President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner finally decided to address the “silent march” that took place on Wednesday afternoon in Buenos Aires.
As expected, she wasn’t happy with it so she decided to write about it and, faithful to her style, not only she openly criticized everyone who participated in the march, but she also accused the Judicial Branch of finally becoming what democracy prepared it to be: an evil political party or, as she calls it, a “Judicial Party”, an organization composed of judges, prosecutors and miscellanea law-related professionals who will try to run this country and undermine every little attempt by her administration to move towards equality, social progress and overall happiness.
The President chose to use her personal website once more to let everyone know what she thought about the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to march under the heavy rain that day.
And this strategy make sense. Symbolically speaking, ranting on her website means that this event was not something on her radar, at least definitely not worth discussing on her Cadena Nacional televised addresses. It’s no more than an afterthought. An addendum. Something that she decided to write about because she was bored on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.
However, there’s one tiny (or huge) detail that demonstrates how alarming and problematic this march actually was for the administration: once again, she decided to publish her ideas in English.
Cristina does have an English language option on her personal website but she’s only posted sixteen messages in total since she took office in 2007. Eight of these messages, or 50 percent of all of her English postings, were published following the death of Alberto Nisman last January 18. And this is quite telling.
The Government is concerned about how it’s being perceived abroad, since the only two facts that people in other countries know are that:
- A prosecutor in charge of investigating Argentina’s worst terrorist attack surprised the local and international community when he accused the President of trying to cover up Iran’s alleged involvement in it.
- Hours before he was supposed to address legislators in Congress to explain his accusation he turned up dead of apparent suicide.
So while there’s a lot of context in this case that shouldn’t go unnoticed, those are the only two facts that people abroad remember. And if there’s anything she can do to to counteract that notion, she will do it, even if it means writing in English.
However, in her effort to explain her side of the story, she conveniently get some facts wrong and attacks pretty much everyone.
First, she says that the federal prosecutors responsible for the march did so in order to “call for justice”, a claim that sounds obviously ridiculous since it would be like cops marching against a rise in criminality. This was a Kirchnerite talking point that was blurted ad nauseam on television and the press by those criticizing the silent march. But it’s untrue, since the prosecutors insisted that they only point of the march was to honor the life of Alberto Nisman. Others who joined the march did indeed call for “truth” and “justice”, but the Government insisted on this misleading notion in an effort to discredit the silent march as a pointless event.
She also defines it as a march led by those in the opposition. And this is true, although considering how much the demonstration had been criticized by Kirchnerism in the last few days, I can’t imagine many Cristina voters being eager to attend.
The event did manage to gather people from all ideologies and from all across the political spectrum and unite them under one cause: their dislike for the Fernandez de Kirchner administration. And last time I checked, dissent was a symptom of a healthy democracy.
Except for Argentina, where it’s the equivalent of a coup d’état.
Yes, because even though the march was (positively, I might add) lacking the violent rhetoric of yesteryear and one had to try really hard to find someone holding a sign that compared the President to Hitler, Cristina – who did not attend the march – makes it sound in her letter below as if they were everywhere, along with “political leaders laughing out loud” (I can only imagine she’s referring to congresswoman Patricia Bullrich, who was photographed smiling during the march).
And that is why the President says that the whole thing was “in no way a march to honor a person who died tragically”. Prosecutor Nisman’s former partner, Sandra Arroyo Salgado, and one of his daughters were there, grieving, but whatever.
The President then moves on to address the biggest affliction that humanity has had to deal with since The Great Flood: the media.
Especially the media that doesn’t like her.
If you’re one of those poor souls who just arrived in this country, you may have noticed that there’s Argentina and then there’s Bizarro Argentina (fans of Superman and/or Seinfeld may get the pop culture reference). If you read the pro-Cristina media, everything is just dandy! People eat cotton candy, ride rainbow-colored unicorns and gay people get married while high-fiving the Pope. If you read the anti-Cristina media, we’re all naked and slowly dying of hypothermia on the icy surface of Dante’s ninth circle of Hell while Judas Iscariot, the Biblical betrayer of Christ also known as Satan, commands his dollar-thirsty vulture funds to start pecking our weak bodies.
