Now that Cristina officially inaugurated the legislative year on Sunday, it was time for the Judiciary to do the same thing today.
When the President mockingly referred to the Judiciary as the “Judicial Party” during her speech – in front of Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti himself – implying that the Judiciary is more a political entity than a nonpartisan one, the stage was set to see if Lorenzetti would take the bait.
First, he showed a video “of victims and tragedies”, as Lorenzetti put it. Of course, Nisman was included: It was a tribute to the late federal prosecutor.
After that came some responses to Cristina’s recent criticisms of the judiciary. “Judges do not govern”, said Lorenzetti. “Judicial power has to check the other powers, and that includes the Government’s actions”.
He later made a more direct reference to the President. Remember when the President said in her last Cadena Nacional that the Supreme Court never ruled on the Israel Embassy bombing on 1992? Lorenzetti corrected her: “There was a ruling in 1999, long before the formation of the current court. That sentence determined the materiality of the facts and the responsible party”, he stated, reminding everyone that Hezbollah was the responsible. “It is res judicata”, a closed case, he firmly stated.
So was this an aggressive move or did his speech have a conciliatory tone? With Lorenzetti, it’s hard to say: Although the government has taken a very critical stance against the judiciary, the President of the Supreme Court is a measured man. His rhetoric swings from academic to political in a matter of sentences.
A prominent legal academic, he quotes philosophers and contemporary thinkers such as John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and Martha Nussbaum, sometimes wisely hiding his criticisms of government among their theories.
Even if his tone remains measured, this is undoubtedly going to be another contentious year between the Executive branch and the judiciary. Kirchernites are implicated in dozens of court cases involving senior officials. Vice President Amado Boudou (indicted in the Ciccone case) is just the tip of an iceberg that runs very deep. Ministers Julio de Vido (urban planning), Julio Alak (security), Héctor Timerman (foreign relations), members of La Cámpora Mariano Recalde (CEO of Aerolíneas Argentinas) and Andrés Larroque (congressman), Army Leader César Milani and ex-officials Guillermo Moreno, Ricardo Jaime and Juan Pablo Schiavi are all being investigated, and some already indicted, by the judiciary.
This is what really concerns Cristina: 2015 is not only an election year, but also the year she could see half of her cabinet thrown in jail. We’ll see how many rounds this fight goes.
UPDATE: This morning, Aníbal Fernández refuted Lorenzetti’s claim that there was a ruling in 1999 regarding the Israeli Embassy case. “[Lorenzetti] is incorrect” in the matter, he said.