Bitcoin Truly “Disrupts” Argentina

Bitcoin is supposed to be the latest disruptive technology. But whenever you hear someone use the buzzword “disruptive,” turn on your B.S. detector. Sure, technologies can be vaguely transformative, and that’s fine as far as it goes.

But the original concept of disruptive innovation is narrower. This term of art came from Harvard Business School guru Clayton Christensen, who meant something very specific.

“Disruptive innovation,” according to Christensen, “describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up-market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

Remember, that’s the “bottom” of a market, and by that, Christensen means not wealthy. (This distinguishes a disruptive tech from other transformative innovations, like computers and cell phones, which started at the top.) And the not-wealthy can sometimes be desperate to escape to a better system.

When it comes to Bitcoin, even the New York Times Magazine has figured this out:

Bitcoin proponents like to say that the currency first became popular in the places that needed it least, like Europe and the United States, given how smoothly the currencies and financial services work there.

It makes sense that a place like Argentina would be fertile ground for a virtual currency. Inflation is constant: At the end of 2014, for example, the peso was worth 25 percent less than it was at the beginning of the year. And that adversity pales in comparison with past bouts of hyperinflation, defaults on national debts and currency revaluations.

Less than half of the population use Argentine banks and credit cards. Even wealthy Argentines fear keeping their money in the country’s banks.

And the disruption is already happening: “Argentina has been quietly gaining renown in technology circles as the first, and almost only, place where Bitcoins are being regularly used by ordinary people for real commercial transactions.”

That satisfies the bottom of the market criterion. Whether it’s Argentines struggling with hyperinflation, or sub-Saharan Africans living under dictators and warlords, the developing world is likely to embrace bitcoin simply because it’s so much better than the failed banking and currency systems they’ve been locked in for so long.

“There are an estimated 2 billion ‘unbanked’ in the world,” says Bitnation CEO Susanne Tarkowski Templehof, “who don’t have access to global financial markets. To set up a bank account is difficult and expensive. Just like the developing world have leapfrogged in many other technologies, like mobile, etc., they’re likely to leapfrog in when it comes to financial technologies, as well — why shouldn’t they?”

Why shouldn’t they, indeed?

The beauty of the market process is that its gales of creative destruction almost always leave the world better off. And nowhere is it more important than for the people of the world who are longing for a chance at the freedom to build a better life for themselves.

Max Borders

Max Borders is the editor of the Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also co-founder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

“There is No Justice in Argentina”

Yesterday, the late Argentine Prosecutor, Alberto Nisman was laid to rest in the La Tablada Jewish Community in Buenos Aires amidst a veritable firestorm of controversy that stretched from Argentina to Israel. There were signs of “Justice for Nisman” and “Thank You” in the throng of hundreds outside La Tablada cemetery. Nisman was appropriately interred in the Martyrs Section reserved for the Jewish victims of the July 18, 1994 AMIA blast. A separate section in La Tablada is reserved for suicides. The obituary in La Nacion contained the Hebrew abbreviation z”l of blessed memory.’ Many in the Argentine Jewish Community considered that appropriate as they deemed him the “86th victim” of the AMIA blast. In effect his burial in the Martyrs section repudiated initial official assessments from President Cristina de Fernandez Kirchner and the investigating prosecutor that he may have been a suicide. Kirchner quickly changed her story to a likely murder by rogue intelligence elements who had “manipulated” Nisman.

Among the mourners at his funeral were his two daughters 7-year old Ila and 15 year old Kala, his sister, mother and ex-wife, Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado. The Times of Israel (TOI) report noted:

“This is burying part of our republic,” said Patricia Bullrich, an opposition member of Congress, before entering the cemetery. “It’s a day of reflection and sadness for all of Argentina.”

A farewell letter written by Nisman’s daughters to their father was published Thursday in Argentine papers. “We hope now you can rest in peace. We will guard in our hearts the beautiful moments we lived together,” they wrote.

In a separate funeral notice, Nisman’s ex-wife Salgado said she felt “profound sorrow” for their daughters. “I say goodbye to you, hoping you find the peace that your dedication to your job did not let you fully enjoy,” it said.

The Guardian reported:

Hundreds of protesters, convinced that he was a victim of foul play, gathered in front of the cemetery, some holding placards demanding “Justice for Nisman”.

“It is a great injustice. He was threatened,” said Cristina Paredes, 53, who said Nisman’s death “is the straw the broke the camel’s back” for Argentineans fed up with Kirchner and accusations of corruption by her administration.

The death was mourned as far away as Israel, which hailed Nisman – son of a textile merchant who had studied law at the University of Buenos Aires – as “courageous”.

A friend in Geneva, Switzerland, Imre Herzog, who had forwarded several of our Iconoclast posts on Nisman death to members of the Argentine Jewish community, reported a woman commenting, “There is no Justice in Argentina.”

