Socialist deputy Jaime Naranjo arrived at the Chilean Congress this Monday (8) carrying a folder with 1,300 sheets of paper. Your goal: read a speech for 13 hours. The task is part of a strategy to extend the session until midnight and, thus, wait for an opposition colleague who can only leave the house this Tuesday (9).
Giorgio Jackson is in a period of isolation for having had contact with a person infected with the coronavirus. Despite being released by a negative PCR test, he has to be quarantined until midnight.
The reason for the effort to count on Jackson is the theme discussed in this Monday’s session: the opening of the impeachment process for the current Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera. The opposition wants to approve the text, for which 78 votes are needed. With both parties counting votes one by one, the participation of each parliamentarian is considered essential.
The session began at 10 am, with the reading of the indictment — this, in turn, already has 99 pages. The accusatory text, presented by the opposition on October 13, deals with the “violation of the principle of probity and the serious compromise of the nation’s honor.”
The indictment against Piñera, whose term ends in March 2022 —the presidential elections will be held on the 21st of June—, began after the release of the so-called Pandora Papers. The journalistic investigation, led by the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists), revealed that the agent had carried out an operation with a potential conflict of interest involving an offshore account in the British Virgin Islands.
The sale of mining company Dominga, which belonged to the family of the current head of the Executive, was closed in 2010, the year in which Piñera also occupied the Presidency of Chile. According to news reports, the buyer, a close friend of the politician, demanded that an environmental area not be created in the company’s operating zone, which would hinder the exploration of ore in the region.
The transaction, which involved US$152 million (R$838 million), would be divided into three installments, the last of which would only be released if the protection area required by activists was not established. At the time, the government ended up not delimiting the area as a green zone, and the payment, therefore, would have been confirmed.
In addition to the possibility of Congress starting the political judgment, the Chilean Public Ministry opened an investigation into the transaction.
In Monday’s session, Naranjo’s speech lined up pro-impeachment arguments — from impacts on the environment involving the mining company’s operation to technical points in the Constitution about barring a president and the use of offshore accounts.
The deputy took a brief afternoon break, during which a doctor took his blood pressure and informed the bench that he was free to continue speaking and participate in the vote. In another four 15-minute breaks, he was able to go to the bathroom.
He even paused in his speech several times advising him that he would take “a little water”.
Earlier, Giorgio Jackson, the quarantined congressman, recorded a video to be shared with congressmen, asking deputies to vote seriously and saying that he would be ready to go to Congress in Valparaiso as soon as his quarantine ended.
“This is a president who has placed his will above the interests of Chileans and the country’s environment, this accusation is serious and must be calmly evaluated, no matter how many hours it takes,” he said.
Neither Piñera nor his congressional supporters questioned the opposition’s strategy. According to the president’s defense, as the disputed case has no merit, filing an appeal would be to acknowledge this point. “Our defense is against the fundamental issue, the lack of merit of the prosecution,” said lawyer Jorge Gálvez.
Until this text was updated, at 10 pm, Naranjo continued to speak. His speech lasted 11 hours.