairman is Edgar Bronfman Jr.

The role of the Rothschilds, Bronfmans and WJC in the events currently unfolding in Argentina — as well as the roles of other pertinent elements of the global Zionist lobby — will be explored in detail in a subsequent installment of this series. However, it is worth pointing out that the fortunes of the Rothschilds have become increasingly intertwined with those of the Rockefellers — particularly after RIT Capital Partners bought 37 percent of Rockefeller Financial Services in 2012 — as well as those of the Bronfmans, after the 2013 creation of Bronfman E.M. Rothschild E.L. LLC.

As these powerful oligarch dynasties move closer together, the links between these families and Elsztain should be cause for concern, in light of his role and the roles of his associates in bringing economic upheaval to Argentina and then directly profiting from that upheaval. Indeed, as investigative journalist and researcher Vanessa Beeley told MintPress, Elsztain’s — as well as Mindlin’s — connections to these groups and clans of oligarchs betrays their role as the Argentine faces of these powerful individuals who seek to claim and exploit Argentina’s resources:

Elsztain and Mindlin’s close connections to a merging network of some of the most powerful globalists in the world today suggest their role to be one of sniffing out the opportunities and laying the groundwork for hostile take-over of resources and infrastructure by these elite scavengers who prey upon target nations, protected from view by the likes of Elsztain and Mindlin, who are little more than mafia outreach agents.”

Getting their hooks into the voting machines

As the influence of Elsztain, Mindlin and their associates has expanded in Argentina as well as in Israel, this small, close-knit group of powerful billionaires has now set its sights on consolidating political power in Argentina for themselves and their even more powerful backers. Though the presidency of Macri has seen their influence grow in new and troubling ways, new evidence shows that Elsztain, with the backing of the Rothschild banking family, has set his sights on Argentina’s voting system.

For the past few years, Macri’s government has been heavily promoting the need for electronic voting systems in Argentina, which it argues are needed to modernize the country’s current paper-ballot system. However — as has been seen in other countries, including the U.S., where such systems have been implemented — the results of elections run on electronic voting systems can be easily manipulated and such manipulations are effectively impossible to detect.

Election forensics specialist Jonathan Simon, author of CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy, had this to say about the vulnerability of such voting systems to interference:

They’re often rushed into use with great promises of speed, convenience, and accuracy, but these fully computerized voting systems — particularly those that provide no paper record of votes cast — have turned out to be problematic, to say the least, everywhere they have turned up, including the U.S. and several European countries. In fact the trend now is to ditch them in favor of return to paper-based systems. Ireland literally turned its voting computers into landfill; Norway, Germany, The Netherlands, and gradually the U.S. have all taken them out of service.

The reason is simple: as computers, this voting equipment is vulnerable not only to outsider hacking but to insider manipulation. It is trivial to program them to add, subtract, switch votes — and this is true whether or not they are hooked up to the internet. The worst part is that there is absolutely no way of verifying or validating the election results spit out by this equipment. All the hardware and software has been ruled ‘proprietary’ — corporate property, and off-limits to inspection by anyone, including governments.”

Simon also told MintPress that electronic voting machines, in contrast to making the voting system more “transparent” as Macri has claimed, instead can be used by politicians who wish to remain in power but unaccountable for their actions while in office:

If I wanted to take over a country — stay in power despite doing things that would surely get me voted out — I could stage a coup and roll tanks down the streets of the capital. Or I could install an electronic voting system — as Macri is trying to do in Argentina and as the right wing managed to do in 2002 in the U.S. — and achieve the same result without firing a shot, without provoking outrage or resistance, and without altering people’s perception that they lived in a democracy.

When you see politicians and powerful figures in a nation pushing such concealed and unverifiable systems for vote counting, the first thing you want to do is look past the marketing campaign — the talk of ‘transparency,’ which is nonsense, speed, convenience, etc. — and ask one very simple question: ‘Why?’”

Concerns about manipulation only increase when the manufacturers and programmers of those voting systems have troubling connections to oligarchs or foreign governments. Unfortunately for Argentina, the electronic voting machines being promoted by Macri have many such troubling connections.

