Chile: Piñera may be first president ousted by Pandora Papers, says Sputnik, by Francisco Bravo Atias for Sputnik. 07/10/2021.
Although many believed it was possible for Chilean opposition parties to initiate constitutional impeachment proceedings against President Sebastián Piñera after being mentioned in the investigation known as the" Pandora Papers " on tax havens, no one expected it to happen so quickly.
On Sunday, October 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the report, taking Chileans by surprise who did not know that their president would be one of the 35 world leaders cited in it.
On October 4, opposition parliamentarians were talking in the halls about the possibility of an" impeachment " and some dared to reveal the idea to the media, but the idea still seemed very premature.
However, on Tuesday, 5, a group of deputies formed by representatives of all opposition groups met for hours in a congress hall and together they decided to submit a request for the removal of Piñera. From the traditional left of the Communist Party to the conservative center-left of the Christian Democrats, they shook hands and took the step.
The coordination of the opposition and the fact that the legislative and presidential elections are less than two months away are two factors that generate uncertainty on the political scene and that worry the government, whose lawyers have already begun to organize the defense before Congress to prevent Piñera from becoming the first president in the world to be ousted by the Pandora Papers scandal.
In November 2019, a month after the social crisis of massive protests that put the Piñera government in check, the opposition filed a historic constitutional charge seeking to oust the president, which only happened in 1956, when the Chamber of deputies refused to oust then-President Carlos Ibañez (1952-1958).
Piñera was accused of having political responsibility for the human rights violations committed by the Armed Forces in suppressing the demonstrations, but the initiative did not prosper because it did not find full support in the Christian Democratic Party (center-left).
Now the Catholic party has aligned itself with the opposition, and if the entire sector voted in favor, it would add 83 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, more than the necessary 78. The worst thing for the president is that some deputies of his own coalition were not categorical in his defense, and some even criticized him.
"It is difficult to believe that the president did not know about this business, in which all his direct relatives are involved," Camila Flores, a deputy of the National Renewal Party, in government, told local media Chilevisión.
"Enough of being a passive accomplice to your business," Deputy Cristián Labbé, of the also ruling Independent Democratic Union, told CNN Chile.
Piñera's hopes are concentrated in the Senate, the body charged with ratifying or rejecting the House's decision. The initiative needs 29 votes out of 43 to pass, and the opposition has only 24 seats. But some pro-government senators also lagged behind their leader. Manuel Ossandón, senator for the Renovación Nacional, said at a press conference:"I vote in conscience, and if I have to vote in favor because my conscience says that sin was committed there, I will do it and my hand will not tremble".
Claudia Mix is one of the promoters of both this complaint and that of 2019. In conversation with the Sputnik agency, she explained that the reason for filing the impeachment is that “Chile does not have a repeal referendum or any instrument of direct democracy for citizens to supervise the president of the Republic, turning the constitutional accusation into the main formula of control”.
"There are those who say not to make these denunciations because if they are rejected, the figure of the president can come out even more strengthened. I think that's a myth. In addition, we have the obligation and duty in the face of such serious facts, as the courts and the prosecutor's Office follow the criminal side,” she said.
The legislator stressed that the president's version that he did not know about his business in tax havens is implausible. "No one can believe that Piñera did not talk about it with his children or with his best friend for five years. Neither parliamentarians nor citizens are dumb, the head of government is lying to us, becoming perhaps the worst president Chile has ever had," she said.
The Pandora Papers showed that in 2010, during the exercise of his first term (2010-2014), Piñera companies sold the property of one of the most important and ambitious mining projects of recent times in the country, Minera Dominga, in a transaction carried out in the territory of the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.
The President's companies, run by his sons, sold their share of the project to Carlos Délano, one of the country's most important entrepreneurs and the president's best friend in a 152 million deal. The investigation revealed that one of the conditions for the realization of the operation was that the land where the enterprise is not to be declared a natural reserve, a decision that depends on the President of the Republic himself and has not happened to date.
In defense, Piñera says he never knew about the deals his companies were doing because when he took his first term (2010-2014) he handed them over to a "blind trust", that is, in which the beneficiaries are unaware of their investments.
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