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Argentina: golpe or auto-golpe?

A federal judge in Argentina on Feb. 26 dismissed charges against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, who had been accused of covering up Iranian involvement in the deadly 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA). Judge Daniel Rafecas concluded that there was "no legal basis" to pursue the charges, which had been prepared by special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, just before he was found dead in his apartment last month. Rafecas also dismissed related charges against lawmaker Eduardo "Wado" de Pedro and two leftist leaders close the the government, Luis D'Elía and Fernando Estreche. (BBC NewsInfoBAE, Feb. 26)

That same day, Argentina's Congress approved a bill dissolving the Intelligence Secretariat, to be replaced by a new agency more accountable to the legislative branch. The proposal was drafted last month by Fernández following the death of Nisman—who she said had been fed false information by the spy service. Opposition lawmakers rejected the new law as an actual consolidation of power in the executive, noting that oversight of wiretaps will be moved from the intelligence agency to the prosecutor general's office. (BBC News, Feb. 26)

Also Feb. 26, Fernández announced a cabinet shake-up, with Wado de Pedro to replace Aníbal Fernández as secretary general of the presidency. Aníbal Fernández, in turn, is to replace Jorge Capitanich as chief of cabinet. Both Aníbal Fernández and Capitanich singled themselves out with inflammatory comments as the scandal broke over Fernández de Kirchner's indictment and Nisman's death. (MercoPress, Feb. 26)

One day before all this, opposition lawmaker Elisa Carrió accused Fernández de Kirchner of planning an "autogolpe," or self-coup—the term used in Latin America for a president's suspension of congress and the constitution and seizure of dictatorial powers. Carrió told a TV interviewer: "Where is all this going? A coup d'etat. By whom? By Cristina Kirchner." She called on the Organization of American States to take note. (La Nación, Feb. 25)

This is certinaly giving the Kirchneristas a taste of their own medicine. Throughout this affair, they've been making ugly noises accusing their accusers of arranging a "judicial coup." Whether or not they have their own "self-coup" planned, it is certainly an abuse of the language to cynically invoke Argentina's fascist past to tar the healthy functioning of an independent judiciary! That's almost as good as accusing the massive Feb. 18 march demanding justice for Nisman (a Jew investigating a deadly terror attack on Jews) of being an "anti-Semitic outbreak." Orwell would blush.

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