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Massa: The Eye of the Tiger
A short background overview for the ruling party's candidate and current Minister of Economy Sergio Massa
Welcome Avatar! Normally I don’t follow elections that closely anywhere, but not following Argentine elections means you’re missing out on good stories. Every election cycle provides the opportunity of digging up some corpses left and right, and the 2023 elections in Argentina are no exception to that rule. So let’s dig in and start with some exhumations in this article.
Sergio Massa: from Tiger King to Super Minister
Sergio Massa is just 51 years old, and is the son of Alfonso Massa and Lucia Cherti, both first immigration Italian immigrants from Niscemi, Sicily. In a way, you could say Sergio is living up to the Argentine dream I wrote about in the Aristotle Onassis story, albeit on a smaller scale (for now).
He started in politics in his early twenties as a liberal (lol) and quickly moved up the ranks. At the start of the 2000s he made it to director of the Administration of Social Security (Anses), right before the riots of the 2001 crash.
However in 2007, he was elected mayor of Tigre, and this is the time where some corpses start to appear for our story.
Now that Sergio is a presidential candidate his Wikipedia page is crisp and clean, and you’d be hard pressed to find anything exhumable there. Surely a team of fanatic militants with love for the cause is making sure to swiftly delete any chapter about his professional career that could endanger his chances of getting elected.
Luckily for you, this Mara blog doesn’t rely on any contributors, so we can dive right in.
Nordelta, Little Colombia and “Fondo Blanco”
Nordelta is the gated community that stands out in the Tigre municipality, it is also known under the nickname of "Little Colombia".
Construction company Oda Desarrollos was building many mansions in this neighborhood, or “country” as these gated communities are often called in Argentina, or so the company claimed.
It turns out that less than 2% of the houses in Nordelta were actually built by Oda Desarrollos.
The CEO of the construction company is Walter Mosca, a protégé of Sergio Massa, much like Enrique Ezkenazi was for another politician in the YPF story.
Walter Mosca becomes one of the main persons of interest in the "Fondo Blanco" operation.
This was a police operation carried out in Tigre and Buenos Aires at the end of 2013, where 114 kilos of cocaine were seized right on the Avenida 9 de Julio and several Colombians accused of drug trafficking and money laundering were arrested.
According to the national deputy of UNEN, Elisa Carrió, Sergio Massa had alerted those involved through Walter Mosca, about an imminent raid against the group. Walter’s assets were subsequently frozen by the courts and in 2016 several of his construction projects were linked to narco money laundering again.
The investigators began to follow the trail of a group of people who used to attend an evangelical church in Massa’s Tigre district.
My pastor just wrote me a letter
On October 28, 2013, the police seized a letter that a Colombian pastor named David Andrés Acevedo Muñoz had sent to one of his superiors in Colombia.
In that same Word document found on Pastor Marcos’s home computer, the good shepherd of the drug flock revealed that at some point in 2013, he was contacted by a well-known architect from Nordelta named Walter, with whom he met.
According to the letter, the architect told the pastor in that meeting that "the mayor of Tigre (Massa) had called him to tell him that there is a judicial file and a search warrant" for drug trafficking and money laundering for Colombian Jesús Antonio Yépez Gaviria, alleged construction businessman based in Nordelta and a parishioner of the temple.
Autist note: Churches and religious temples are a great cover for money laundering, as this case shows. This group were depositing up to $500,000 pesos per month per church in multiple bank accounts, which was about $35,000 US token in 2014. They claimed that money was all donated to the church by happy churchgoers, who must have had a lot of cash to spare.
According to the pastor's account, the architect told him that there was a very prestigious Argentine prosecutor trying to find out what the judicial file was based on.
This prosecutor turned out to be Julio Novo.
Julio Novo was a close friend and "campaign strategist" of Sergio Massa for over a decade. He could be found sitting to the left of the former mayor of Tigre during his campaign events and rallies against drugs, in which he actively participated (on both sides, lol).
Countless photos show them together, hugging or shaking hands, in different settings in the province of Buenos Aires.
Their friendship was so intimate that the cause that sunk prosecutor Alberto Novo has several pages dedicated to Sergio Massa, whose campaigns he would have helped finance.
Far from feeling ashamed for having "made friends" with a prosecutor who conceals murderers and drug traffickers, Sergio Massa ordered his legislators to hinder the prosecution process.
Massa’s attempts to keep his good prosecutor friend Julio out of jail eventually proved to be in vain, and Novo was prosecuted and had to step down together with his complete staff.
The seized word document also stated that the mayor of Tigre Sergio Massa had sent word that the raids were imminent and that the reason behind all this was the electoral dispute with Cristina Kirchner in the presidential race.
The letter says verbatim (emphasis added throughout):
"...Walter told me that he had received a very important call and that I had to meet with him urgently, that's how I met with him, and he told me that the mayor of Tigre had called him to tell him that there is a judicial file and a search warrant for everything related to Brother Antonio, for drug trafficking and money laundering (...)
The mayor told him that this was imminent, since he is disputing with the president and she wants to overshadow the campaign of this mayor since she says that in Tigre he harbors drug traffickers”.
