As part of the price he paid to be elected as a candidate for president Alberto Fernandez assumed the status of becoming a crusader against the judges who investigated Cristina Kirchner and to their government officials. It was a openwork contortion that exposed him to grotesque contradictions with the plot line that organized his public discourse during the years in which he acted as a repentant of Kirchnerism.
Throughout two years of traumatic management and manifest tensions with his mentor, the President found in the judicial battlefield a meeting point for the dysfunctional family of the front of all. Like a separate marriage that gets together for the son’s birthday. The march organized by the extreme wing of Kirchnerism began as a marginal expression that ended up resignified by the institutional stamp that the Casa Rosada put on it; a personal decision by Fernández at critical times for the Peronist coalition as a result of the announced pre-agreement on the external debt that will place the country under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Fernández accompanies the street tightening called by the condemned Louis D’Elia, the trade unionist with legal problems Paul Moyano and the militant judge John Ramos Padilla, while Cristina Kirchner punishes him with silence for the pact with the Fund. What is exhibited as a show of power hides a monumental expression of political weakness: the ruling party systematically failed to impose its judicial reform projects, even before the loss of seats it suffered in the November elections. Neither the changes in Commodore Py nor the appointment of a new Attorney General prospered. The government that blesses the slogan “fire all judges from the Court” did not even offer an option for the vacancy left in November by the resigning Ellen Highton.
Incapable of changing through constitutional means what in its vision “doesn’t work”, the Government bows to the Kirchnerist strategy of dragging the debate on justice into the mud of political disputes. The Court is the chosen target based on the accumulation of decisions that it must resolve in cases of corruption and economic conflicts. By making her the enemy, he intends to degrade the respectability of her actions.
Cristina Kirchner is extremely concerned that the President of the Court, Horace Rosatti, head the Judicial Council, the key body in the selection and control of the Judiciary. It is a consequence of the ruling with which the court declared the reform that she promoted in 2006 unconstitutional, unless a political agreement is reached to sanction a new law in the coming months. The opposition – which is also unified in these wars – swore not to give in to pressure from the Front of All to endorse the project of the Executive Power in extraordinary sessions.
The judges of the Court appear recurrently in Cristina’s diatribes. Resigned that she doesn’t control them, she asks her people to polish them whenever they can. The Minister of Justice, Martin Soria, believed to win points when he visited the four judges and read them a manifesto in which he accused them of slowness and ineffectiveness. His second, the cristinista John Martin Mena, was the one who gave the first explicit endorsement of the march. And the head of the intelligence services, Cristina Caamaño, joined him days ago in search of satisfying the majority sector of the coalition that accuses it of not being proactive enough in the autopsy of the macrista management of state espionage. Moyano offered logistical support to fill Plaza Lavalle at the suggestion of an emissary of the vice president, even though it was difficult for him to confront his partners in the leadership of the CGT.
Cristina strengthened the march with her statements in Honduras, when she said that “Military coups are no longer needed, now we have to get educated judges in commissions and forums”. She combines the ditty of lawfare with patient operations that allowed her to chain legal successes for her and her family, such as the unusual dismissal without trial in the hotel case or the acquittal for Cristóbal López in the Oil case. The march of 1-F it also has a role in that underground maneuvering game. The horizon is far from clear and the loss of power is a “noose around the neck”, to quote the presidential metaphor about the IMF.
Kirchner’s outrage in this matter is self-defense. He did not put the same emphasis to demand better access to Justice for the most vulnerable sectors of society or to expose the inaction of the courts (and of course politics) in the face of the chilling advance of drug traffickers in Rosario.
Caught in the game of impossible balances, Alberto Fernández encouraged the march like someone longing for a smoke break. He argued that the Court has “a serious operational problem” that “makes it necessary to review its working mechanisms, the number of members and division of tasks.” He went so far as to say that the court entered a process of “moral degradation” since Macri appointed Rosatti and Carlos Rosenkrantz.
No one was more emphatic than himself in refuting that idea. In April 2016, he said that Rosatti and Rosenkrantz were “honest judges” whose “moral and technical integrity no one can question.”
He also said in those early days of the Cambiemos government -he was a political operator of Sergio Massa– that the Court had to remain with five members, that the proposals to increase the number of judges and the division into chambers were “a fantasy partly driven by a theoretical idea of (Eugenio) Zaffaroni”. In an interview with Public Television, he stated: “The constitutional logic is not like that. The Court must have five members, it must work with five members and they must be members as honest as those who are and as honest as those that Macri is proposing. It is wrong to ask for more members. The Court is an institution of the country”.
Three years earlier he had been one of the sharpest spokesmen for the opposition to the judicial reform project that Cristina Kirchner tried to impose in her second term. “The democratization of Justice is a lie. We don’t have to elect judges for their ideology. I think it’s terrifying, we shouldn’t allow it to happen, I don’t know who came up with such nonsense,” said the politician who nobody dreamed of being president at the time, in relation to the idea of the time about the need for members of the Power Judicial had some elective support.
At that time, he called for respect for the independence of the powers and warned about the risk that the constant political siege on judges implied. He used to appeal to a phrase that today could well steal the opposition. “The issue of Justice has to unite us all.”