Franco Macri's dealings with the former Kirchnerite governments amount to a crime, Argentine president Mauricio Macri declared on Sunday in a wide-ranging primetime interview that touched on corruption, influence peddling, the October elections, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's legal situation and his recently deceased father, Franco.
My father committed a crime, he was part of a system of extortion involving the Kirchnerite movement in which in order to work, you had to pay up, Macri told journalist Luis Majul during a pre-recorded television interview.
Prior to his recent passing, Franco Macri had been tied up in the so-called notebooks corruption scandal, along with President Macri's brother and cousin.
With the October general and presidential elections already dominating the news cycle in Argentina, the wide-ranging interview covered a number of contentious topics.
On Florencia Kirchner's legal situation, Macri said the blame was on squarely on her mother, former president and senator for Buenos Aires province Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Fernández de Kirchner is currently visiting Florencia in Cuba where the film-maker is receiving medical treatment for lymphedema. The former president last week blamed media and judicial persecution for Florencia's health problems.
”She (Cristina Fernandez) did not take care of her children and she involved them in the things she was doing (alleged corruption). She is responsible for her daughter being indicted... I don't think it's right for a person to deny reality, Macri charged.
Florencia Kirchner has been charged in several of her family's corruption cases, but mother Cristina Fernandez and brother Maximo Kirchner as elected members of Congress, have legislative immunity. She doesn't and is believed to be very anxious and stressed about the matter. Furthermore, some US$ 5 million were found to her name stashed in a bank. She was then 18, and had no excuse to justify the funds allegedly deposited to her name by he family.
The Argentine president also touched on the unfolding scandal in Argentina's Judiciary, where a criminal investigation is looking into allegations and evidence of widespread influence peddling among judicial workers, politicians, business people and journalists.
Macri stood by his coalition's decision to pursue disciplinary action in the country's Magistrate's Council against lead judge Alejo Ramos Padilla. Ramos Padilla is not a judge who acts with equanimity, he lent himself to a political and media circus [during last week's presentation in Congress], the president said. I hope the Council assesses all evidence to determine whether or not he should be dismissed.
One major headache for the government in the lead up to the election will be the rising cost of living. Macri defended the ongoing roll-back of Kirchner-era subsidies on utilities and public transport.
Rates have risen, from 1 to 7 because what we were paying was ridiculous. We should not look at the rates. We have seen people who previously had no access to gas, now have access to it, he said. Inflation will be less this year than last year, Macri added.
The president took responsibility for the country's underperforming economy. I know a lot of people are struggling to make it to the end of the month. I know what started happening in Argentina last March,” he clarified.