Ana Arana/Index on Censorship. 05 octubre 2011
Like in a good spy novel, Santiago O’Donnell met Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, in an English country house after taking a serpentine route. There he received instructions on how to obtain the 2600 US State Department cables on Argentina.The release of the cables comes at a time of much friction between the Argentine media and President Cristina Kirchner.
O’Donnell, international editor for the left of centre newspaper Pagina 12, published several stories on the controversial batch of documents, but then went one step further; he wrote a bestseller, ArgenLeaks, in which he published the contents of the cables providing context and a sense timing to each of them. Organised alphabetically, the cables deal with such items as the relationship between Argentina’s largest daily Clarin and the US Embassy. It touches on the Valijagate, the story involving Antonini Wilson, the Venezuelan businessman who was caught with $800,000 and said it was money for the 2007 presidential campaign of Christina Kirchner. The case caused a serious breakdown in relations between the US and the new Kichner administration.
The book explains how it was all a misunderstanding that was expertly cleared up by the then Ambassador to Argentina Anthony Wayne. Some of the cables describe intricate political scandals better understood by Argenphiles, but there is a lot for general readers. In one interesting chapter on the Piqueteros, the social movement in Argentina, O’Donnell explains how the tone in the cables on these groups of protesters — there are several — who block roads to trigger government action to social demands, change when the Obama Administration comes into office. O’Donnell, a sort of curmudgeon of Argentinian journalism, says he wrote the book “as a rebellious act” to show how polarised Argentina’s media has become. The book shows that is not true that the pro-government dailies write about one half of Argentina’s reality and the opposition media about the other half, says O’Donnell. The truth is that neither of them writes about certain issues, he emphasises.
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