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ARGENTINA | 08-11-2019 17:24

UCR's Cornejo slams 'irresponsible' Fernández over Milagro Sala comments

President-elect accused of "anti-republican behaviour" after saying jailed Túpac Amaru leader "does not deserve to be detained." Sala, meanwhile, says she wants to run for governorship of Jujuy Province.

Jailed social activist Milagro Sala is the subject of a war of words between outgoing Mendoza Province Governor Alfredo Cornejo and president-elect Alberto Fernández.

The National Committee of the UCR (Unión Cívica Radical) criticised Argentina's next head of state on Friday, the morning after the broadcasting of an interview with the Frente de Todos leader, in which he suggested Sala should be freed from jail.

"She does not deserve to be detained," Fernández said in an interview broadcast on Russian television this week, discussing the jailed social leader.

On Friday, Cornejo described the comments as "irresponsible" and implied the president-elect would said bluntly that his party was "concerned about the next Argentina."

Multiple human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, consider Sala to be arbitrarily detained and have called for her release. The government has not complied with a UN directive ordering she be released.

The jujeña social leader has spent the last four years detained, either at the Alto Comedero Penitentiary Complex or home in the Cuyaya neighbourhood of San Salvador de Jujuy.

"We have a case, that of a social leader, Milagro Sala, which just started under the government of [Mauricio] Macri," Fernández said in an interview with former Ecuador president Rafael Correa broadcast on Russia's RT television channel.

"Milagro, for years, treated me very badly. Frankly, we had many political differences. But she does not deserve to be detained," he added.

"What am I going to do? Why does she have differences with me? Am I going to validate an illegal detention [order]? That is not living in a rule of law," Fernández said.

Fernández's comments came days after former Supreme Court justice Eugenio Zaffaroni called on the State to "intervene in the Judiciary of the province of Jujuy," saying he agreed she was arbitrarily detained.

The leader of the Túpac Amaru organisation and piquetero activist has been jailed for almost four years on charges related to the alleged diversion of public funds designated for housing construction. Her sentence, handed down for "unlawful association, fraudulent public administration and extortion," is due to run 13 years.

Sala also has another conviction and a four-year sentence for inflicting "serious injuries" on another social leader in the province.

Condemnation

Fernández's remarks drew condemnation from members of the UCR, a key party in Mauricio Macri's Juntos por el Cambio coalition.

On Twitter, the party's account described the sentences as "legitimate" and expressed concern about the "institutional gravity" of the president-elect's comments.

"I say it very clearly: 10.8 million Argentines who voted for the Republic will not allow it. I hope that Alberto Fernández does not listen to these attempts to overwhelm an entire province," added UCR national deputy Mario Negri in a separate post.

The UCR's National Committee described the comments as "strongly irresponsible" and said they painted "a scenario of institutional vulnerability."

"The alarming statements of President-elect Alberto Fernández, who said that Túpac Amaru de Jujuy leader Milagro Sala does not deserve to be detained, fills us with concern," read a party committee signed by Cornejo and UCR Secretary General José Cano.

The document highlighted the Supreme Court's confirmation of the ruling and described Fernández's behaviour as "anti-republican."

"There is no reason to affirm that the detention of Sala is illegal, since she is also being investigated in dozens of cases and the sentences are the result of federal and provincial lawsuits, legitimate and with the guarantees of a democratic rule of law," continued the document. "Alberto Fernández, as a lawyer and a law professor, should know or advise himself better."

Sala wants gubernatorial run

Speaking on Tuesday, Sala said that she had "high hopes [and] a lot of faith" in Fernández's incoming government.

She also floated plans about a potential run for the post of governor of Jujuy Province, saying she wanted to "rebuild everything that both Gerardo Morales and Mauricio Macri destroyed."
"After the elections I saw a lot of joy" the social leader told Futurock, describing the last four years as "horrible" and "painful." 

"When I regain my freedom I will be able to tell everything about how my family suffered. I do not wish the things we went through on anyone," Sala said.

"We will not forget this government," she added, referring to the Mauricio Macri administration. "We will remember it badly."

"My dream is to run for the next election for governor. I will go out to rebuild everything that both the governments of Gerardo Morales and Macri destroyed."

– TIMES/PERFIL/NA

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