Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is again outraging many of her constitutents after comparing investment funds that have bought up Argentina's national debt to William Shakespeare's Shylock, an anti-Semitic portrayal of a moneylender, during a meeting with schoolchildren on July 2. The comments, which Kirchner recounted on her own Twitter account after the visit, drew criticism from the country's large Jewish community.
Kirchner said Argentina's economic woes could be understood through reading "The Merchant of Venice," which involves a cruel Jewish moneylender seeking revenge on his debtors, reports the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. She described in her Spanish-language tweets shortly after the meeting that she asked the 10-years-olds about which Shakespeare play they were reading and they responded "Romeo and Juliet."
She tweeted "I said, you have to read the 'Merchant of Venice' to understand the vulture funds," and that everyone laughed. "No, don't laugh," she then tweeted. "Usury and bloodsuckers have been immortalized in the greatest literature for centuries."
Kirchner did not retract her statement, instead defending herself by tweeting an ad for a production of "The Merchant of Venice" two years ago by an Israeli theater company in Spain.
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 6, 2015
In April, Kirchner claimed in a lengthy column published on her official website that she was the target of a conspiracy among American "vulture funds," Jewish community groups and the apparently murdered prosecutor Alberto Nisman to undermine her efforts to improve relations with Iran, according to the Guardian. Nisman, a Jew, was found dead in his home in January during his investigation of a possible government coverup of Iranian involvement in bombings of Argentine Jewish sites in the 1990s.
"We are facing a global modus operandi, which not only severely injures national sovereignty, but also generates international political operations of any type, shape and color," said Kirchner in the post. Anti-Semites have long accused Jews of controlling the global economy.
Argentina still owes more than $1.5 billion to American investment funds after defaulting in 2001, according to the Guardian. A New York court recently ruled that the nation's government would have to make a full repayment on its bonds.