December 22, 2014
Government garners congressional support
Kicillof, Zannini and Capitanich meet with caucus leaders to outline strategy in New York
The government yesterday began early in the morning to garner the support for its response to the US Supreme Court decision not to take up its appeal in its long-running case against holdout bond holders.
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof and Legal and Technical Secretary Carlos Zannini went to Congress yesterday and met with caucus leaders in a closed-door session. When they emerged more than two hours later, it was clear the government had managed to get the vast majority of opposition parties with Congressional representation to support the country’s stance which had been outlined a day earlier by Kicillof.
However, the details of what the strategy would be remained scarce and many caucuses complained that the visit did not provide more details than what had already been unveiled by Kicillof on Tuesday and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Monday evening during a nationwide broadcast.
Nonetheless, the Executive’s representatives did indicate that there would be an effort to engage in dialogue with Judge Thomas Griesa’s courtroom in the United States and that the government would prioritize the protection of the terms agreed to by the 92 percent of bondholders who accepted debt swaps in 2005 and 2010.
After the closed-door session Capitanich said that “many have questioned the very origins and the legitimacy of the debt and even the negotiation strategy employed until now, but there is consensus in denouncing the attitude from the vulture funds thus far but that the conditions are right to back the Argentine position unequivocally.”
The Cabinet chief also said that “we cannot at this time announce the nature of the strategy” because of the impending discussions with Griesa.
It is understood that a similar approach was taken behind closed doors, as the meeting took place ahead of the decision to lift the stay that had benefited Argentina and was in session when word came of the meeting called by Judge Griesa involving the legal representatives of the parties involved in the case.
The PRO, Broad Front-UNEN and Renewal Front (FR) caucuses all expressed their support following the meeting and a UCR source confirmed that the party viewed with positive eyes that the Executive would seek dialogue with Griesa.
The session was attended by the presidents of all of the Senate blocs and the heads of the various caucuses in the Lower House, who were granted an opportunity to ask questions following a presentation by Kicillof.
Nonetheless, in a signal of the importance of the matter before Congress the rule was not strictly enforced and Aníbal Fernández, Ernesto Sanz and Julio Cobos and many others — who have high profiles but do not lead their respective parties in Congress — also participated in the closed-door session.
A congressional source told the Herald that the session was behind close doors but not secret “to avoid a media circus.”
However, UNEN Senator Fernando “Pino” Solanas and Renewal Front lawmakers took advantage of the assembled media to make statements amid chaotic scenes, even before the visiting officials had even finished speaking.
Darío Giustozzi and Graciela Camaño of the Renewal Front spoke of their willingness to “participate in discussions based on consensus” while also presenting a bill authored by the party’s leader, Sergio Massa, that stipulates the creation of a bicameral committee to oversee debt matters.
Meanwhile, Solanas’ criticisms about the lack of a proper audit of the debt initially unsettled Radical party (UCR) staffers present outside of the closed session and Senator Ernesto Sanz attempted to downplay the comments while also vowing that the Front “would be part of any kind of prudent and serious approach to the problem that benefited Argentina.”
Left-wing parties denounced that the meeting was held behind closed doors and urged a popular referendum on the matter to “resolve this matter of crucial importance to national sovereignty.”
Vice-President Amado Boudou, who is also president of the Senate, was replaced by provisional Senate president Gerardo Zamora during the proceedings. Although no official explanation was given, a Victory Front (FpV) and an opposition source both agreed that it should be seen as a minor issue compared to that of the much more important events taking place in New York and had no political significance.