President Alberto Fernández confirmed in a TV interview Monday evening that his long-time political ally and friend, Justice Minister Marcela Losardo, would be stepping down from her position.
The news comes with talk of judicial reform dominating local politics, after Fernández delivered a harsh criticism of the courts and judicial officials in last week’s speech opening congressional sessions.
"Marcela raised it with me last week – and it was an idea that was raised before – the idea of leaving the ministry, because she believes that the time that is coming is a time that needs another attitude," the president said in an interview broadcast Monday night.
"I want her to continue working with me, I don't want her to leave, but she has told me her decision. It is a matter of time and of getting a replacement. For me she is very important," Fernández said in an exclusive interview with the news channel C5N.
Losardo is a close ally of the president, not only as a personal friend but as a professional. The duo, whose relationship goes back decades, were partners in a law firm prior to Fernández assuming the Presidency in December 2019.
The minister's pending departure comes just a week after the president called for widespread reform of the Judiciary in his fiery March 1 speech.
"The reform of the Judiciary in its broadest dimension is also an urgent demand from society as a whole," said Fernández, who presented a bill to reform the federal courts last year, which is still waiting to be debated in the lower house Chamber of Deputies.
"We’re living in times with the judicialisation of politics and the politicisation of justice, which end up damaging democracy and public trust, because everything is disrupted," he added.
Three days later, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner let rip at the Judiciary as she gave video testimony in the so-called ‘Dollar futures’ trial against her.
"We are in a very serious institutional moment in the Argentine Republic, they cannot continue to behave like a corporation," she fired off at the judges.
The ‘dollars future’ case is one of nine corruption cases facing the former president, who led the nation from 2007 to 2015.
On Monday, Fernández compared the judicial situation facing his vice-president to that of ex-Brazil leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who earlier in the day benefitted from a ruling that overturned existing graft convictions against him.
"Today I spoke with Lula, they are cases in which a whistleblower is used to involve them, where the evidence is absolutely weak, in which they want to bend the will of the opponent to remove him from the [presidential] race," he said.
According to Fernández, "what the court has done in Brazil is proof that the 'lawfare' [alleged misuse of the law for political reasons] exists. It is recognition that there was collusion between judges and prosecutors."