After the government decreed that it would take over both the Federal Bureau of Audiovisual Communication Services (AFSCA) and the Federal Bureau of Information Technology and Communications (AFTIC) for 180 days, AFSCA head Martín Sabbatella has shut himself away in his office, surrounded by Kirchnerite supporters.
“I’ll be in my office waiting for what the Judicial Power says.”
On being notified of his removal via decree from his role as head of AFSCA, a national media watchdog, Sabbatella held an improvised press conference at midday today along with the AFTIC head Norberto Berner to announce that they weren’t planning on obeying the new government’s orders.
Sabbatella has told the media that two charges have been presented against the government: a legal measure that asks the judge to declare the government take over as unconstitutional and a habeas corpus to guarantee the “freedom of movement” of AFSCA employees. The second charge is a response to Federal Police cordoning off the area and allegedly stopping employees from going into work: although given that Sabbatella had no issue walking in, the veracity of these claims is not entirely clear.
Sabbatella has also been in touch with Communications Minister Oscar Aguad, but apparently no agreement has been reached.
“I told him that we didn’t agree [with the measure], that we think that what they’re doing is barbaric and an assault. The law is very clear, you cannot strip an independent organization created under a democratic law of its powers.”
He also allegedly told Aguad that “If you don’t like the law, you have to go to Congress to discuss it.” You tell ’em, Sabbatella!
— Gonzalo Seoane (@GonzaloSeoane) December 23, 2015
Aguad announced this morning that the government was set to take over the organizations for 180 days because the organizations were not respecting the new Ministerial Law, which was ratified a couple of weeks ago via an Emergency Decree (DNU). The main reason why the government is pressuring Sabbatella to step down is because of his loyalty towards the Victory Front (FpV) of the former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
There have already been two protests against Macri over his intent to change the Media Law: now leaders and supporters of the FpV are protesting outside the AFSCA building. The leader of the FpV Deputies in Congress Héctor Recalde, former minister of Economy Axel Kicillof and Hebe de Bonafini (one of the founders and leaders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) are among those who have congregated to Sabbatella’s workplace in support of his plight.
“We will continue to fulfill our duties normally,” said Sabbatella. His definition of normal is up for interpretation, but you know what he meant.
Why is everyone getting so wound up about possible changes to the Media Law? Click here for an article explaining what’s been going down.