It was just a joke.
That’s what National Deputy Elisa Carrió said after she requested President Macri to remove Justice Minister Germán Garavano yesterday morning. This fallback, uncommon for the firebrand deputy, seemed to suggest that the Casa Rosada had determined that Carrió had finally gone too far and had decided to push back against yet another controversial statement that could have been interpreted (and in fact was) as an attempt to undermine the President’s authority.
Ministers of Education and Social Development Alejandro Finocchiaro and Carolina Stanley came out to rebuke Carrió’s statements. “Since the day he took office, the President has been fighting against impunity and corruption. No one has to condition the President of the Republic,” Finnocchario said.
“The President is the main engine in the fight against corruption and the person who has done the most for transparency in our country. This party has been working toward transparency and will continue doing so, with him at the helm,” added Stanley. Nonetheless, the Education Minister highlighted the existence of dissent within the coalition, marking a contrast with the Kirchner administration where, he said, “there was only one voice which did nothing but give orders.”
However, there are still chances the clash has not been completely buried, but only delayed for a few days. Carrió did apologize for “the way she expressed herself and the joke,” but ratified her intention of requesting Garavano’s impeachment and indicated she will only postpone doing so for “a couple of days,” “in order to calm down the situation.”
Carrió was set to file her request tomorrow and had a draft ready. Signed by the entire Coalición Cívica caucus – the party she leads, one of the three that make up the Cambiemos coalition – the document lists three main reasons why, in their eyes, Garavano should be impeached:
- His statements about the “negative side” of having presidents in pre-trial arrest: “[By making that statement, Garavano] was not only meddling with the competence of the Judiciary and Congress by disagreeing with the legal requirements regarding the procedural situation of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the request to have her congressional immunity stripped, but has also created reasonable fear about potential meddling in the final decision,” the draft said, according to Perfil.
2. His perceived meddling in the case investigating the covering-up of the 1994 AMIA attack: Carrió believes Garavano replaced key officials in the prosecutors department investigating the AMIA case, representing the government as plaintiff in the case, to let two prosecutors off the hook after they were accused of willingly failing to investigate a significant lead in the case.
Carrió bases her argument in the fact that the plaintiff requested their acquittal in February, when four months before, with the previous officials in office, it had requested they be sentenced to eight years. As a result of the decision, Carrió supported an accusation presented by family members of the attack’s victims against the government before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
The request claims “Garavano was behind an open defense of the prosecutors, even making an official decision aimed at helping their procedural situation. The Minister’s intervention was clumsy, evident, inexplicable.”
3. A controversial hiring: this year, the Justice Ministry hired former Province of Buenos Aires government Attorney Chief María Del Carmen Falbo shortly after she left her post due to her imminent removal, a result of poor performance and covering up crimes tied to drug-trafficking rings.
The draft concludes: “As we said at the beginning, the request is not based on mere ‘opinions’ from the Minister, or public statements, but facts that we understand he tries to keep under wraps for obvious reasons.” It is uncertain whether the “few” days Carrió made reference to will end up being an indefinite number, or if the request will indeed be filed shortly, thus lighting a match to a situation that’s already covered in gasoline.