Hyperbolic much? Maybe. But while large media outlets in the country reported that close to 400,000 people marched under the rain last Wednesday, the pro-Cristina side decided to counterattack by claiming that no more than 50,000 people gathered in downtown Buenos Aires. And now Cristina herself is questioning the official figures provided by the Metropolitan Police (a force created by opposition leader and Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri) in her latest post because they are obviously lies, lies, lies.
So she brings up some old newspapers covers from 2004 and 2008 and attendance estimates to previous demonstrations to prove with surgical precision that the Metropolitan Police’s claim is “pathetically ridiculous and politically manipulated”.
In the end, the message is clear: We are now witnessing a soft coup, led by the Judicial Branch against an administration that has gone to great lengths to help those in need. Or, in her own words: “We are dealing with an überpower that rises above the institutions that were established through the vote of the people”.
She sprinkles her post with a few words specifically added to create an emotional response such as “dictatorship”, “2001” and “human rights” and the result is the perfect template for a Cristina-style letter.
Now, let’s not fool ourselves here. The Judiciary in Argentina is not a pristine institution being unfairly attacked for trying to do its job. The Judicial Branch here has some rotten apples on both sides of the political spectrum (and in high places!), prosecutors and judges who side with the Government and look the other way when a corruption case falls on their laps, and prosecutors and judges who rule in favor of the corporate world, no matter what the consequences are.
But respectful dissent between the President and those who don’t support her will never come for as long as she keeps insulting their motivations and calling them coup-mongers.
Considering she only has ten months left in office, I’m afraid by now it could already be too late.
The President’s message, as published on her official website, can be found below.
18F The baptism of fire of the Judicial Party
On judges and prosecutors. On rallies and figures. From Nisman to Pollicita.
A brief introduction and some thoughts.
I‘ve been told that over the last few days, whenever I was done speaking at an official event, TN, the cable TV channel owned by the media monopoly Clarín, would write titles like: “She didn’t mention Nisman” or “She didn’t talk about the 18F march”.
It is true that when I speak through nationwide simultaneous broadcasts it makes it a tiny bit harder for them to do their institutionally destructive and predatory work. But press freedom is fortunately not affected. The nationwide campaign of discouragement and hatred, commanded by Clarín, enjoys the privilege of free expression 24/7, 365 days a year round.
But coming back to the reproach to me for my “silence”, it is remarkable that when I speak about what some don’t want, a prosecutor demands that I keep quiet, and when I don’t speak about what they want, they demand that I speak.In short: words and silence seem to have owners in Argentina.
In fact, even as a citizen before becoming President, I have always had the habit of analyzing, evaluating and then giving an opinion on any event once it’s occurred. It is a healthy habit that I don’t intend to give up.
On judges and prosecutors
The event that had taken place was the unprecedented call made by prosecutors, supported by quite a number of judges, to a rally they said was being organized to demand “justice” in connection with the death of prosecutor Nisman, something really as unusual as it would be if Ministers of the Executive Branch made a similar call demanding better “management by the government”, while other prosecutors claimed that the purpose was to pay tribute to their dead colleague. I will not go into detail on the background of the prosecutors organizing the rally, which is widely known and comes as no surprise to anyone. However it remains, at least, a curiosity that two of them were accused by relatives of victims of Amia cause and hinder the task of Nisman own.
However, I must point out the report prepared by Spanish journalists on two of them, including their links with Argentine hooligans and their “business deals”, which did not lead to any reaction or even comment by any member of the Judiciary when the extent of collusion was exposed. Or could it be that they have been taking these selective “silences” seriously and for quite some time already?
The truth is that the rally attended by the full spectrum of opposition parties and their presidential candidates, except for left-wing groups, was anything but a tribute to a person who died tragically, with the obvious exception of the victim’s immediate family.
It was possible to see political leaders laughing out loud, live and in the flesh, as well as marchers carrying signs with offensive and insulting slogans against the government. It wasn’t a “silence” march either, because the silence was stridently broken by the speech of a representative of a trade union group that is fiercely opposed to the government. In other words: both in gestures and in words and quite visibly, 18F was definitely an anti-government rally called by prosecutors and supported by judges and by the full political spectrum of the opposition.
