José López, the former Kirchnerite Public Works Secretary discovered trying to hide roughly US $9 million in a convent back in June, today formally resigned from his post as a deputy in Parlasur, the Mercosur trade bloc parliament. López decided to officially resign from Ezeiza prison, where he has been kept ever since he was arrested, after he was notified the body had begun an impeachment process against him.
Parlasur deputies are set to discuss whether to accept López’s resignation at their next session on August 12. Several deputies argue that simply accepting the resignation would be letting López off the hook too easily and so would rather carry on with the impeachment process to show their condemnation of his actions.
“On August 12 we will say the resignation is irrelevant and doesn’t exempt him [López] from the impeachment process, which has already been initiated. He has been accused of lack of decorum and will have to accept the body’s decision. Accepting his resignation would be a form of impunity,” Renewal Front (FR) Deputy Alberto Asseff told Ámbito. Regardless of the outcome — which seems pretty obvious — López will be removed from Parlasur one way or another. Substitute Deputy Tulio Enrique Caponio is set to take his seat.
After the José López scandal, as it is now known as, broke out, López was kicked out of the Victory Front (FpV) caucus — by caucus we mean a group of lawmakers who vote along the same lines — in Parlasur. However, since the body failed to obtain the necessary votes to expel him in a session held on June 21, he has stayed as a (suspended) solitary deputy. His replacement will surely rejoin the FpV caucus.
According to Infobae, the vote fell short back then because some deputies led by Uruguayan Pablo Iturralde, requested the aforementioned impeachment process against López be initiated “so he may defend himself [and be politically condemned as well].”
“Whether we like it or not, López has the right to defend himself,” said Fabián Rodríguez Simón, a Cambiemos deputy in Parlasur, who voted against López’s expulsion on June 21. “They wanted to kick him out against the body’s statute, which guarantees the accused’s right to defense by trial,” he added.
Mercosur is a trade block established in 1991 comprising member states Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, and Parlasur is its parliamentary body. The organization focuses mainly on developing economic measures aimed at promoting free trade and market union. However, much like the UN, the body has more of a testimonial role, as it doesn’t have the power to sanction laws and can only issue non-binding suggestions.