President Alberto Fernández has ordered officials in his administration to oppose the Buenos Aires City government’s move to continue with in-person classes, setting up a battle in the courts over the Peronist leader’s recently tightened restrictions against Covid-19.
According to multiple reports in local outlets, the national government has decided on a two-pronged legal challenge to challenge City Hall’s decision to keep schools open.
Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta announced in a press conference late Sunday that in-person classes in the capital would take place despite the president’s wishes, saying he would adhere to a court ruling earlier in the day by a City appeals court.
Sources close to the Presidency say Sunday’s ruling by the Chamber of Appeals in Administrative, Tax and Consumer Relations in Buenos Aires, issued in response to two legal appeals from NGOs, sparked anger in the Casa Rosada. Government officials questioned the court’s jurisdiction and described the ruling as “political.” They believe the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition lobbied strongly for it.
Reports on Monday morning said that Fernández had instructed Treasury Attorney Carlos Zannini to appear before the Federal Administrative Litigation forum to challenge the court’s jurisdiction, while endorsing a separate appeal from the Health Ministry filed with the City appeals court that issued the ruling.
The objective of both suits is to validate the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) issued by the president last week that suspended face-to-face classes in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) between April 19 and 30.
Fernández described that the ruling is "a legal mess" in an interview on Sunday, saying the court was “taking measures that are the exclusive domain of federal justice.”
"A sanitary measure from the national government is suspended by the Buenos Aires justice system, a local jurisdiction, [which is] manifestly incompetent in resolving federal issues," said the president.
The national government’s Justice Minister Martín Soria also criticised the ruling on Twitter, describing it as “political.”
As the row continued, demonstrations in support of the continuation of classes took place at schools in and around Buenos Aires Province, as well as outside the Olivos presidential residence.
Protests took place in San Miguel, Vicente López, Benavidez and San Isidro, as well as other locations, with parents gathering to form rings outside schools while applauding.