Since his 2015 presidential campaign, Macri has pushed for the implementation of electronic voting nationwide, calling it necessary for creating “a more transparent voting system.” By 2017, Macri’s “comprehensive” voting reform legislation, which called for electronic voting nationwide, was passed by Argentina’s Congress — only to remain essentially frozen in its implementation, as holdovers from the previous administration in the government’s bureaucracy have worked to block the nationwide shift to digitized voting. Notably, a recent poll conducted in Argentina found that 60% of respondents would never consider voting for Macri in future elections.

Though the voting systems were not implemented nationwide, they are already being used in many areas of Argentina, including the city of Buenos Aires (population 2.89 million) and the provinces of Salta (1.2 million), Córdoba (3.3 million), Chaco (1 million), Tucumán (1.4 million), Santa Fe (3.2 million), and the Patagonian province of Neuquén (0.5 million). As a consequence, despite the lack of a nationwide system, more than 25 percent of Argentina’s population already votes using electronic machines, all of which are incidentally manufactured by a single company, Magic Software Argentina (MSA).

Concerns over MSA were voiced early-on in Argentine media, such as a report published in Letra P that noted that MSA had developed a close relationship with members of Macri’s inner circle and his political party in prior years, suggesting a conflict of interest. In addition, just last week, a man attempting to use an electronic voting machine in the Nequén province filmed how the MSA-made voting machine printed out a result that was entirely different from the one he had chosen, prompting him to ask to vote again for his chosen candidate, a request that was initially denied. After the incident, several machines were found to be working improperly.

Though such reports are troubling, they barely scratch the surface of MSA and the more likely and troubling reasons why this company was given control over the democratic processes in many Argentine provinces and, if Macri gets his way, the entire country.

Magic Software Argentina was created in 1995 by Sergio Osvaldo Orlando Angelini and Alejandro Poznansky and, as noted by the Argentine outlet El Disenso, specializes in “importing, adapting and commercializing informatic systems in Argentina as well as representing and being the national face of foreign business like Magic Software Enterprises,” MSA’s parent company.

Magic Software Enterprises (MSE) was originally known as Mashov Software Export and is an Israeli software company headquartered in Or Yehuda. In 1991, the company changed its name and became the first Israeli software company to be listed on the Nasdaq. MSE has long had a close relationship with Israel’s military, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which was reaffirmed in 2010 when MSE was tasked with upgrading software systems for the IDF and Israel’s military police.

El Disenso noted in 2017 that MSE, as a result of having its headquarters in Israel as well as a branch in the United States, “is subject to the jurisdiction of Israel as well as North American [i.e., U.S.] courts… both countries impose strict security protocols that permit their national government[s] practically unlimited access to [company] information.”

While concerns about undue influence or meddling by either the U.S. and/or Israel are valid, an examination of the power behind MSA and its parent company MSE reveals something much more troubling, as well as just how influential Eduardo Elsztain has become.

MSE’s largest shareholders are IDB Development Corp Ltd and Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings Ltd., and smaller shareholders include the Rothschild banking family through the firm Edmond de Rothschild Holdings. As previously mentioned, IDB Development Corp was acquired by Eduardo Elsztain in 2015. In addition, a majority stake in Clal Insurance Enterprises — MSE’s second largest shareholder — is owned by Dolphin Netherlands B.V., which incidentally is a subsidiary of IRSA, and Elsztain is chairman of its board. In other words, the most powerful and influential shareholder in both Magic Software Enterprises, and its Argentine subsidiary Magic Software Argentina, is none other than Eduardo Elsztain.

Devouring Argentina: a capitalist feast in many courses

In summary, through political connections, corruption and white-collar crime, this network of billionaires — the most visible of whom is Eduardo Elsztain — has essentially taken control of not only the bulk of Argentina’s resources — its electricity, its land, its agriculture, its water, its financial system — but also its voting system.

Yet, far from being purely an effort of powerful Argentine billionaires like Elsztain and Mindlin, control over Argentina’s economy, government, industry and land has long been a goal of powerful oligarchs dating back at least 70 years. Those very figures successfully engineered Argentina’s economic collapse in the early 2000s and then — through intermediaries close to Henry Kissinger, the IMF and the world’s largest banks — greatly pressured its government to relinquish Patagonia in exchange for “debt relief” from the economic chaos they had created.

The next installment of this investigative series will focus on Marcelo Mindlin and the interests of the Mindlin-Elsztain network in oil and gas in Argentina’s Patagonia, as well as in the contested Falkland Islands.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment