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Argentina’s Kirchner dismisses Justice Minister amid spy scandal

Dismissed Minister claimed intelligence services are out of control.
A week before a crowd had stormed Buenos Aires City Legislature in a dark episode that could involve former agents.

In the first cabinet change since coming to power 14 months ago, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner dismissed Justice and Security Minister Gustavo Beliz amid a scandal that involved national intelligence services, controlled by one of Kirchner’s closer collaborators.

Mr. Beliz, of conservative background in a center-left administration, had to left his post only a few hours after blaming the Intelligence Department (or SIDE) of trying to remove him.

The accusation is thought to have infuriated Mr Kirchner, who hand-picked Side's directors. Following his forced resignation, Mr Beliz said his removal from power was "the result of speaking out the truth: I took on the shadiest organisation in Argentina, which is the Side".

Beliz was angry with Side officials since last Friday, when a crowd of street vendors, prostitutes and unemployees stormed Buenos Aires City Legislature, inflicting serious damage to the hystorical building. The former minister said the SIDE did not report accurately on what was going to happen, leving the Justice and Security Ministry without proper information to act.

Another version, confirmed to PRAVDA.Ru by a source with good connections to the national administration, says that the attack to the building had been plotted by the “right wing opposition to President Kirchner”, which holds the majority in Buenos Aires’ Legislature. PRAVDA.Ru source pointed out to Mr. Mauricio Macri, leader of a right wing political party and current president of Boca Juniors, Argentina’s most popular football club. Macri, son of a millonaire businessman, has been claiming that security is one of the most challenging areas of the government's domestic policy.

Macri, part of the local media, and another conservative forces, including the Catholic Church and the Army insist with government's apparent inability to deal with the  security problem, as fuel draconian meassures to crackdown protests of unemployed groups and other social movements. Hardliners blame leftist piqueteros for the incidents in the Legislature as hold them responsible for scaring foreign investors with their methods of protest.

The piqueteros frequently cause mayhem in Buenos Aires by blocking main access routes in and around the centre. However, as the social expresion of the economic slump of Argentina in 2001 after over a decade of neo-conservative pro-market reforms, is not serious to acusse them of all Argentine calamities.

The right-wing campaign against piqueteros has reached paranoiac expresions, as the last editorial from the Wall Street Journal that says these groups “are the new terrorism in Argentina”. Despite obvious insanity of Wall Street Journal’s editorialists –piqueteros have not killed, not even injured a single person in ten years of protests; moreover, not less than ten of them have been killed by Argentine security forces- the piqueteros are a good excuse to attack a national administration that is not ready to make concessions to local and international monopolies and financial markets.

Mr. Beliz will be replaced by Horacio Rosatti, a respected legal expert and a close personal friend of the president. Despite the change, Kirchner does not look ready to change his soft hand to the groups of unemployed protesters clamouring for more welfare, conservative forces demand.

Hernan Etchaleco

Photo: Argentine President, Nestor Kirchner