Nisman was found dead shot with a .22 caliber pistol delivered to him on January 17th by Diego Lagomarsino, the IT manager of the Special Investigative Unit. Lagomarsino, the last person to see Nisman, told a news conference the Prosecutor “didn’t trust his security detail.” Moreover, as the TOI reported, Nisman had chilling evidence of a threat on his life from alleged Iranian sources. He played a recorded voice message recorded while one of his daughters visited him. Ironically, Lagomarsino is being accused of violating Argentinean laws regarding conveying unregistered weapons. Nisman’s death on Sunday January 18th occurred on the cusp of his scheduled testimony at a Congressional hearing on a 289 page Compliant his Special Investigative Unit had prepared.  It contained accusations of a cover up  by President Kirchner and Foreign Minister Timerman of a trade deal with Iran in exchange for dropping charges against Iranian officials involved in the 1994 AMIA Bombing. Nisman’s murder might have been by members of his security detail on orders of shadowy Argentine opponents or a professional hitman from Hezbollah. Iran and proxy Hezbollah have operatives in the Triple Frontier border zone, where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet considered the Iron Triangle of terrorism in Latin America.

The 1994 AMIA blast that created the Martyrs section in the La Tablada cemetery was attributed to 29 year old Lebanese Hezbollah suicide bomber, Ibrahim Hussein Berro, who was driving a Renault Trafic van packed with 275 kilograms of shaped explosives using ammonium nitrate fertilizer and a fuel oil mixture.  Eighty-five were killed and hundreds were injured in the blast that tore off the façade of the Jewish community facility causing it to collapse. The explosion spread death, havoc and injuries in the street in a crowded Buenos Aires central commercial district.  Berro had been identified by his brothers in Michigan as a Hezbollah member. They gave Nisman a photograph that matched an artist rendering of a description from other eye- witnesses who had briefly glimpsed Berro driving to his fateful end.  Nisman remarked, “The brothers’ testimony was substantial, rich in detail and showed that he was the one who was killed”.

Nisman’s relentless pursuit of who organized this pre-9/11 action led him to obtain an Interpol red tag warrant for the arrest and prosecution of senior Iranian officials and Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah. Mughniyah was brought to justice when on February 12, 2008 he was killed in a car bombing when he stepped into his Mitsubishi Pajero leaving a celebration of the 1979 Islamic Revolution at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria. Many believe that this may have been by Mossad in retribution for Mughniyah’s role in planning and executing both the 1992 Israeli Embassy and 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombings in Buenos Aires. Others identified in the 2007 Compliant, approved by a majority vote of the Interpol Assembly meeting in Morocco, were several Iranian officials including former President Rafsanjani and current President Rouhani. They had all been present at a meeting in Mashad, Iran in August 14, 1993 that authorized the operation with the proviso that it “kill without leaving a trace”- the title of a book  on Nisman’s investigations by Israeli-Argentinean Gustavo Perednik. The animus for these murderous attacks against Israelis and Argentineans is alleged to be Argentina’s suspension of a nuclear transfer agreement that same year that began during the era of the late Shah. Immediately following the AMIA blast, a Panamanian commuter flight on August 19, 1994 was blown up in mid-air by an Arab passenger carrying forged Columbian documents. All 21 passengers and crew were killed, including 12 Jewish businessmen bound for Panama City from Colon. Panamanian and US investigators deemed that a terrorist action.

One aspect of the Nisman saga affects the US, as well. In an interview with Lou Dobbs of Fox News, Claudia Rosett, Journalist- in- Residence at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies told of Nisman being barred by the Argentine Justice Ministry from appearing at a 2013 Congressional Hearing on Iranian-Hezbollah terror networks. Networks as Rosett pointed out that originated in the Triple Frontier, spread throughout all of Latin America to Mexico and even here in the US. Think of the Quds Force deal with a Mexican Cartel and an Iranian émigré in Texas seeking to arrange the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the US at a Washington, DC restaurant.  Despite Nisman being barred from testifying before the Congressional Committee, an empty chair with a place card bearing his name was placed in front at the Hearing. A testament to the esteem and his courage in warning us of Iran’s long reach of state sponsored terrorism that have claimed over hundreds of lives of innocent victims and  now, Nisman.  His legacy cries out for independent Argentine/US/Israeli filings before the International Criminal Court at The Hague to finally bring to justice Iranian officials who organized the crimes and corrupt Argentinean officials complicit in the monstrous cover up.

Watch the Fox News Lou Dobbs interview with Claudia Rosett:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of th funeral cortege for late Alberto Nisman La Tablada Jewish Cemetery 1-29-15 in Buenos Aires. Source: AP.

Jewish Hero Alberto Nisman Found Dead in Buenos Aires

Following our post this morning on the mysterious death of courageous Argentine General Prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance posted his impression of Nisman whom he iterviewed in Buenos Aires in 2009, Jewish Hero Found Dead in Buenos Aires.

The BBC reported  an Argentine  post-mortem review that allegedy there was “outside intervention”. However, Investigating Prosecutor, Viviane Fein was cited saying that “she was still awaiting the results of other tests “in order to be able to rule out any other hypothesis.  She ruled out burglary as a motive and also said that no suicide note had been found in the flat. ”

Argentine Potesters outside Congress in Buenos Aires  Source EPA

Argentine Protesters Ouside Congress in Buenos Aires 1-19-15. Source: EPA.

