Last week, during a conference she gave at the headquarters of Sadop, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner criticized the recent and highly controversial Supreme Court ruling to reduce sentences for crimes against humanity, which has introduced the use of the “two for one” sentencing reduction. In the last couple of days, during her trip to Europe, the former president has returned to the subject with some pretty weighty claims.
As a reminder, the so-called “2×1” procedural law is a benefit that could effectively reduce the sentence of hundreds of prisoners convicted for dictatorship-era crimes against humanity by subtracting the time inmates spend in pre-emptive detention without a firm ruling (multiplied by two) from their subsequent sentence. The benefit has raised concerns that more human rights repressors could take advantage of the precedent set by the measure, and Cristina is far from alone in weighing in on the matter.
On Monday morning, the Supreme Court ruling was a talking point during Cristina’s meeting in Athens with the current Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, Nikos Vouptsis. “This ruling has taken us back in time by twenty years,” she claimed. “More than 700 repressors who are serving sentences for forced disappearances of people and torture could be released because of this ruling, which violates our Constitution, international treaties and previous legal precedence.”
“Our country, ever since the process of Memory, Truth and Justice started, became an example with respect to human rights. Now, the human rights organizations are going to do a march, but international public opinion should also reflect what is going on,” she continued.
During the meeting, Vouptsis gave the former Argentine president a decoration bearing the image of Pericles and the Greek Parliament’s diploma of honor, and spoke warmly of Argentine-Greek relations: “our people have had close relations for decades in everything they do for democracy.” He recalled that years ago, in 1978, he himself had “demonstrated in front of the Hilton hotel alongside some wearing military dress and others in football jerseys, all showing our solidarity with the Argentine people.”
Similar sentiments were expressed during Cristina’s meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the same morning. “We are following the events in Latin America very closely,” he said and added that “although they are many kilometers away, we feel that we have a similar mentality and we follow their ventures and their achievements attentively.” The leftist leader also stressed that his country “is going through difficult days too, but we are on the path to overcoming the first challenges.”
Later in the day, Cristina touched on her preoccupations with Argentina’s current political landscape once again as she spoke in front of an audience of over 800 in the Athens Concert Hall, during a conference entitled “Capitalism and Neoliberalism – The democratic crisis – The South American experience.” During her one and a half hour speech at the event organized by the ruling Greek coalition Syriza, the former president posed the question of “why there is a neo-liberal government in my country today” and gave her own take on why her party was defeated by Mauricio Macri, the current president.
“What happened was that many processes that we carried out were not understood. We could not make the whole society aware that, in fact, its better economic position was part of that process. And those twenty-somethings who went to work in the factories believed that it was through their own merit,” she submitted. “To this [lack of understanding] was added this new ideology or neoliberal political system, which is a model aimed at breaking the bonds of solidarity in society and making people believe that what they have or do not have is not because they have a right but rather due to their own merit.”
Today, upon her arrival in her second European stop-off, Brussels, Cristina took her criticisms a step further. Returning to the subject of the “two for one” benefit, while in dialogue with channel C5N, she raised her suspicions that the current Government “definitely had something to do with” the ruling and rejected the possibility that it was an “independent decision”.
“Nowadays, the only things independent in Argentina are the kings of Spain,” she remarked, claiming that the Argentine Justice Department is now “totally aligned with the Executive Administration” and acts on “decisions from the government”.
“I have always maintained and still do that human rights are not left-wing or right. I believe that defending democracy is not only something for human rights organizations, which are a great support, but for society as a whole. I cannot entertain the thought that the people who have raped, tortured or disappeared others could walk through our streets or that there are people who support that,” explained Cristina from Brussels. “It’s a good thing for everyone if we live in a country where those who commit genocide aren’t walking along the streets.”
The former president also took the opportunity to more explicitly link Macri’s circle to the courts. She pointed out that two of the three judges who voted in favour of the use of the “two for one” benefit, Horacio Rosatti and Carlos Rosenkrantz, were appointed during the Cambiemos government and that the administration did not appeal Elenga Highton de Nolasco’s request to continue working after reaching 75 years of age, which is the cut-off age outlined in the Constitution.
Later this morning, speaking at the European Parliament, Cristina called the Court of Justice “a repressive instrument of the opposition” and also put forward her opinion that Macri has an illegitimate claim to the office of president by, during his election campaign, promising that he would not apply policies that he is now going to apply. “A neoliberal government that arrived through electoral fraud with a media machine that only talks about us,” she described.
Cristina’s comments today coincide with huge manifestations against the 2×1 ruling, which are due to take place at Plaza de Mayo this afternoon.