November 23, 2014
Let justice prevail
The court summons of Vice-President Amado Boudou for next month is not only the correct path for the country as a whole but could even be presented as doing him a favour by finally giving him full freedom to defend himself (as implied by Lower House Majority Leader Juliana Di Tullio) — it is the only way to clarify suspicion in a democracy which respects the separation of powers. There have been too many scandals in recent years invariably aired by the media, which could be extremely worrying for the health of the institutions (and also of the press). It is thus high time that the responsibilities in this case be clarified in the right place — an open courtroom away from the murmur of off-the-record statements, the insinuations of conspiracy theories and the one-sided interviews either aiming at aggressively convicting Boudou without trial or complacently letting him off the hook.
What is beyond all doubt is that Boudou has some explaining to do because there are far too many loose ends concerning both the sale of the Ciccone mint firm and the company he keeps. Indeed the vice-president himself has long been hinting that he would like to give a full explanation without the constraints of his office — something only possible in a courtroom unless he bows to the opposition pressures to resign or request leave, (a standard with extremely grave implications across the political spectrum as a whole). Boudou is the first Argentine vice-president ever to be summoned to court but it would be very surprising if he were the only one in history who warranted a summons to explain his actions in office — in that sense the Boudou summons could be read as an encouraging sign of progress in Argentine democracy. While the courtroom is the best possible venue, it would be naive to believe that the decisions of justice are always clinically pure but if anybody has any well-grounded suspicions about the motives of Judge Ariel Lijo, the best place to air them is in court. In this regard, at least one prosecutor and some judges apparently believed that Lijo was trying to benefit the original Ciccone owners of the printing companies, dubious members of the old “contractual fatherland” who seem to have had a sudden attack of honesty. Nevertheless, the judge last week recategorized the Ciccones from witnesses to suspects — another sign that some institutions at least could be working.
Only time will tell if Boudou is victim of a plot for having disturbed powerful economic interests (as he argues) or if he — or some of his associates operating in his name —is guilty as charged of conflict of interest in taking over a company providing state services which he himself would control. Or a bit of all these possibilities. Until then we have no choice but to trust justice.