Jewish Hero Found Dead in Buenos Aires

Alberto Nisman was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. On Wednesday, he accused the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of involvement in a plot to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the bombing. Today, Mr Nisman, 51, was found dead by his mother in the bathroom of his home.

See news report here

In 2009, Charles Jacobs spent several hours with Alberto, interviewing him about the case. His subsequent report now serves as a tragic backgrounder.

Cover-up in Argentina 

Dr. Charles Jacobs

December 2, 2009

We Jews of Boston, like the Jews of Buenos Aires, number about 200,000. Some 15 years ago, an Islamic suicide bomber blew up their headquarters building, killing 86 people, wounding hundreds. I recently returned from Argentina, where I toured, did some research and pondered our Jewish fates.

With the help in Boston of Argentine Jewish leader Alberto Limonic, I was invited to interview the heads of the Jewish community in their newly constructed offices and also to meet with Alberto Nisman, Argentina’s chief prosecutor in charge of investigating the bombing. By a stroke of luck, I also met Gustavo Perednik, an Israeli scholar visiting his native Argentina, who has just published a book on the attack. I wish all of Boston Jewry could have heard what was said at these three meetings.

The visit to the AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) building was emotional. The new structure – built where the destroyed building stood (in order to make a point about Jewish permanence) – is set back from the street some 30 yards. It is protected from another possible bomb by a wall, the heaviest security doors I’ve ever encountered and constant policing. Here, Jews had been savagely murdered. No one has forgotten.

My wife and I were escorted by Ana Weinstein, the Jewish community’s federation director. On July 18, 1994, Weinstein escaped death by minutes, only because she rushed to a back office to retrieve notes for a meeting just before the blast. Her secretary, waiting for her, was killed. An amazingly strong, learned and graceful woman, Weinstein told us about the attack, its victims and survivors – many of whom were not Jews, but passers-by.

We were joined by Dr. Julio Schlosser, AMIA’s secretary general, who told of the heavy “security tax” imposed by terrorism – most policing of Jewish buildings is conducted and paid for by the Jews themselves – and of the community’s need to feed and support the many Jews hurt by Argentina’s long, long recession.

The next day, I interviewed Alberto Nisman in his offices. We spoke in Spanish. He is a historic figure, but I didn’t realize the full extent of what he had accomplished until I spoke to Perednik.

As the Israeli author tells it, Nisman, a lawyer and prosecutor, was picked as special investigator in 1997 to rubber stamp the government’s false account of the AMIA attack. The Argentine regime knew soon after the attack that Iran engineered the plot, but according to Perednik’s research, it could not accuse Teheran because Iran had replaced Russia as Argentina’s chief market for grain and meat. The regime was also concerned that Iran would retaliate with yet another strike if charged with the crime.

But Nisman surprised everyone. With dozens of investigators, an extraordinarily creative approach and an iron will, he uncovered the government hoax and convinced Interpol of his main finding: that the bombing of the Jewish headquarters was not – as Buenos Aires was telling the world – a plot by a few anti-Semitic policemen and low-level Iranian dissidents. According to Nisman, the attack was hatched, planned and financed by senior officials of the Iranian government, and executed by Teheran’s terror arm, Hezbollah. Nisman even specified the meeting where the bomb plot was hatched: Aug. 14, 1993, in the Iranian city of Mashad. Argentina apologized to The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for its role in the cover-up. Nisman, who has since been living under death threats, lives with bodyguards.

Though Nisman’s 800-plus page report is public, much more public education needs to be done. The alleged culprits – some holding senior positions in Iran’s government – are still free; and the growing Islamist penetration into South America (thank you, Hugo Chaves), which threatens all Jews in the Western Hemisphere, receives little public attention. Perednik – a scholar and award-winning author of 10 books – published his account of Nisman’s feat through the largest editorial house in South America, El Planeta. He told me he wrote “Matar, Sin Que Se Note” (“To Kill Without a Trace”) as a novel because he wanted a large, popular audience. Its protagonists include heads of state, Argentineans, Israelis and Iranians, as well as the mothers of the children who died in their arms as they casually passed by the AMIA on that fateful day.

In the novel’s most dramatic scene, based on a real-life event, Nisman travels to Detroit, interviews the family of the suicide bomber and is able to identify him as a Hezbollah operative. Meanwhile, the Iranians continue to deny any role in the bombing, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

It is a Jewish imperative to get this story known. Few Jews around the world have a full understanding of how the Islamic revolutionary regime in Teheran reached across the world to murder and terrorize Jews in the West. Few have ever heard of Alberto Nisman, a modern day Jewish hero.

Perednik’s book is only available in Spanish.  He is looking for an American publisher and a contract for a feature film. Until then, readers of Spanish here should read this book now.

Meanwhile, as a result of Nisman’s efforts, the judge originally in charge of the investigation will soon be tried for his alleged role in burying the truth.

And next year former Argentine President Carlos Menem, along with a former chief of staff of the Argentinean Intelligence, will go on trial for covering up the attack on the largest Jewish community in South America. Stay tuned.

Charles Jacobs is president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of late Argentine Prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Source: AFP.