In brief: a rally by several members of one branch of the State, the Judiciary, against another branch established by the Constitution: the Executive. That was what could be seen, heard, filmed and photographed. In other words, the event that took place.
And here I go back to the beginning. It was advisable to wait, because it could have been a march to pay tribute to a Prosecutor that was found dead in suspicious circumstances, as stated by the case file title, or it could be what it really was: purely and simply an opposition rally.
If the rally had one great merit, it was the fact that in Argentina –your country-, you can disagree, you can insult the Government and the President and you can march freely. It wasn’t always like that, and I’m not thinking about the military dictatorship. I still remember what happened to those who decided to express their disagreement on 19 and 20 December 2001, on Plaza de Mayo square in Buenos Aires. Repression, over 30 dead, fire opened on the crowd, martial law. Over 13 years later, no one has been arrested or sentenced for these incidents. Fernando De la Rúa was President at the time.
On rallies and figures
The controversy over the rally and the number of those who attended it deserves a special analysis. There are some explicit and some implicit elements. In order to avoid subjectivity, let´s use the opposition media as a source in doing the analysis.
As regards the explicit component, I should say that the two largest opposition marches against our Government were:
– The one organized by Mr. Blumberg, purportedly an engineer, at the Congress Square, on 1 April 2004.
– The one was organized by the Rural Landowners Organizations at the Monument to the Spaniards, on Libertador Avenue, on 15 July 2008, following a 127-day long lock-out, supply shortages, roadblocks, etc. This one was bigger than the first one.
The news reports and photographic documents in the newspapers Clarín andLa Nación over the course of the following days eloquently reflect this.
Front page of Clarín on Friday 2 April: “150,000 gathered outside Congress and rallies nationwide. One of the largest gatherings since the return of democracy”.
Front page of La Nación on the same day: “Some 150,000 at the largest popular demonstration in years…”.
It is quite remarkable to see how both newspapers can count the number of people so accurately to come up with the same figure.
Also remarkable is the precision of La Nación newspaper in comparing both gatherings. 237,000 people at the one on Libertador Avenue and 103,000 people at the Congress for the gathering headed by Néstor Kirchner.
Just a look at the front pages of both newspapers on 19 February and their photographic accounts is enough to show that the purported figure of 400,000 (!) people is pathetically ridiculous and politically manipulated.
The photographs and their use of perspective, the texts, the occupied common physical space and their capacity make the lie far too blatant.
Why, then, this obvious insistence on adding zeros to a march?
Because after all, therein lies the hidden and implicit objective of the rally: 18F is no tribute to a Prosecutor, or even an unusual demand for justice, but rather the baptism of fire of the Judicial Party.
And that Judicial Party must exhibit “mass support” (not “popular”, a notion unthinkable for those who attended the event) to endorse and give an air of legality to any judicial botch-up, with no regard for the provisions of the laws, the substantive and procedural codes or even the Constitution.
18F. The baptism of fire of the Judicial Party.
The true political and institutional event of 18F is the public, and at this point undeniable, coming out of the Judicial Party.
This is the new weapon against Popular Governments, and it has come to replace the Military Party in the role that the latter played in our tragic past in respect of Lawful and Legitimate democratic Governments.
But the strategy does not consist any longer in violent coup d’états that interrupt the operation of the institutions and of the Constitution.
New methods are more sophisticated. The new Judicial Party works in coordination with the concentrated economic powers and, mainly, with the monopolistic media machinery in an attempt to destabilize the National Executive, while at the same time disregarding the decisions of the Legislative branch. That is to say, we are dealing with an überpower that rises above the institutions that were established through the vote of the people.
This Judicial Party is made up of groups of Judges and Prosecutors who are linked to, and promoted by, the large media and economic groups. Many of them are also supporters of the impunity laws for the crimes committed within the framework of State Terrorism under the last Military Dictatorship; others are former political officials of the 90s, and nearly all are closely connected with the underground heads who were removed from the intelligence organizations.
This Judicial Party plays a double role by fabricating judicial cases and simultaneously hindering progress in others. It is this Judicial Party that summons the Minister of Justice to declare half an hour before the House of Representatives commences the debate on the new Criminal Procedural Code. It is the same Judicial Party that summons the Treasury Attorney General to declare four days after she filed an appearance in the proceedings relating to the outlandish accusation of Prosecutor Nisman by submitting a 60-page document and documentary evidence, which disprove the absurd “criminal plan devised by the Argentine President and her Foreign Minister, and approved by the Argentine Congress”.
