Argentina and Venezuela seem on collision course as a direct consequence of the suitcase scandal involving almost 800.000 US dollars which were to be introduced to Buenos Aires in still undisclosed circumstances by Venezuelan officials traveling in an aircraft officially chartered by Argentina's Energy company, Enarsa.
Argentina's president Nestor Kirchner is asking for heads to roll on the Venezuelan side, (the country's oil corporation PDVSA) as he did with at least one of his most trusted aides in Enarsa, but the latest news from Caracas in that the Hugo Chavez administration believes "criminal responsibilities" in the incident are personal and not sovereign. "Venezuela announced last Saturday through a release from PDVSA its willingness to collaborate with the judicial investigation and announced an administrative inquiry into events", said Interior minister Pedro Carreño. Apparently Carreño was quoted by the Venezuelan press asking for "patience" since it has yet to be established "if the suitcase effectively left from Venezuela because if not, no crime has been committed (by Venezuelan government dependent staff)". The private jet chartered by Enarsa returned to Buenos Aires apparently from Caracas, where it had flown for the final touches to several energy agreements to be signed by President Chavez during his visit to Argentina the following Tuesday. Three Enarsa staff flew to Venezuela but on the return trip staff from PDVSA plus the son of PDVSA CEO in Argentina and a Venezuelan businessman friend Guido Antonini Wilson joined the trip. Antonini Wilson was caught early morning Saturday August 4 by Argentina customs with the 790.550 US dollars in 50 dollars bills in the suitcase he tried to introduce illegally. What baffled everybody is that the Venezuelan businessman left the airport undisturbed after the money was confiscated. "If the suitcase was confiscated on Saturday why did they wait until Tuesday to make the official statement which was when President Chavez visit to Argentina begun", added Carreño. The Venezuelan minister of Interior went on to criticize the media for the coverage of the incident which he added could be easily linked to the "empire's (US) objective of trying to tarnish and question President Chavez foreign policy". However in Venezuela a prosecutor has taken up the case since nobody can leave the country with more than 4.000 US dollars. Antonini Wilson on the following day (Sunday) took a plane to Montevideo and from there to Miami where he has several properties and companies. According to Caracas press reports he spends half his time in Venezuela and the other half in Miami, when not traveling. The incident is a severe blow for President Kirchner's wife Senator Cristina Fernandez aspirations who is running to succeed her husband in next October 28 presidential election. The suitcase scandal emerges in the midst of several other allegedly corruption cases involving three women ministers of the Kirchner administration cabinet (Economy, Defence and Environment) plus the ever present suspicions about Planning Minister De Vido, possibly the president's closest aide and who manages virtually all energy projects and public works investments.