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Argentine center almost out of debt

Visitors to the AMIA center in Buenos Aires pause at a memorial to the 85 people who were killed there in a 1994 terrorist bombing. (Robert A. Cumins)

Visitors to the AMIA center in Buenos Aires pause at a memorial to the 85 people who were killed there in a 1994 terrorist bombing. (Robert A. Cumins)

BUENOS AIRES, Jan. 21 (JTA) — Argentina’s main Jewish institution is almost out of debt. After a 1994 bombing that killed 85 and left more than 300 wounded, a lot of borrowing was needed to keep AMIA running. The debts once reached $24 million, but they have been reduced by 85 percent, AMIA President Abraham Kaul said — and he expects the debts to be paid off completely by April. Advantages related to Argentina’s economic collapse — such as the devaluation of Argentina’s currency and interest rate reductions on bank loans — as well as efficient operations helped AMIA pay off its debts, Kaul and AMIA’s treasurer, Angel Barman, told a news conference last week. While 90 percent of the money paid came from AMIA, the remaining 10 percent was given by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel. AMIA now wants local donors to help it develop social, education and cultural programs. “We need to start replacing the help we are receiving from other countries. We have to gain autonomy and not get used to this help, which, of course, is not endless,” Kaul said. Kaul also announced three new projects AMIA is developing: • subsidizing employers for one year to give employment to needy Jews; • creating funds to support employment projects for younger Jews in Argentina and Uruguay; and • opening new Jewish schools in areas where Jews have moved in the past decades.

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