Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Reuters/Marcos Brindicci)
Argentina’s economy may be stagnating, with the peso in freefall, however President Cristina Kirchner believes she faces an even bigger problem. Relations with the US have hit rock bottom and she says Washington may even want to get rid of her.
Kirchner has been locked in a war of words with the United States concerning the restructuring of the country’s debt payments, following Argentina’s record $100 billion default in 2001.
“If something was to happen to me, nobody should be looking to the east, but to the north after the things that are being done in diplomatic offices,”President Kirchner said in a speech, broadcast on national television on Tuesday, according to AP.
She said earlier that she had received threats from the Islamic State over her close ties to Pope Francis.
Argentina’s economy recently defaulted for the second time in 13 years in July and Kirchner has been quick to hit out at so-called ‘vulture funds’ – investors who reject the country’s plans to reorganize its debt. At the recent UN General Assembly, she alluded that this was, “almost a type of economic and financial terrorism,” adding that they are “economic terrorists that create poverty, hunger and misery through the sin of speculation.”
She has been at loggerheads with US District Judge Thomas Griesa since the summer. At the end of June, he blocked an Argentinian payment, which would have given $539 million to bondholders. The judge banned it from servicing its restructured debt until a small group of US hedge funds had been paid in full.
These creditors are demanding the payment of around $1.6 billion and he again ruled in their favor, holding Argentina in contempt of court on Monday. This led to a fiery response from the president.
“All of this is not casual, and it comes from a senile judge,” Kirchner said in a speech at the Presidential Palace, known as the ‘Pink House’.“Perhaps they will arrest me next time I go to New York, but let me be clear, I’m going to go anyway,”she added, as reported by Reuters.
In defiance of the US Judge’s ruling, Argentina deposited a $161 million interest payment, according to the Economy Ministry. Rather than paying the hedge funds as Griesa had instructed, this money was intended for other local creditors, as the country continues to look to restructure its debt.
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