Wednesday
July 26, 2017
Friday, July 14, 2017

A tale of two vendette

For more than a year parallels have been drawn between Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López and Jujuy social activist Milagro Sala as political prisoners under two governments of contrasting ideologies — now that López has been granted house arrest on medical grounds (even though he appears the picture of health) while Sala continues to languish in jail, the comparison now switches to the attorneys general of the two countries, Alejandra Gils Carbó and Luisa Ortega. The common ground between both women is being under intense pressure from the current governments after being appointed by previous presidencies even if the contexts are drastically different — while Ortega openly clashes with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over the latter’s plans to rewrite the Constitution drafted by his alleged mentor Hugo Chávez and over his repression of the protest marches (where pro-government forces must take responsibility for at least some and probably most of the 90-100 deaths in recent months, even if not all as widely reported), the Mauricio Macri administration’s guerrilla warfare against Gils Carbó has been far more underhand although now becoming increasingly explicit.

The nominal grounds for the case against Gils Carbó — the 2013 purchase of an office building whereby the brother of a member of her staff picked up a three-million-peso commission even if the attorney general suspended that person for precisely that reason earlier this year — are less important than the government’s underlying motives, which are that she must be replaced as alledgedly fervent Kirchnerite who devotes all her energies to maximising scandals involving Macri while sidestepping those of the previous government. Yet if Macri’s intention is to oust Gils Carbó for crassly politicising justice, he is throwing stones from a glass house — it is very difficult to find any common denominator between the cases recently lodged or now coming to trial against former Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido, former vice-president Amado Boudou, Afsca ex-watchdog Martín Sabbatella, leading Civic Unity Lower House candidate Fernanda Vallejos and Entre Ríos ex-governor Sergio Urribarri among others for irregularities on very different scales (not to mention the disqualification of Senator Ruperto Godoy from the Magistrates Council) as anything other than a legal offensive against Kirchnerism. While all the above are innocent until proven guilty, this is not to say that this innocence would always survive a full investigation and that this is all a purely political persecution but the indiscriminate and often illegal nature of these dubiously constitutional attacks would go a long way towards supporting such bogus claims.

When former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sought to advance executive control of the judiciary, she at least submitted a reform package to the other two branches but no such niceties from a government allegedly committed to institutional restoration as it takes full advantage of courts already permeable to political influence to throw its weight around.

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