It is the Judicial Party that delays cases relating to crimes against humanity such as the appropriation of the newsprint manufacturer Papel Prensa during the last Military Dictatorship by Hector Magnetto, Ernestina Herrera de Noble, Bartolome Mitre and the former owners of La Razón newspaper. Despite the incredible amount of documentary and testimonial evidence in that case, to date none of those accused by Graiver’s widow, who was arrested and tortured during the Military Dictatorship, has been summoned.
In relation to this emblematic case, is it true, as some newspapers have reported, that the Judge hearing the case, Mr. Ercolini, participated in the rally? I do not think so. That would be too much.
It is the Judicial Party that fails to adopt any decisions and delays the case on money laundering reported by Hernan Arbizu, former Vice President of the JP Morgan in Argentina. Mr. Arbizu not only incriminates himself, but also provided a thorough description of how he laundered money of the members of Clarin Group. This case has been open for years, but not a single person has been summoned yet.
It is the Judicial Party that still blocks the application of the Media Law, ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, through an endless series of precautionary measures.
It is the Judicial Party that has given rise to the “express protective justice on request” or “forum shopping”. It was also this Party that requested the declaration of Prosecutor Gonella, who investigates money laundering and drug trafficking matters, thus allowing an accusation made by a judge who is in a relationship with Valentin Temes Coto, a drug dealer sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for smuggling three tons of cocaine.
It is the Judicial Party that makes accusations against companies on account of mere administrative offenses while the judge hearing the case is a shareholder of commercial companies, which is prohibited, thus violating the Law. What is more, those shares were purchased with loans from State-owned Banks(Banco Provincia de Buenos Aires) and private businessmen. A funny detail: the companies of which the judge is a shareholder committed the same administrative offences as the accused companies. Incredible, yet true. These are some perks of the omnipotence, impunity, and discretional powers that come with the mere fact of being a Judge in this country. About paying income taxes, don’t get me started on that…
It is the Judicial Party that harasses the Public Prosecutors’ Office in a way never seen before with constant complaints, requests for declarations, and searches, as well as by hindering the operation of this institution, which was established by the 1994 Constitution as a body independent of any of the three branches of government in order to guarantee independence in the task of administering justice for all citizens.
It is the Judicial Party that for the first time in history judges unconstitutional an international treaty signed and ratified by Parliament in the exercise of its constitutional powers that are exclusive and exclusionary of these two branches of the national government. Decisions that, therefore, are not judiciables, as it has been said by the own doctrine of the Court.
This Judicial Party does not run for elections. Their members do not pay taxes, and they hold their functions and prerogatives for life. One of them is about to turn a hundred years old. Wouldn’t it be great to be a Judge?
A note on rallies and figures
As I write this, someone brings me the front page of La Nacion newspaper’s edition of 19 April 2013. Here it is. It is priceless:
This was published almost two years ago. Pay attention to the headline and the subheading: it says that it is the biggest protest march against the Government. That it was even greater than the ones of 13S and 8N. Remember 8N? The green rally. No, I do not mean global warming. That rally was in New York; I was there, and it was really crowded. The one here was on account of the measures applicable to the US dollar.
The protest march shown in the photograph was related to the reform of the judicial system, which was approved by Congress but rejected by the Judiciary. The newspaper article claims that “thousands of people” participated in the march. Have a look at the picture and take a look at the previous ones. You can draw your own conclusions.
There is another detail. If you pay attention, next to the picture there is an article entitled “The analysis: A fragile and overwhelmed Cristina.” I think that the one who needs analysis (psychoanalysis?) is the author of the article. If you pay closer attention, on the cover of the La Nación newspaper of 19 February, my birthday, there is another article entitled: “The scenario. Cristina’s Galtieri-style rule.” Of course I read neither article, but someone who goes from being “fragile and overwhelmed” to being like a dictator in two years’ time has a remarkable power to recover… And I don’t even drink a sip of alcohol – in fact, I don’t even like it. There are others who could not say the same, though. They seem to drink quite often. Anyway, some delights of the media and further evidence of how little the media recall what they publish. Such a shame.
