Argentina pays off crisis bond

Argentina celebrated Friday after paying the final $2.19 billion installment on a bond handed to people whose savings were seized during the country's crippling economic crisis a decade ago.

When the Latin American powerhouse plunged into one of the largest debt defaults in history -- $100 billion -- it froze bank deposits and forbade withdrawals in a process known as the "corralito" aimed at stopping bank runs.

"We have finished reimbursing the 'corralito,'" the Ministry of Economy said on its website, as a countdown clock marked zero. On Thursday, President Cristina Kirchner had hailed "the end of a historic era."

"What we will reimburse now is nothing else but what the banks should have reimbursed citizens," she said.

The economy minister at the time, Domingo Cavallo, ordered all Argentine bank deposits frozen on December 1, 2001 -- some $70 billion -- in an attempt to prevent the banks from collapsing.

In order to compensate savers, the government had issued $19.6 billion in notes to those whose accounts had been frozen.

Many Argentines recovered their savings thanks to court decisions. But thousands more are still fighting to get them back.

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