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In Argentina, Marchers Mark One Month Since Prosecutor's Death


In Argentina today, thousands of people are marching to mark one month since the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. A group of prosecutors organized this silent march to demand a transparent investigation into his death. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is at the march in Buenos Aires, and she joins us on the line. Lourdes, describe what you're seeing there. How are people getting their message across?

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Well, first of all, let me just say there's been a torrential downpour here, but that has not dampened people's commitment to coming out today even though some of them are wearing shower curtains and plastic garbage bags to keep dry. And they are basically holding up signs demanding justice. They say they want the truth. They want the end to impunity. And while this is being billed as an apolitical march, when you speak to people, of course, they say that they are here to oppose President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's government. They believe that she is the cause of many of the ills that have befallen Argentina. And they say that they are looking forward to the end of her term, which will be in about eight months.

MCEVERS: Explain to us again who Alberto Nisman was and why his death has been such a major event in the country.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Alberto Nisman was a prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. This was Argentina's worst ever terror attack, and he took over the case about 10 years ago. It's remained unresolved, but he accused Iran and its agents, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, of carrying out the attack. He was just about to report to Congress about his findings that President Kirchner and members of her government were trying to cover up Iran's involvement in order to sort of cement an oil-for-grain deal. And he was discovered with a bullet to his head in his apartment just before he was about to talk to Congress, and that of course has raised the specter of what happened to him. And we still don't know if he killed himself or if indeed it was murder, as the majority of people in Argentina believe.

MCEVERS: So what is the latest now on the investigation into his death?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, it's not going well, frankly. We have a sort of new star in the drama, which is both the government and the opposition groups saying that the investigation into Nisman's death is flawed. She's a 26-year-old waitress. She was picked up off the street by the police to be a witness at the investigation. Argentina has this unusual system where members of the public are sort of taken to crime scenes, and they're supposed to be there as impartial witnesses to make sure that the police are doing everything by the book. Unfortunately though, she has come out in the press saying that things were not done by the book - that in fact the crime scene was compromised. There were many, many people there - that evidence was tampered with. And so now this has created an enormous furor here with both the government and the opposition saying the entire investigation into Nisman's death is tainted, flawed and needs to start over.

MCEVERS: President Kirchner spoke today on national television. What did she have to say?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. It was classic President Kirchner. She came out swinging. She spoke about her legacy. She spoke about all the things that she's done for this country. She spoke about the upcoming elections. She is not able to run again, but certainly she wants someone from her party to succeed her, and so it was all about that. Her tone and what she was saying was a direct response to the thousands upon thousands of people who are marching today who say that they are tired of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's government - that they hold her responsible for Alberto Nisman's mysterious death.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lourdes, thank you so much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.