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Argentine Political Outlook (Mar-27-18) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Mar-27-18 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. According to the ruling party, the court has taken adverse positions in recent days. The question is whether these are isolated actions or a change in the trend. On March 16, court room I of the Federal Chamber, with the votes of judges Farah and Ballesteros, set Cristóbal López and his partner Fabián De Souza free, changing the title of the lawsuit to their favor; the federal justice freed Zannini and D'Elía in the case for the memorandum with Iran; a court in contentious-administrative matters declared a Macri emergency decree as unconstitutional because it sets a limit on immigration; a decision of the Supreme Court declared null the integration of the Oral Court Number 9, dominated by the ruling party in which Cristina was going to be tried, as the case will be raffled again. The government estimates that in the next few days Báez and Parrilli could be released from prison, and Carrió denounced that the release of De Vido was in the plans. The speed of the releases resembles the synchronicity with which they were issued towards the end of last year. Following criticism from the government, the Court reacted by asking the Magistrates’ Council to investigate the two aforementioned judges and ordered that the patrimony of one of them be investigated (Ballesteros). The ruling party speaks of a corporate reaction of the federal justice to protect itself from an eventual renewal, even from a maneuver of Kirchnerism with it to weaken and condition the government.

2. The reality is that the Judiciary -like Peronism- perceives that a change of government is not impossible and begins to take some distance from the ruling party, weakening the alignment with it. The aforementioned decision of the Court, to investigate the judges who freed Cristóbal López, such as the one who acquitted Macri in the case of the Memorandum with Katar on the same day that they ruled in favor of the business executive, showed an attempt to "compensate" the decisions against the government. But at the same time, previous issues underlie. The SIGEN had already denounced irregularities in the drawings of allocation of cases in the justice system; the former head of the Amia Unit (Cimadevilla), with the support of Carrió, accused the Minister of Justice (Garavano) of covering up those accused of covering up the AMIA case and the release of Cristina's wiretaps that were in the hands of Judge Lijo, has raised doubts about the appointment of the judge elected to run such office (Irurzun), a situation that led the Court to ask Congress to investigate the leaks. The reality is that the President of the Court (Lorenzetti) tries to get a balance in this complex situation. Macri attempt to take up the initiative criticizing the system for the releases, suspending his project to expand the Council of Magistrates and proposing the appointment of his candidate for the Prosecutor’s Office (Weimberg de Roca), whose appointment will require negotiations in parliament.

3. The commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the last coup d'état showed that the "hard opposition bloc", which marched against the government on February 21, has consolidated. Until the first year of Macri's government, there were three separate events: leftist parties on the one hand, human rights organizations on the other and Kirchnerism with militant trade unions and social movements. The three sectors marched together this time, and with opposition political leaders. Individuals such as the former president of the Buenos Aires PJ (Espinoza) were present and Zannini and D'Elía -who called again to end the Macri Administration- faced a standing ovation upon their arrival, after his recent release. Although Macri spoke for the first time against "state terrorism", the fact that important members of the PRO expressed by Twitter their position of "free genocides never again" and that Vidal handed over a former detention center to the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo (Carlotto), made the celebration in Plaza de Mayo show a markedly opposing bias. Mrs. Carlotto herself questioned the "terrible group that governs us", and the document from human rights organizations claimed the "regression and trivialization of terror" in Macri's human rights policy. Chants and posters were contrary to the government. The next day, in another massive march, the sectors that oppose the decriminalization of abortion marched in the City of Buenos Aires. Both among those who oppose the interpretation that rights organizations make on the violence of the seventies and among those who are against abortion, PRO voters prevail. With his shift to "progressivism" in the two matters, Macri is opening a crack among his own voters, which is already evident in the low activity of his supporters in social media.

4. Meanwhile Peronism continues taking steps in pursuit of its unity, although disordered and sometimes confusing. Massa and Randazzo met for the second time in two weeks, advancing in a common strategy to neutralize Cristina in the process of reorganizing the PJ. The former head of Buenos Aires Peronism (Espinoza) called to change attitudes to "beat Macri and Vidal." The National Council of the PJ presided over by Gioja, met on March 22 and called on all sectors of the party to return to him. The governor of Salta (Urtubey) received the adhesion to his candidacy from his colleague from Tierra del Fuego (Bertone), after a tour that included meetings with the governors of San Juan (Uñac) and Entre Ríos (Bordet). The governor of Salta said that there are "hard sectors" that continue to think about Cristina and regarding the release of Zannini and D'Elía, he said "maybe they should have never been imprisoned". Just as Senator Pichetto is currently inclined to consensus on the agreement for Macri’s candidate for the office of Attorney, the same thing does not happen with the opposition as a whole as regards the appearance in the Congress of the Minister of Finance (Caputo) for his offshore companies, which was postponed until April 4. As to the relationship with the British Consulting firm “Cambridge Analytica”, which manipulated Facebook data to influence elections, including that of Argentina 2015, the investigation moves faster in the US and the UK than in our country.

5. To conclude:

a) A set of court rulings against the government’s decisions or intentions lead to thinking that there’s a corporate defense to prevent changes or an opposition merge with Kirchnerism.

b) The truth is that in view of a change in the political context which is not favorable for the ruling coalition, the Argentine justice begins to take some distance, as has always happened for the past four decades.

c) The commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the last military coup consolidated the “hard opposition” bloc, strongly questioning the government despite its “progressive” shift on abortion and human rights.

d) Peronism keeps on taking disordered steps towards unity, as the agreement between Massa and Randazzo and the moves by Urtubey have been the most important actions in recent days.

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