Judiciary reform: opposition hardens and prepares to block government initiative in the Chamber of Deputies

María de los Angeles Sacnun, chairman of the Constitutional Affairs committee and Senator Alberto Weretilneck, secretary (@sacnun)

That July 24th session that ended with a friction between Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the senator Martin Lousteau, the ruling party and the opposition voted unanimously to extend the remote operation protocol for 60 days, that is, almost until the end of September. Although Juntos pela Mudança has managed to force a condition (that there be meetings of Parliamentarians between the heads of the blocs to settle the issues to be discussed), the regulation could be extended even without the votes of the opposition. That is why the debate on the reform of the Judiciary will continue this afternoon in the Upper Chamber in the same way as it did last week and despite the agreement of the main figures of the opposition coalition that seek to stop the discussion in the scope of the pandemic and requires face-to-face sessions. Different is the case of Deputies, the chamber where the protocol has expired and this week’s commissions can only function in an informative way and with no chance of governing.

In a zoom of meeting that united Costa Azul with Capital, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Formosa and Mendoza, for more than two hours Mauricio Macri, Patricia Bullrich, Alfredo Cornejo, Maximiliano Ferraro, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, María Eugenia Vidal, Martín Lousteau and the bosses of the blocs of deputies and senators, Mario Negri, Juan Manuel López, Cristian Ritondo, Luis Naidenoff and Humberto Schiavoni, agreed to unify the criteria and announced that they will not accept to debate remotely the Federal Justice Organization and Jurisdiction Bill based in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and in the provinces. Until the previous night, none of them had officially communicated the decision to Sergio Massa, mayor, or Máximo Kirchner, president of the bloc of deputies of the Frente de Todos, although they had already been warned about the negotiations in recent weeks. In the Senate, they will wait for the last July 24 deal to expire to redirect the strategy. In the meantime, the only institutional tool available to them to stop the ruling party is not to make initiatives that require two-thirds of the votes viable.

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The strategy against judicial reform for the time being can only be applied to deputies where neither the Frente de Todos nor the Juntos por el Cambio have 129 votes, except with allies.

“They want to guarantee impunity for the vice president,” warned Civic Coalition chief Maximiliano Ferraro in a conversation with DTV yesterday afternoon to express his rejection. He also recalled “the onslaught” of the ruling party that tried to advance a political trial against prosecutor Eduardo Casal. “We ask you to resist, you will have the support of Together for Change and the Civic Coalition”, he promised in reiterating that, even in diversity, there is a unanimous position in the alliance that he integrates to demand face-to-face sessions for projects like the reform. judicial or extraordinary income tax.

He responded by the same means Leopoldo Moreau, a radical of the Frente de Todos, very close to the Kirchnerista Patria Institute. “They want to avoid the debates, they did not digest that they lost the election”, he pointed out. And he added that “Congress is fully authorized to operate remotely” and that “there is no other bloc besides Juntos pela Mudança that does not want to work”. He then anticipated that the governing party will seek to form a quorum and majority with the support of other political forces that represent dissident Peronism, governors and the left.

The next two weeks would be decisive. In the government there is peace of mind that the Massa-Kirchner tandem will be able to unlock the opposition’s brake, or add other allies, while Juntos pela Mudança resists, seeks a brake and would only accept analyzing a remote debate in the event of a governance-related emergency, but not judicial reform “because it is not a priority issue”.

Already in the Senate, this afternoon there will be a meeting of the PRO block in which Schiavoni should tell the details of the zoom of the party table that took place yesterday. The UCR has not yet met. Before, starting at 2:00 pm, the legislators of Juntos pela Mudança will participate in the plenary of the committees on Constitutional Affairs and Justice and Penal Legislation. In the previous one, there were conversations again between the chairman of the chief committee, Maria de los angeles sacnun, and the head of the opposite interblock, Naidenoff.

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For its part, Laura Rodriguez Machado (PRO), vice president of the Constitutional Affairs committee, presented a note to keep an error and add a name that they had forgotten in the list of exhibitors proposed by the coalition. The specialist was accepted. It’s about Carlos Balbin, academic, judge and ex-attorney of the Treasury. Although Rodríguez Machado accompanied the letter with a resume, it is known: in 2016 he determined that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner could not receive two pensions, one as a former president and the other as a widow of a former head of state, while in 2017 he was obliged to resign just when he had just signed an opinion against Mauricio Macri in the case of Correio Argentino.

Former Finance Attorney Carlos Balbín was called by the opposition to talk about judicial reform
Former Finance Attorney Carlos Balbín was called by the opposition to talk about judicial reform

Balbín, like other important exhibitors, including ex-judge Eugenio Zaffaroni, will participate in the next hearings. For the second time, the presentation of Cristina Fernández’s lawyer and ex-judge friend was postponed. Perhaps they will be called on Thursday, which in the original plans was the last day of lectures.

This afternoon the proportions will be reversed: seven figures proposed by the Frente de Todos and three by the opposition will participate, while last Thursday there were two from the ruling party and five from Juntos pela Mudança. Today the list is headed by Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity; the constitutionalist Andrés Gil Domínguez, one of the twelve members of the Advisory Council that will assess the future of the Supreme Federal Court at the request of the President; Stella Maris Martinez, General Defender of the Nation; Paulta Litvachky, Executive Director of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), chaired by Horacio Verbitsky; Jorge Rizzo, former president of the Bar Association and reference of the Gente de Derecho group; and two promoters (as they appear in feminine in the invitation): Monica Cuñarro, criminal prosecutor and Gabriela Baigún The federal prosecutor of Comodoro Py who stated that “freedom in the process is not equal to impunity”, when a year ago he declared in favor of the release of Carlos Zannini and Luis D’Elía.

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For the opposition they will participate Carlos Rívolo, President of the Association of Prosecutors and Officials of the Public Ministry of the Nation (AFFUN) and Federal Criminal and Correctional Prosecutor of the City of Buenos Aires; Alejandro Fargosi, of the Bar Association of the City of Buenos Aires since 1978 and former Counselor of the Judiciary and Canton Fernando Diaz, President of the Institute of Legislative Studies (IDEL) of the Argentine Federation of Bar Associations (FACA).

At the first meeting, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights Marcela losardo defended the initiative and with several senators as Jose Mayans and Anabel Fernandez Sagasti, president and vice of the bloc, and as Sacnun and Parrilli later did, they tried to be open to making changes. The Chief of Staff also did this yesterday, Santiago CafieroAlthough there is an internal debate in the ruling party: why make changes if the opposition already anticipates that it will vote against or even not have deputies to make the debate possible, at least remotely.

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