It is not the only case that links Massa to the drug trade and narco pastors.
Paving roads with white lines
In 2019, a woman named Alejandra Medrano publicly denounced that the current Minister of Economy was linked to an alleged drug dealer named Alejandro Norberto Sturma, head of the firm Way Maker SA.
According to Medrano "Massa is a close friend of Sturma, a businessman prosecuted for drug trafficking, who was a supplier of asphalt to the municipality of Tigre."
Medrano swore to have audios and other records that proved those links, but before being able to make them known, she was conveniently found dead.
Some say she committed suicide. Others, like her ex-boyfriend, swear to the contrary and say she was killed for denouncing Massa and Sturma. There were no autopsy results on the corpse either.
Medrano’s ex-boyfriend said (emphasis added):
“She got tired of denouncing them, there were wiretaps of the intervening prosecutors and judges, where they confessed that they had been bought.
She was the victim of a robbery, where a group of criminal friends of Massa robbed her house (…)
What they did to her is a disaster, these prosecutors were later promoted to judges in an appeals court by (María Eugenia) Vidal ”.
Medrano herself wrote what happened to her, just before she died (emphasis added):
"My life changed dramatically in May 2016 when they invaded my home, a triplex located in the town of Rincón de Milberg, in Tigre, and they stole all my stuff. Absolutely everything. There I came into contact with the real world.
I blindly trusted the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Mariano Magaz, because I was absolutely certain that his function was to investigate the crime and identify the culprits for their subsequent prosecution.
Initially, the case seemed to be on the right track until, as a result of the procedures carried out, it turned out that a van from a contractor company for the Municipality of Tigre, Way Maker SA, whose owner is closely related to Sergio Massa, had been involved in moving all my stolen goods to one of its workshops in General Pacheco.
The preparatory criminal investigation lost all momentum from the moment the municipal public works contractor became involved in the crimes investigated.
The wiretaps revealed that the owner of Way Maker SA had been warned of the existence of the case and was guaranteed protection and impunity. The prosecution unfolded the case in terms of the defendants, requiring trial in relation to only one of them […] and the investigation of the remaining defendants linked to Way Maker were completely stopped."
As you can probably understand by now, this Mara is starting to suspect that there are a little too many coincidences and close friends in Massa’s circle related to a world that most of us will never get to see.
When they do see it, there’s a high likelihood of ending up as roadkill if they plan on saying something about it.
So I will leave it at this and quickly discuss Massa’s relationship with the media and why it was so darn hard to unearth this kind of information.
Massa and the Media
Massa has a privileged relationship is with Grupo Uno, led by Daniel Vila and former Menem minister José Luis Manzano.
In addition to being personal friends, especially with Vila (the photo below confirms this), both businessmen are a kind of full-time advisers to Massa's presidential project during the 2015 elections.
Both Vila and Manzano have investments that exceed the media, although they are the second largest multimedia in Argentina (they own América, radio La Red, the newspapers La Capital de Rosario and Uno de Mendoza, among others).
This also explains the hard time one has digging up the narco relationships in Massa’s timeline.
From Minister to Official Candidate for Unión por la Patria
As I discussed in Alice in Weimarland, Sergio Massa saw his chance to jump up the ranks right after his predecessors in the Ministery of Economy left a lot to desire. You could say that comes with the role of Minister of Economy in Argentina, but admittedly Massa has outperformed the previous ministers under this same government, bringing more stability.
“Stability” in Argentina is relative with close to 150% YoY inflation, but the markets do seem to prefer his leadership for now.
Massa never hid his aspirations for the presidency, but it would be only a few hours before the closing of candidate lists that the official government party Unión por la Patria would push Massa forward as its main candidate.
As you can see from a small background check of good old Sergio, anything is possible in Argentina if you put your enough effort into it.
He is a classical example of a child born into a first generation Italian immigrant household who was able to manoeuvre into the right —or wrong, depending on your moral compass— circles, climbing up the political ladder quickly.
Massa is also a typical chameleon opportunist who has jumped from liberal parties to socialist and back. It’s not the road, it’s the destination, and that destination is gaining more and more power and influence, as is often the case in political spheres.
The question is whether Sergio will be flying too close to the sun this time, even if he does get elected. Before joining the current government, Massa was always in a constant clash with Kirchnerism, and he can be considered to be a more liberal Peronist.
Cristina Kirchner, who is the brains behind the current government and the party, might have pushed his candidacy for a reason: there is no way that the next government will be successful in restoring any kind of economic stability without applying extensive austerity measures and cutting public spending.
If that responsibility falls on Sergio Massa, he will quickly fall out of grace and become a scapegoat. After that it would be free game for Kirchnerism to come and save the day once more from the vile IMF bootlickers.
We will see how this all plays out, first in August with the PASO pre-elections, and then in October with the final election rounds. I’m sure Way Maker SA is eagerly awaiting more government contracts, and perhaps Sergio can pave the way for some additional Little Colombias along the way.
See you in the Jungle, anon!
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