On January 14, Alberto Nisman, the lead federal prosecutor responsible for the investigation of the bombing of the AMIA community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 persons in 1994, filed a criminal complaint against the then-president and senior members of the government. The complaint alleged the former president negotiated the 2013 MOU with Iran to convey immunity upon the five Iranian suspects in the AMIA bombing case. On January 18, hours before Special Prosecutor Nisman was scheduled to testify before Congress, he was discovered dead in his apartment from a gunshot to the head. On February 26, a judge dismissed Nisman’s complaint, ruling the evidence put forward was insufficient to initiate criminal proceedings against the former president. The investigation into the death of Nisman continued at year’s end.
On April 27, a prosecutor initiated a criminal investigation alleging unnamed members of the Jewish community, Special Prosecutor Nisman, and members of the opposition party, while acting under the influence of financial and political interests from the United States, had conspired to force the country to abandon the MOU with Iran. The complaint was dismissed in November for lack of substantiating evidence.
On social media on April 20, then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner cited the investigation and said Argentina was under assault from a “global modus operandi.” She stated Special Prosecutor Nisman and the Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations (DAIA) had collaborated to prevent the implementation of the MOU with Iran and to destabilize the country. Jewish leaders and the Anti-Defamation League, an NGO that combats anti-Semitism, condemned Kirchner’s statements on the country’s economic problems in which she compared the investment funds that contributed to the national debt to the Shakespearean villain Shylock.
Then-Foreign Minister Hector Timerman stated AMIA was using the bombing incident to support political, economic, and social interests contrary to the country’s national interests.
During the 21st anniversary commemoration of the AMIA bombing, Jewish community speakers at the event focused many of their comments on what they said was the tension created by the government in the wake of Special Prosecutor Nisman’s death and continued criticism of the government’s MOU with Iran.
In June the Magistrates Council unseated a judge days before he was to vote on the appellate decision regarding the 2014 court decision finding the 2013 MOU with Iran unconstitutional. Media reports stated the judge was set to vote against the constitutionality of the MOU and thereby sway the court’s decision against the government. The appellate court subsequently delayed the case indefinitely. Jewish community representatives and the then-opposition political party continued to oppose the MOU, which was ratified by Argentina but not by Iran. On December 11, the new administration of President Mauricio Macri announced the government would withdraw its appeal of the judicial decision holding the MOU to be unconstitutional. The ruling became final on December 23 when the Federal Court of Cassation issued a decision accepting the government’s withdrawal of the appeal, effectively terminating the MOU.
The government assigned 50 Border Patrol agents to protect Pastor Marcelo Nieva and his Baptist Evangelical church in Rio Tercero, Cordoba Province. Nieva’s 2014 religious discrimination case was assigned to a federal judge. Nieva stated that criminal groups targeted him and his church because of his social work, particularly with victims of sex trafficking and gender-based violence.
The secretary of worship, the Buenos Aires director general for religious affairs, and other government representatives hosted and attended religious freedom conferences, interreligious dialogues, rabbinical ordinations, and Rosh Hashanah, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr celebrations, as well as other religious activities, including those held by Protestant and Orthodox churches throughout the year.
The government is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.