The Chilean Chamber of Deputies has approved this Tuesday to hold a political trial to remove the country’s president, the conservative Sebastián Piñera, for alleged irregularities in the sale of a controversial mining project.
The entire Chilean opposition presents a motion to remove President Piñera for the Pandora Papers
After a marathon parliamentary session of almost 24 hours, the deputies have resolved by 78 votes in favor, 67 against and three abstentions that the constitutional accusation advances to the Senate, the body that will be in charge of judging the president for the scandal revealed in the investigation Pandora’s papers
The opposition needed 78 of the 155 seats to approve the accusation that it presented on October 13 and in which it accused the president of having lacked the principle of “probity” and “seriously compromising the honor of the Nation.”
15 hours of speech
“I hope that this chamber will approve the constitutional accusation, (…) Chile will judge those who are allowing this impunity in the country,” said the deputy in charge of presenting the arguments in favor of impeachment, the socialist Jaime Naranjo, at the end of his very long speech.
Naranjo has given a speech of about 15 hours to allow the parliamentarian Giorgio Jackson, of the leftist Frente Amplio, to end his quarantine and be able to go to vote.
“This was a gesture of political solidarity. It is good at all times to teach, help and support the younger generations,” said the veteran parliamentarian, 70 years old.
Jackson was confined until 00:00 local time on Tuesday for being close contact with presidential candidate Gabriel Boric, infected with COVID-19 last week.
The telematic vote, which was in force during the toughest months of the pandemic, was not enabled on this occasion because the state of exception no longer governs, so Jackson’s presence in the hemicycle was essential.
The presence of the Christian Democrat deputy Jorge Sabag has also generated concern, who in the afternoon had presented some physical discomfort, which delayed his arrival from the southern city of Chillán to the Lower House, in Valparaíso
The strategy chosen by the opposition to delay the vote, strongly criticized by the ruling party, is known as parliamentary filibustering and is used in different countries around the world, including the United States.
Final stretch of the campaign
The accusation against the president will be discussed in the Senate – where a higher quorum of two-thirds is required – just a few days before Chile holds on November 21 the most momentous and uncertain elections in its recent history in which it will decide precisely to Piñera’s successor.
The Pandora Papers revealed alleged irregularities in the sale of Minera Dominga by a company owned by Piñera’s children in the British Virgin Islands to a close friend of the presidential family, just nine months after he assumed office for his first term. not consecutive (2010-2014).
Piñera, one of the largest fortunes in Chile, defends that he dissociated himself from his businesses through blind trusts in 2009 and that what was revealed was already dismissed in 2017.
“With what we have experienced today and the way in which the accusation was prepared, improvised for the purpose of locating its discussion a few days before an election, how not to understand that politics is an activity that has a bad reputation,” he said in the chamber the president’s lawyer, Jorge Gálvez, who has spoken for more than six hours.
The impeachment trial, which a parliamentary commission said on Friday was inadmissible in a non-binding report, runs alongside an investigation in the Public Ministry for possible tax and bribery crimes in the same operation.
This is the second attempt to prosecute Piñera politically, after the failed attempt in November 2019 for alleged human rights violations in the midst of the social outbreak, the most serious protests since the end of the dictatorship. Since the return to democracy in 1990, all presidents in Chile have finished their terms.