It is quite simple, actually: the latest protest against the Government will always be the most numerous. This time it was 400,000 people, so I’m guessing next time the figure will be around one million.
From Nisman to Pollicita
I am looking at a copy of the letter sent by Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita – who is currently in charge of the accusation filed by Prosecutor Nisman – to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Argentine Republic, Mr. Julian Dominguez. This letter informs that Mr. Pollicita will not appear before Congress on Monday 23. The heads of the Justice, Foreign Relations and Constitutional Affairs Committees of Congress had invited Mr. Pollicita because the accusation revolves around the Memorandum of Legal Cooperation entered into between Argentina and the Islamic Republic of Iran in connection with the AMIA bombing. The memorandum was signed by the Executive and approved by Congress, because it is a complex federal proceeding that requires the participation of both the Executive and the Legislative branches.
The reasons given by Prosecutor Pollicita to decline the invitation to appear before the Argentine Congress and explain such a serious accusation involving the President, the Foreign Minister and a Member of Congress (among others) are quite curious, and they further demonstrate the way in which the Judiciary operates.
He invokes the “confidentiality of the proceedings” and explains that his appearance before Congress “would imply answering the requests” (sic) of the Members of Congress, which could frustrate “different lines of investigation” if the details became public.
Where was Prosecutor Pollicita when Prosecutor Nisman went on a media tour giving all sorts of hints and clues about his accusations on TV, radio and the newspapers? Where was he when Nisman decided to appear before Congress at the invitation of the opposition? How do the Prosecutors of the Judicial Party work? Why do they accept the invitations of the opposition but decline the invitations of the Government?
This is what I referred to when I talked about the Judicial Party. Not only is it a Party, but it is also part of the Opposition and attempts to destabilize the Government – but not just any Government: this Government.
The Government of Memory, Truth and Justice.
The Government that repealed the impunity laws.
The Government that opened all classified files and allowed all intelligence agents to talk about the AMIA case. The only Argentine Government that asked for legal cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran before the UN in order to solve the AMIA case.
The Government that has allocated more economic and human resources than any other to those investigating the terrorist attack committed against AMIA twenty-one years ago, for which not a single person has been detained or convicted.
The Government that has established the Universal Child Allowance Plan. The Government that has recovered the money taken from workers and given to private pension and retirement funds managers. The Government that has achieved the highest levels of social inclusion in terms of social security. The Government that has established adjustable pensions.
The Government that established the Procrear, Progresar and Conectar Igualdad Programmes for universal access to loans, youth allowances and computer access, respectively.
The Government that has made the largest investment in trains in the last 50 years – new trains for people to travel in decent conditions.
The Government that has streamlined the process to obtain a National ID card and passport, for it to no longer be an ordeal.
The Government that has released the country from its foreign debt. The Government that has paid the IMF and the Paris Club but refuses to pay usurious interest rates to vulture funds. The Government that has the intention of paying 100% of its creditors on an equal, fair and egalitarian basis.
The Government that has created more than 5 million jobs and reinstated collective bargaining agreements. The Government that reactivated the Council for the National Minimum Wage. The Government that has reindustrialized the country and achieved the highest wages in Latin America, both in terms of nominal value and purchasing power.
The Government that has built the most important infrastructure works in 50 years. The Government that has completed the Yacyreta dam and the Atucha II nuclear power plant. The Government that has built and launched the first Argentine satellite into space, creating ARSAT, the Argentine State-owned company of satellite solutions.
The Government that has resumed the Strategic Nuclear programme by investing more than USD 11 billion. The Government that has repatriated more than 1,000 scientists and has created the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The Government that has opened 9 new National Universities and created the most inclusive national scholarship programme in our history.
The Government that has expanded the rights of its citizens by legislating same-sex marriage, and gender identity and equality.
The Government that has re-established the Rural Worker Statute and offered inclusion to domestic service employees for the first time in history, granting them all the necessary labour and social security rights.
The Government that has said NO to the FTAA (ALCA) and YES to MERCOSUR, UNASUR, and CELAC.
And, believe it or not, the Government that has allocated the largest budget to the Judiciary.