On Its Independence Day, Argentina Slams Vultures: We Will Not Be Blackmailed!

Yesterday, the 198th anniversary of Argentina’s July 9, 1816 founding as an independent nation at the Congress of Tucuman, the office of the President issued another full-page ad in The Washington Post, under a banner headline (in all caps) “Vulture Funds: Facts show that it is no myth that they are vultures.”

The ad is a response to one published on July 8 in the Post by billionaire Paul Singer’s vulture fund lobby, American Task Force Argentina (ATFA), under the headline “The Facts of Argentina’s Debt Dispute,” which characterized as “myth” every single government argument regarding its restructuring and the vulture funds’ extortion and blackmail.

Asserting that the vulture funds “publicly insult and threaten Argentina,” yesterday’s hard-hitting ad charges that the vultures’ goal is to “blackmail the country in order to win over U.S. public opinion to make a profit of over 1,600% at the expense of the wellbeing of the Argentine people.” Noting that the vultures finance ATFA, the ad points out they “have also dedicated recent years to fund the campaigns of U.S. politicians.” Debunking each of ATFA’s lies, the ad concludes that Argentina will not submit to blackmail, but will instead defend “its successful sovereign debt restructuring process that enabled the country to experience the longest period of growth and social inclusion in history.”

At the government’s official Independence Day celebration in Tucuman, several Ibero-American ambassadors and consuls have gathered in support of Argentina, with several observing that just as Ibero-American Liberators fought against Spain, today all of the nations of the continent must join together to defeat the vultures which are assaulting all of them.

A particular affront to the country on this day of national celebration, is the arrival of two executives of Singer’s ATFA hit squad, Robert Shapiro and Nancy Soderberg. No one from the government will meet with them, so they plan to meet with unnamed “opinion makers,” to “gather information” on the economy. Shapiro, in particular, is a real piece of work; he has been the most visible face of ATFA in recent years, carrying out a vitriolic campaign against both Kirchner presidents, even portraying Cristina Fernandez as an anti-American terrorist, for negotiating with Iran in an attempt to clarify the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish social center in Buenos Aires, in which Iranian officials were implicated.

Shapiro also makes the absurd claim that ATFA represents “ordinary people” and small investors victimized by Argentina. As Finance Minister Axel Kiciloff wrote in a letter to the Financial Times yesterday, “vultures aren’t victims, only extortionists,” going on to point out that Paul Singer’s NML Ltd. relocated to the Cayman Islands to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

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