The violent death of a former secretary of Argentine ex-president and currently vice president, Cristina Kirchner, in El Calafate, Santa Cruz province triggered a strong clash between the Argentine government and congressional opposition since there was speculation that Fabian Gutierrez, 48, a potential whistleblower in several corruption cases, had met his destiny to the hands of an alleged Kirchner conspiration.
Opposition said the murder was of the most institutional gravity while president Alberto Fernandez called his political rivals pitiable and scoundrels. Meanwhile the lady kept a deafening silence, despite the fact that Gutierrez was personal secretary of the First Lady between 2003/07 and deputy secretary of the president 2007/10. However given his gay condition and ill-treatment from the presidential entourage, Gutierrez finally decided to step down.
However it was surprising he managed to build himself an outstanding residence in El Calafate, which since the inauguration of an international airport under president Carlos Menem and Santa Cruz governor Nestor Kirchner in the nineties, became a top line winter resort in Patagonia with restaurants, boulangeries, boutiques and deli shops for the rich and famous. Gutierrez also had a passion for vintage cars plus several businesses, including real estate, and was recognized as a successful entrepreneur and caring member of the community, Anyhow despite his generosity, his display of money, as with so many of the Kirchner couple close collaborators remained a big question mark. He was of a very humble background, but both his father and mother were early militants and followers of the Kirchner couple.
But in 2018, Gutierrez volunteered to witness in the so called note books case, which unveiled the corruption scheme set up by Nestor Kirchner, and followed by his wife Cristina, consisting of skimming public works awarded and renting out empty posh hotels belonging to the family. A meticulous driver from the presidential entourage wrote down contacts, payments, deliveries, addresses, dates and names of all those involved. The money collected in bags and suitcases was then flown to the camouflaged vaults in the home of the Kirchners in Rio Gallegos.
The major corruption scheme knocked out most of the leading public works contractors in Argentina, and the majority were ready to confess about their roles as part of a new criminal code in Argentina which privileged giving evidence in exchange for lesser sentences. Cristina Fernandez and family collected several corruption cases, but the parsimony of the Argentine judicial system played to her advantage, and finally when she came out with the Alberto Fernandez/Cristina Fernandez winning ticket proposal, she obtained legislative protection.
But since Gutierrez was a witness of one of the cases, many in Argentina believed he had been targeted and silenced, as appealing to violence and extortion is not a practice absent in Argentine politics. But apparently according to the latest police reports, the former secretary was kidnapped, tortured, beaten, stabbed and finally killed, with four young men, 19 to 26, involved, one of them allegedly also had a close relation with the deceased. The motive money and bank accounts.
This helps to explain the opposition's concerns and accusations, particularly since during the long quarantine pandemic the Legislative and Judiciary in Argentina have been frozen, and only after one hundred days are gradually beginning to be back in business.
To make things even more concerning, Santa Cruz province is the political turf of the Kichner family. The sister of ex president Nestor, Alicia, is currently governor, and her daughter Natalia Mercado the prosecutor of the Gutierrez case. Furthermore one of the four suspects, and close friend of the deceased is the son of the notary, who in the nineties, before the boom of El Calafate as an international resort, certified the sale of much of provincial land in the city at dirt bottom prices to the Kirchner family and close collaborators, among which Natalia Mercado and even Gutiérrez.
Thus the opposition wants the case to be taken over by federal justice, away from the grip of the Kirchner family. Obviously this does not mean any involvement of the ex president, not that she does not have the intelligence to plot it but certainly it would backfire as it is happening.
Cristina Fernandez is betting of the Judicial branch reform which will enable her and the majority in Congress to name a new Supreme Court, of her liking, and over half of the federal magistrates benches which remain vacant. Anyhow this does not impede her form nodding to radical followers to hack, put pressure and scare the independent media, as is happening...
Cristina Fernandez remains the undisputed queen of the Argentina political stage, and understandably the Gutierrez family are asking media not to blame Cristina for the incident.