José Luis Manzano; date of return to Mendoza following period of residence abroad; investigation of Manzano's alleged involvement in money laundering and narcotics trafficking; whether such an investigation was led by César Torres and José Sartorio; reports of attacks on Torres and Sartorio in 1999 (1996-May 2001) [ARG37090.E]

José Luis Manzano served as interior minister under President Carlos Menem from August 1991 until December 1992, when he resigned amid allegations linking him to "cases of corruption and illicit enrichment" (LARR 24 Dec. 1992; Página/12 1 Aug. 1999). An investigation of these allegations by judicial authorities was subsequently called off by Federal Judge Carlos Liporaci (La Gaceta 3 Sept. 2000; La Nación 4 Sept. 2000; La Jornada 5 Jan. 2001).

Following his departure from Menem's cabinet, Manzano relocated to Miami, Florida, where he reportedly pursued academic studies in political economy and finance (Página/12 1 Aug. 1999). Information on the exact date of Manzano's return to Mendoza could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, according to the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación, Manzano's consulting firm, known as Integra Consultores y Servicios SA, was incorporated in the Province of Mendoza on 2 December 1996 (19 Feb. 1997). In February 1997, Manzano was reported to have spoken with journalists at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza airport upon his return from a trip abroad (ibid. 4 Feb. 1997), and in July 1997 he became a member of the Buenos Aires-based Creole Horse Breeders' Association (Asociación de Criadores de Caballos Criollos, ACCC) (ibid. 17 Aug. 1997). In a 3 November 1998 report, the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín stated that Manzano had lived in Mendoza on a permanent basis for approximately two years.

In his business activities, Manzano was closely linked to Jorge Mas Canosa, the now deceased founder of the anti-Castro Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) (Página/12 1 Aug. 1999; La Jornada 5 Jan. 2001; La Nación 30 Mar. 2000), and Daniel Vila, Mendoza-based owner of the Uno Group (Diario Los Andes 5 Aug. 2000; ibid. 1 Apr. 2001). In partnership with Vila, Manzano established or acquired a controlling interest in as many as 25 cable television between 1995 and 1997 (Página/12 1 Feb. 2001), along with a number of magazines and newspapers, including Diario Uno and Primera Fila of Mendoza, and La Capital of Rosario (Diario Los Andes 1 Apr. 2001; La Nación 8 Apr. 2001).

No reports of an investigation of Manzano in connection with narcotics trafficking could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, in October 2000 Bernardo Martín Rutti, a former partner of Daniel Vila, lodged a complaint in federal court in Mendoza alleging that Manzano and Vila had evaded taxes and laundered more than US$400 million (CDN$614,320,000) acquired illicitly by Manzano while in public office (ibid.; Página/12 1 Feb. 2001). According to Rutti, who also lodged a complaint before the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos, AFIP) (Página/12 1 Feb. 2001), funds held by Manzano in overseas accounts were used to finance the purchase of companies in Argentina, with the origin of such funds hidden through the use of a network of investment companies (La Nación 8 Apr. 2001; ibid. 18 Apr. 2001). The Mendoza-based federal court judge responsible for investigating Rutti's allegations was Alfredo Rodríguez (ibid. 8 Apr. 2001).

On 17 April 2001, Rutti lodged a second complaint in federal court in Mendoza against Vila, alleging that the latter had offered him US$100,000 (CDN$153,580) to desist in his legal action, and to claim instead that his complaint against Vila had been instigated by Federal Court Judge Luis Leiva and others in an attempt to malign him (ibid. 18 Apr. 2001). Rutti further claimed that Vila had threatened him with "permanent judicial persecution" (persecución judicial permanente) if he refused his offer (ibid.). Registered as Case No. 11.082/E, Rutti's second complaint was also being investigated by Federal Judge Rodríguez (ibid.).

No additional information on the investigation of Manzano's involvement in money laundering and tax evasion could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

No mention of José Sartorio could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

No information linking César Torres, who was secretary general of the Buenos Aires wing of the Justicialist Party (Partido Justicialista, PJ) as recently as March 2000 (ibid. 8 Mar. 2000), to any investigation of José Luis Manzano could be found among the sources consulted. No reports could be found indicating that Torres was the object of an attack in 1999.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Clarín [Buenos Aires]. 3 November 1998. Renato Di Fabio. "Manzano declaró en la causa por el secuestro de Macri." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

Diario Los Andes [Mendoza]. 1 April 2001. "Entre multimedios y aliados famosos." [Accessed 2 Apr. 2001]

_____. 5 August 2000. "Vinculan las inversiones de Vila y Manzano." [Accessed 2 Apr. 2001]

La Gaceta [Tucumán]. 3 September 2000. "Un político envuelto en el escándalo." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 5 January 2001. "Frena justicia argentina dos medidas exigidas por el FMI a De la Rúa para otorgar préstamo." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

Latin American Regional Reports: Southern Cone Report (LARR) [London]. 24 December 1992. "Mini-Reshuffle to 'Oxygenate' Cabinet."

La Nación [Buenos Aires]. 18 April 2001. "Otra grave denuncia contra Vila." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 8 April 2001. "La justicia de Mendoza investiga al grupo Vila-Manzano." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 4 September 2000. "Un juez acostumbrado a navegar en aguas turbulentas." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 30 March 2000. "Vila, el amigo de Manzano y Mas Canosa." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 8 March 2000. "Otro fracaso para definir las listas del PJ porteño." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 17 August 1997. "Ahora, Manzano cría caballos de pura raza criolla." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 19 February 1997. "Manzano se instaló como consultor." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 4 February 1997. "Manzano se distancia de la política." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

Página/12 [Buenos Aires]. 1 February 2001. "Manzano, Vila y compañía." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

_____. 1 August 1999. "La gestión de Don Alfredo." [Accessed 17 May 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases.

Latin American Regional Reports: Southern Cone Report [London]. 1996-2001.

Internet sites including:

Canal 9 Televida [Mendoza]. Sintesis de noticias. Aug. 2000-Apr. 2001.

Clarín [Buenos Aires]. 1997-2001.

Corrupción Policial, Judicial y Politica en la República Argentina.

Cuyo Noticias [Mendoza]. Aug. 2000-Apr. 2001.

Diario Los Andes [Mendoza]. Feb.-May; Sept. 2000-May 2001.

La Nación [Buenos Aires]. 1997-2001.