November 23, 2014
End of the beginning
With Vice-President Amado Boudou still testifying at the time this editorial was written, it is impossible to draw any conclusions about the legal proceedings — as should continue to be the case once he finishes unless the confidentiality stipulated by the law is breached (which Boudou himself sought to achieve with his theatrical bid to convert his court appearance into a televised show and which would probably help his parallel drive to crush the whole case against him). What can be said with certainty is that Boudou did indeed show up yesterday morning instead of defying Judge Ariel Lijo (either by denying his presence or by going to the courtroom and then refusing to testify) or offering his testimony only in written form. Yet this mere fact of Boudou respecting a court summons indicates a huge change from this time last year — even if some media insisted on presenting the remote but then still extant possibility of a third term for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as the main issue, the most concrete institutional danger at that time was the reform package presented 15 months ago to steamroller the judicial branch. The respect shown for justice yesterday by the second most important member of the executive branch demonstrates that Argentine democracy is alive and well, banishing the fears of recent years.
Until more hard information emerges on what happened yesterday, perhaps one of the biggest unknowns is to what degree this case is about the Ciccone money-printing company allegedly acquired by Boudou via proxies in a blatant conflict of interest and how much is about Boudou himself. For over two years this whole investigation has invariably been dubbed “the Ciccone case” by the media but there are also various parallel charges of embezzlement and influence-peddling against the veep (even including the registration of an old Honda car more than 20 years old) — it would thus be interesting to learn how much time Boudou spent yesterday testifying about Ciccone and how much about himself. In the latter case the big question would then become whether Boudou would be content to remain alone in the firing-line or whether he would take others down with him — and whether those others would be limited to business associates or extend to his government colleagues.
After over two years of constant media bombardment, it is easy to forget that yesterday was the first day of the Boudou/Ciccone case in serious legal terms. The first day but very far from the last word.