National Deputy and c0-founder of the Cambiemos coalition, Elisa “Lilita”Carrió, stuck to her word and filed today in the Chamber of Deputies a request to impeach Justice Minister Germán Garavano.
The request is unlikely to prosper, as it does not enjoy the support of any of the two other parties within the Cambiemos coalition – the PRO and the UCR – or even from the Frente Para la Victoria (FpV), a detractor of the government in practically any situation.
However, the request’s significance goes beyond the likelihood of Garavano keeping his job. It illustrates how deteriorated the relationship between the leader of the Coalición Cívica and the Executive Branch is. Carrió believes that the presence of Garavano in the government is clear proof that it is not actually willing to fight against the corruption reigning in the Argentine political landscape.
Carrió had toned down the tensions last Friday, assuring she would not break with Cambiemos and that a previous statement of hers, when she said she would make amends with President Macri once he got rid of Garavano was a joke. Moreover, she indicated she would postpone filing the impeachment request “for a few days” to settle the mood. However, the truce was about a day long. Speaking as a guest on Cenando con Mirtha Legrand on Saturday, she said that the “people did not vote” her “to stay quiet about these things.”
Besides reiterating her loathing of Garavano, Carrió assured that president of Boca Juniors football club Daniel Angelici, who is close to Macri and she considers to be another shady character in the political landscape, also wields a great deal of influence behind the scenes of the Judiciary. “You can’t be OK with me and Angelici and the same time. The President has to decide: we are either ruled by the football mafias or an independent Judiciary,” she said.
Today, Carrió followed through with her promise and filed the request. Signed by the entire Coalición Cívica caucus 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 request reads.
- 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, he had requested they be sentenced to eight years in prison. 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 Attorney Chief for the Buenos Aires Province, 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.
During the past days, different PRO officials came out during to clarify they did not agree with Carrió’s stance. Deputies Pablo Tonelli, Eduardo Amadeo and Daniel Lipovetsky all gave different interviews where they rejected the possibility of supporting the impeachment.
It is uncertain whether the clash will be reduced to the request and both camps will continue to live together within the coalition, knowing there is an ongoing disagreement between them, or if it will grow to be a factor that jeopardizes its very existence. Carrió is considered to be Cambiemos’ “moral compass” by a significant part of its base, so if the latter ends up being the case, President Mauricio Macri’s electoral expectations will be severely harmed.