Lhe political relationship between the President and the Vice President is not good. The tumultuous day of farewell to Diego Maradona confirmed it. Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner only exchanged a few words and then each one headed for a different place in the Casa Rosada. He went up to the presidential office and she took refuge in the offices of the Ministry of the Interior. The bridge between the two was laid by Wado de Pedro, going from one side to the other in the convulsed seat of government.
The head of the political portfolio witnessed the tense telephone dialogue between the Minister of Security, Sabina Frederic, and the Buenos Aires deputy chief Diego Santilli – in charge of the City Police – which President Fernández also heard. But the decision to publicly hold Horacio Rodríguez Larreta’s management responsible – through a tweet – had Cristina’s political stamp, as did the judicial complaint from the Human Rights Secretariat, led by Kirchner Pietragalla.
The failure of the joint operation transcended national borders, as it was the funeral of a global icon like Maradona. Regardless of the explanations that Frederic and Santilli gave, the truth is that an aroused crowd was about to pounce on Diego’s coffin and put the integrity of his family at risk. Faced with so much lack of control and inexperience, only the Military House –which ensures security at La Rosada- seemed to be up to the task.
As this chronicler was able to verify in the Government House, in the middle of a cloud of pepper spray that entered through Balcarce 50, there was an element that the authorities did not take into account: the composition of the soccer public, which includes the “barrabravas” as part of the usual club scene. The Maradona family itself enabled the entry of Rafael Di Zeo, a historic Boca bar. And another Xeneize faction took over the Patio de las Palmeras at the time of greatest tension.
WHAT IS NOT CLEARED UPON ENTRY …
The President and his collaborators made, in turn, an error that was decisive: they did not clarify to Claudia Villafañe that the transfer of the Casa Rosada implied that the funeral had to be held for at least two days, given the call of the star. The closed refusal of Maradona’s ex-wife to give continuity to the ceremony could not be subdued by Cristina either, not even on the grounds of her personal experience in the case of Néstor Kirchner.
The Vice President had to leave through the Bicentennial Museum, practically the back door that overlooks Paseo Colón avenue. For that Thursday a session of the Senate was summoned which – due to circumstances – was postponed to Friday. In the midst of the national duel decreed by Fernández, the upper house approved a reform to the law of the Public Prosecutor’s Office that will allow the ruling party to appoint the new attorney without the votes of the opposition.
But that is already due for fact. The novelty of the project consists of the broad powers granted to a Bicameral Commission of Congress to cover the “vacancy” of the attorney, which in fact will allow the ruling party to displace the interim attorney Eduardo Casal -in charge of the MPF since 2017 after the resignation of Alejandra Gils Carbó- and also review the actions of the prosecutors in the middle of a process. Thus, it consecrates the interference of the political power over the judicial one.
The question that everyone asks
The advance of the ruling party in the Senate opens a new chapter in the relationship between Cristina and Alberto Fernández. What would happen if, instead of appointing Judge Daniel Rafecas, Kirchnerism proposes another candidate for the Attorney General? Now the name of Oscar Parrilli, Vice’s right hand man, has once again circulated as one of those interested in occupying that position. This political-judicial scaffolding has a clear precedent: Carlos Zannini, the head of the state attorneys.
The opposition nucleated in Together for Change looks powerless in the Senate. Beyond some intersection with Cristina that allows media coverage, the truth is that at the moment of truth loses all the important votes. The Vice President consolidated an unusual power with the help of allies such as Alberto Weretilneck, from Rio Negro, former governor and author of the MPF reform project, which would allow her to condition, if necessary, the policies of President Fernández.
To show there is a button: tomorrow the Senate will discuss, in the last session of the regular period of this year, a Debt Law sent by the Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, to show to the International Monetary Fund that the Government has the support of Congress in the ongoing negotiation. Kirchnerism added to the initiative an article that indicates that the State will not be able to use the debt – even with the IMF – for current expenses.
THE FIGHT WITH LARRETA
The week that begins will, however, have the focus on the Chamber of Deputies. Tomorrow there will be a special session in which the withdrawal of co-participation funds from the city of Buenos Aires will be sanctioned and the financing of security for the federal district will be limited to 24,500 million pesos annually. The political tandem that President Fernández and Mayor Larreta had assembled at the beginning of the pandemic is already part of the memory.
That understanding, which differentiated Fernández from Cristina and also Larreta from Mauricio Macri, succumbed when the President did not have the necessary political back to endure a policy of moderation and coexistence with an opposition leader. While the mayor of Buenos Aires is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his style reluctant to confrontation, without being questioned by sectors of JxC. The sizzle from the paper at Maradona’s farewell further clouded the relationship.
MORE “GREEN” THAN “CELESTIAL”
In the Chamber of Deputies, the political debate of the week will go through the bill to legalize abortion. Starting Tuesday, a plenary of four commissions will discuss the initiative in a mix of remote and face-to-face formats. A total of 50 exhibitors will take turns to give their point of view – solomonically divided between “green” and “light blue” – and it is expected that a majority opinion will be issued on Friday, which will take the initiative to the venue by December 10.
According to forecasts, abortion supporters outnumber those who oppose the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (IVE) project, although there are still about 25 who did not anticipate the meaning of their vote and there are some peculiar cases such as that of Corrientes Sofía Brambilla (PRO), who in 2018 voted in favor and now will do so against. In parallel, the “Thousand Days” project, conceived by the Government as a gesture to the Catholic and Evangelical churches, will be debated.
Both initiatives will be included by President Fernández in the decree calling for extraordinary sessions of Congress, which will cover at least the entire month of December. In the Casa Rosada they affirm that the list of issues is handled exclusively by the Head of State and the Legal and Technical Secretary, Vilma Ibarra. And that the call to extraordinary – an exclusive power of the Executive Power – will be framed in a gesture of authority within the ruling coalition.
THE SETTING NOT RECOGNIZED
Although the Government also needs to ensure the approval of projects such as the one that changes the formula for calculating pensions, which has already been sent to the Senate and which will mean a reduction in public spending in 2021, in line with the negotiations underway with the IMF to reduce the fiscal deficit. To such an extent, that yesterday it clarified through an ANSES statement that the 5 percent increase announced for December will be taken into account of the increase of next March.
The state coffers are exhausted. The coronavirus pandemic, which is subsiding although the threat of a second wave is still latent, has exhausted them. The increase in the tax burden appears, in this context, as foreseeable as it is harmful to the essential economic recovery. In the midst of these contradictions, the Government navigates, while the President and the Vice President issue – contrary to declarations of “unity” – signals that pay for the uncertainty.