A La Jornada Editorial
An Argentine court sentenced Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to six years in prison and disqualified her “in perpetuity” from holding public office in a case of defrauding the State for the alleged irregular award of 51 road works carried out in the province of Santa Cruz between 2003 and 2015, when Fernández was first lady (2003-2007) and president (2007-2015), A ruling that will surely be appealed and whose final outcome may take years.
In the immediate term, the political motivations and procedural cleanliness of the sentence are rude and unconcealable. From the outset, the so-called “road cause” violates the principle of not judging the same crime twice, since in 2015 it was prosecuted and dismissed by the same judge who years later, with the arrival of the ultra-neoliberal Mauricio Macri to power (2015-2019), decided to reopen it. In addition, as the defendant has pointed out for years, the prosecution did not present a single piece of evidence linking it to the contracts in question, and it cannot even be attributed administrative responsibility in the awarding of the works, since legally this falls not on the head of the Executive, but on his chief of staff. Regarding the approval of the budget, it is the power of Congress.
To the grotesque distortions of justice in this particular case are added the well-known right-wing political leanings of the Argentine Judiciary, the inability of a large part of its representatives to separate their ideologies and group interests from their judicial work and the absolute lack of dissimulation with which they operate in favor of de facto powers and characters of Macrismo.
Just in October, a meeting of judges, prosecutors (some of them involved in the trial against Cristina Fernández) and officials of the Macri government of Buenos Aires was unveiled at the estate of a British billionaire in the tourist mecca of Bariloche. This revelation was shamefully silenced by the mass media, whose maximum exponent, Grupo Clarín, is the greatest promoter of lynching against Kirchnerism since almost two decades ago, this movement tried to end the neoliberal looting that plunged the country into the greatest crisis in its history.
For all these reasons, Cristina Fernández refers to the corrupt structure of courts and prosecutors’ offices as a “judicial party,” that is, “a parastatal system that decides on the whole of Argentines outside the electoral results.” The mechanism to which the Peronist leader alludes, lawfare (use of judicial and legislative machinations to depose leaders uncomfortable to the interests of the oligarchies), has become the contemporary substitute for the coup d’états perpetrated by the right in the last century. It has already caused the illegal expulsion of Fernando Lugo in Paraguay and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, and is now being applied more and more aggressively to bring down Pedro Castillo in Peru. In Mexico there is a double precedent of the attempt to remove the immunity of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2005 and the judicial validation of the electoral fraud committed to impose Felipe Calderón in the Presidency in 2006.
Although the conviction against Fernández de Kirchner can be challenged and the process is expected to take years, the sentence issued yesterday constitutes irrefutable confirmation that the Argentine oligarchy has no ethical or legal scruples in the effort to impose its interests, and is willing to derail transformation projects by any means, however moderate. A trait it shares with the right wing in much of the world.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, December 7, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/12/07/opinion/002a1edi and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee