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Kirchner's legislators violated the Argentine Constitution

By Tony Pagliaro

07.12.05 | Luis Patti, the popular leader of a medium size political party, PAUFE, was elected to the Argentine Lower House with almost half a million votes behind him. Yesterday, notwithstanding such fact, he was abruptly denied his seat in Congress. Kirchner´s legislators -that hold a commanding majority in the Lower House- voted to send Patti’s credentials and antecedents to a Committee that will have to review them and report back to the House. Patti will have to wait. Those who voted for him, as well.

This unconstitutional decision was passed following a charge led and a proposal made by one of Kirchner’s most important legislators, Miguel Bonasso, a former leader of the terrorist group known as the “Montoneros”, which was very active in the 70’s Bonasso was responsible -inter alia- for the bombing and destruction of the residence of a civilian public officer, Guillermo Walter Klein, an event that killed two persons and ended up causing severe mental suffering to his son, at that time a boy.

Bonasso (like all former terrorists) was pardoned by President Carlos Menem by Decree 1003, in 1989. He was, at that time, subject to a criminal investigation in Criminal Court N° 6, in Buenos Aires. Said pardon (unacceptable to International Law) was never challenged and Bonasso (now a legislator) has remained totally impune.

It was Miguel Bonasso who -together with the brand new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Taiana, (also a former member of Montoneros who was caught and spent several years in jail)- carefully organized the disastrous Mar del Plata recent regional “Summit”, where President Bush was publicly insulted by his “host”, President Kirchner. And where all major events, including riots, were part of a well known choreography which included constantly promoting the “bolivarian” Hugo Chávez.

It is certainly shocking how Congressman Bonasso can get away with his blocking of Mr. Patti’s access to his seat in Congress. Particularly when Mr. Patti (a former police officer) has no judicial case pending against him, nor has ever been found guilty of any crime, whatsoever. His major sin, however, is been outspoken and openly anti-Kirchner, a mistake that no one can freely afford in today’s authoritarian Argentina. This looks like one more politically motivated persecution. Patti will now have to go to Court and put in motion a very slow process. Even if he prevails, this situation will definitely shorten his popular mandate.

But one has to keep in mind that Argentina’s Supreme Court is now made up with “new” Justices, the majority of whom were recently appointed by Néstor Kirchner himself among those who definitely share his “views” and ideology. Patti’s chances to have his day in court, therefore, are not too good.

In fact Argentina´s Constitution (Article 66) states that legislators can only be excluded from Congress for reasons “subsequent” to their access to the Legislature. Kirchner does not care and openly instructs his legislators to act in contradiction of the law. What we are witnessing is just one more clear step in the direction of establishing an authoritarian political system in Argentina. Néstor Kirchner seems to be openly rewriting Argentina’s Constitution, totally at will. Like his Venezuelan pal, the “bolivarian” Hugo Chávez is doing close to the Caribbean sea.

In the meantime his strongest business ally, i.e. the press sector (I refer, again, to the “Clarín Group”, that has a virtual monopoly of Argentina’s press) is -as expected- applauding what has just happened to Mr. Patti in Congress. It does not care about details, like freedom, or the Constitution, or the votes cast for Mr. Patti. Those are just procedural “details”. All that really matters is “power” and money.

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