All the Chilean opposition parties have presented this Wednesday in the Chamber of Deputies a constitutional accusation (impeachment) to remove the country’s president, Sebastián Piñera, after the alleged irregularities in the sale of a mining project revealed in the Pandora Papers .
“The causes of this constitutional accusation are two: one, because the president has openly infringed the Constitution in relation to the principle of probity, and secondly, for seriously compromising the honor of the Nation”, said the socialist deputy Jaime Naranjo, surrounded by representatives of all the opposition banks.
For Tomas Hirsch, of the leftist Acción Humanista, the constitutional accusation “marks a historic milestone” in Chile and was presented by “the complete opposition, united, with conviction, with certainty, with responsibility and with all the antecedents in hand.”
“We have to make decisions with Chile in mind and it is not bearable to have a president accused in this way for crimes of corruption,” added Christian Democrat Gabriel Ascencio.
The constitutional accusation is a procedure contemplated in Chilean law that empowers the deputies to initiate a political trial against an authority and can lead to the dismissal or disqualification from holding public office of the accused.
For the mechanism to prosper, an absolute majority is required in the Chamber of Deputies – the body in charge of establishing whether or not the accusation is viable – and the subsequent support of two-thirds in the Senate, an institution that acts as a jury and declares whether the accused is guilty or innocent of what is imputed to him.
The objective is that the accusatory libel, which will foreseeably have the votes in the lower house, reaches the Senate before the presidential elections on November 21.
Bribery and tax crimes
Last week, the Chilean Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation for bribery and tax crimes allegedly committed by Piñera in the sale in 2010 in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands of part of his shares in the mega-project Minera Dominga.
As revealed in the Pandora Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in collaboration with the Chilean media CIPER and LaBot, the payment of Minera Dominga had to be made in three installments, but the last one was conditional on the area not being declared of environmental protection, despite the fact that the mine threatens a nature reserve with unique penguins.
Environmental protection, which was not finally decreed, depended on Piñera, one of the country’s main fortunes and who had assumed power for his first term (2010-2014) just a few months before the sale of the project, which is currently pending. of appeals in the Supreme Court.
“The least we hope is that the processing of Dominga stops because we believe that the obligation of this Congress is to guarantee the right to live in an environment free of contamination as this president has not done,” said Catalina Pérez, of the leftist Democratic Revolution (RD).
This is the second attempt to politically judge the president, after the failed attempt in November 2019 for alleged human rights violations amid massive protests against inequality, the most serious since the end of the military dictatorship.