Nestor Kirchner told the truth. I was right. On May 25, 2003, he entered the Casa Rosada without leaving his convictions at the door. Less than a week before that historic day, the then employee of Banco de Santa Cruz with a construction company created that same month, Lázaro Báez, walked with his son Leandro, and also entered the Government House for the first time. The then private secretary of the new President, Daniel Álvarez, also an assistant to Cristina Kirchner, was waiting for them. He took the Baezes, fascinated with the first knowledge of the pomp of the Palace that is the seat of Argentine power, to a room where the rest of his secretaries were waiting for the Chief.
Everyone greeted Baez with affection. They knew him from Río Gallegos. Leandro Báez was then thirteen years old, but he still remembers that special day, and so he declared before the Justice, details more or less, some of them that are added to this scene reconstructed by Clarín thanks to sources that were almost part of the great K family.
The President, without telling his friend Lázaro, suddenly appeared in that remote environment to summon him to speak without witnesses. Before, he made them a generous guide to Báez father and son. That's how they met the Casa Rosada that, strictly speaking, even he didn't know at all. Photos were taken in rooms with golden details, oils, sculptures. And then they did go to the office of the Presidents. Leandro was pleased and amazed. Pictures were taken again. All together. They never transcended. Rivadavia's armchair was the great witness of that inaugural visit of a new era between Kirchner and business partner.
Baez once told his family and friends that in that same place "Nestor" introduced him to two officials with moustaches. Alberto and Aníbal Fernández. It was before he ordered an adviser to take that dazzled young man back to the place where the private secretaries of the Presidency worked in good spirits. Néstor and Lázaro spoke alone in the most important office of the Argentine Republic. They were beginning to design new methods that would make them money.
Báez was then a monotributista and had registered eight days earlier a company whose objective was explicit in his name: Austral Construcciones S.A. A few years passed and that company was the leading firm of a successful emporium in various areas, always with a flow of millionaire funds guaranteed by the financing of the State that was first led by his friend and partner Néstor. And then his partner and friend Cristina.
Kirchner had entered the Casa Rosada with a conviction that was known in Río Gallegos but not nationally. For him, political influence was also a way to increase his personal wealth.
Twenty years after the first time Lázaro Báez entered the presidential office occupied by the Kirchners, that bond is still news. And new evidence appears about this relationship that is still being investigated in several judicial cases, especially in one, Hotesur-Los Sauces, which can return to the instance of oral and public trial if the Court of Cassation does not further delay a definition in this regard.
The links between the vice president and Báez were once again totally topical, because the President himself, Alberto Fernández, promoted the controversy again when he again mentioned the business between the two and affirmed that Cristina could have committed "serious ethical oversights" when trading with Lázaro, although he affirmed it in a supposed tone of defense since he added that equally the contracts between the two, or between the employer and State K, would not be crimes.
That statement was enough for the vice president and his entourage, especially Máximo Kirchner, to go into fury mode. The Head of State was the only one absent from the May 25 event in Plaza de Mayo, headed by the Vice, who explained that he was not invited to that event.
The day before, Wednesday 24, it was learned that the prosecutor of the case "La Ruta del Dinero K", Guillermo Marijuán, had decided to dismiss it in that case, although he provided new evidence that could complicate the procedural situation of Cristina Kirchner in other investigations of judges and prosecutors.
Twenty years later, more and more official documentation is still detected confirming the obvious.
It wasn't just Nestor Kirchner who did business with Baez. Cristina also promoted them from the Presidency.
Meanwhile, the former builder spends his days serving house arrest after having suffered a long stint in prison. Better not to reproduce what he says about the vice president in private. They are curses that he holds under the fury and blind anger that comes from knowing that she never defended him in public.
Kirchner died on October 27, 2010, and Cristina, cornered by Justice after being convicted of corruption due to the businesses with which she benefited Báez from the Presidency, tries to install the idea that the link with the businessman was a relationship that fed her husband and no one else in her family.
Reality reminds him from time to time that these sayings are not consistent with the facts.
There is more and more legal evidence that indicates the opposite, and that puts her, and her son, Deputy Máximo Kirchner, as axes of their private business with Báez.
So much so that the Vice President herself announced that she would not be a candidate in the next elections on December 6, 2022, the day the verdict was known in which she was sentenced to six years in prison, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office, for having committed the crime of embezzlement of public funds within the framework of the "Vialidad" case.
His actions from the Presidency were, for the judicial authorities, crucial and purposeful to benefit from multimillion-dollar public works contracts won by his partner, Lázaro Báez, only taking into account the province of Santa Cruz.
The Federal Oral Court 2, like prosecutors Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola, alone did not agree on how this corruption plan was carried out, which they described as monumental and unique in history.
