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Argentine president to sue prominent opposition politician for defamation

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Argentine President Alberto Fernández Monday announced he would sue former Security Minister and chairwoman of the opposition Cambiemos Party Patricia Bullrich for slander, following her remarks about the current Government’s actions (or inactions) regarding the purchase of Pfizer vaccines.

”I have instructed my lawyers that next Monday (May 31), they should initiate the appropriate legal actions against those who have launched such shameful defamation. Democratic coexistence cannot authorize insult and lies to become an admitted practice,“ wrote Fernández on Twitter.

Patricia Bullrich
Patricia Bullrich. (Photo internet reproduction)

Bullrich, a likely presidential contestant in 2023, had spoken of the existence of an alleged request for bribes from the government to Pfizer during negotiations and vowed to take it to the courts.

But the US laboratory Monday issued a statement denying Bullrich’s allegations as well as the existence of ”intermediaries or representatives.“ The Pfizer statement also involved then Health Minister Ginés González García – Argentina’s current ambassador in Bogotá- who also announced he would sue Bullrich.

”Such an accusation is absolutely false and therefore unacceptable, something that the person who formulated it knew well. She said what she said without caring about the damage it caused not only to those she accused but also to public trust and the very institutions of the Republic,“ President Fernández went on.

Fernández underlined that ”in no country in the world are such imputations launched with such lightheartedness tolerated; not without this causing the immediate social reaction of those who were unduly injured.“

”The anguish that the pandemic generates in our people does not tolerate so much irresponsibility,“ Fernández insisted.

Pfizer maintained that ”it has not received any requests for undue payments at any time“ and that ”on the other hand, the company does not have intermediaries, private distributors or representatives for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.“

The statement, released through its subsidiary in Buenos Aires, came 12 hours after Bullrich spoke against González García during a TV interview. ”The attitude of González García was to try to have a payback, that the president (Alberto Fernández) was not unaware of,“ the former Security Minister under Mauricio Macri said she singled out businessman Hugo Sigman as the middle man.

”If they ask me how I’m doing, I’m bad. If they ask me what I’m going to do, I say, I’m going to file a criminal complaint, civil complaint and everything necessary…,” González García said.

The statement from Pfizer also underlined the fact that as a company from the United States, it is subject to the laws of its country of origin, particularly the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) that forces it to report any improper payment or attempted payment. The U.S. legislation establishes sanctions for companies involved in the payment of bribes, whether they are either American or foreign but otherwise listed on a US stock exchange.

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