The prosecutors dissent from the magistrates and appealed to reconsider that Cristina committed one more crime, that of leading an illicit association that was created to empty the public coffers.
When Cristina learned that she would be convicted, she spread a monologue of fury through the networks, in which she shouted uncontrollably that "I am not going to be a candidate! I am not going to subject the political force that gave me the honor of being twice President and a Vice-President to being mistreated during the election period by saying that they have a convict!"
Despite this emphasis, half a year passed and the militancy and part of the K leadership insisted that he review that attitude.
In the act of May 25, on a stage set up in Plaza de Mayo, he repeated what he had already said at the beginning of last December.
The judicial conviction cut short his electoral career. The commercial relationship with Báez enriched his private patrimony and he was finally the "executioner" in politics after twenty years of influencing from the most important positions of the Nation.
The Cristina-Báez case is so resounding that even a ruling in which prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán asked the vice president to dismiss the case in the "La Ruta del Dinero K" case, ended up complicating it in other processes that investigate that commercial company so "successful" for two decades.
It happens that Marijuán explained why he could not prosecute her for money laundering, but exposed new evidence about the relationship that Cristina Kirchner continued to maintain with Lázaro Báez once Nestor Kirchner died.
The latter occurred in October 2010.
According to Marijuán, between October and December 2012, he found that there were "at least 372 telephone contacts in a period of just over two years (the aforementioned dates) between telephones of Lázaro Báez and Cristina Elisabet Fernández and / or their secretaries and collaborators."
To that was added official documentation that showed that Báez entered the Olivos Presidential Residence (RPO) twice, once on October 2, 2010 and the other on December 23 of the same year.
"Simply, just by imagining how difficult or almost impossible it is for any citizen to call a President of the Nation by telephone, the result of this measure shows, with that immense amount of contacts, that Lázaro Báez and Cristina Fernández were more than simple acquaintances of Santa Cruz and had a fluid contact," Marijuán wrote, adding that this information could be valuable for other Justice investigators who must still define judicial processes on the joint business plot between the Kirchner family and the Báez.
If we add to that the evidence that prosecutor Diego Luciani listed in his allegation of the Vialidad case regarding what he called the "Plan Clean Everything", that is, the joint organization between the current vice president and the builder who would have decided to close the companies created by the executive of a very ascendant holding company born in Santa Cruz so that there is no evidence about it after she left power in power. In 2015, then the conclusion is definitive: between calls, visits to Olivos, crossed chats to organize meetings between both protagonists of this story, these actions were developed, without counting years ago, between the end of Cristina Kirchner's first presidential term and the end of the last period in which the current vice president held power.
The hotel rental businesses owned by the Kirchners at exorbitant prices for the market, added to property rentals also of the K in which Báez or his companies were the very generous tenants; or the purchases of houses or the gift of apartments made by the businessman benefited by State K, always spending hundreds and hundreds of thousands more than he could have paid, the plot of negotiations between Báez and the Kirchners, should be analyzed in the oral hearings of the Hotesur-Los Sauces case.
The evidence is irrefutable and Kirchner could never replicate it with arguments.
Beyond that, and thanks to the management in the Financial Information Unit (UIF) under the mandate of Mariano Federici between 2015 and 2019, evidence is added that indicates that there were an infinity of public bodies in K management that did not audit those businesses, and other transfers of funds between the two families, in addition to suspicious air travel: the BCRA, the National Bank, the AFIP, the UIF itself, the Attorney General of the Treasury, the Attorney General of the Nation, and the Ministry of Federal Planning or the Secretariat of Public Works, among others.
In 2019, in front of the judges of the court that convicted her of corruption, a very angry Cristina Kirchner shouted "I am not a friend of Lazaro Báez, I was never a friend of Lázaro Báez!"
One more test, in case it were necessary, to know if the vice told the truth or not, ignoring other issues, such as the construction of the Mausoleum in which the remains of Néstor Kirchner rest, work that was in charge of the non-friend Lázaro: Melina Báez, one of the daughters of the businessman, declared in Justice that she met the current vice after the death of her husband.
Leandro, the youngest son, was the first to accompany him to visit the Casa Rosada when his friend came to total power.
Martin Báez, her eldest son, figures not only calling her private secretaries, but also visiting officials such as José López, the man with the bags, under her management.
She inaugurated the new stadium of Boca Juniors de Río Gallegos.
Cristina was the "godmother" of the new club.
He led the act that opened the renovated facility with Martin Baez seated to his left, whom he affectionately named.
Vice President Kirchner and her partner Báez marked the final years of her administration. And now they also leave their scars at the end of Cristina's electoral career.
Friends are friends.