President Alberto Fernández has tapped Martín Soria to be Argentina’s next justice minister, replacing the departing Marcela Losardo. From now on, the Frente de Todos national deputy will occupy a key position for the government – and Kirchnerism.
Seven days have passed since Alberto Fernández announced that Losardo, his close ally, and personal friend would be stopping down. Ever since then, the name of who would head the portfolio, a key Cabinet position, has been the source of frenzied speculation in political circles.
All that has now ended with the choice of Soria, a Kirchnerite lawmaker and the son of former Río Negro Province governor Carlos "El Gringo" Soria.
After the dance of names – rumours ran from ultra-Kirchnerite leaders to some of the president’s most trusted allies – President Alberto Fernández has finally chosen a figure that’s closer to the hardcore of Kirchnerism than his own politics.
Soria, 45, was one of the names that first circulated after news of Losardo's imminent departure broke. A national deputy for the ruling Frente de Todos coalition, he has been engaged in many judicial matters from his bench. In fact, he was the one who filed a complaint against Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation judge, Gustavo Hornos, after news of his visits to ex-president Mauricio Macri became known.
The new minister is the son of Carlos Soria, the ex-governor of Río Negro Province who killed on January 1, 2012, by his wife Susana Freydoz, the lawmaker’s mother. Back in those days, Martín Soria was enjoying his first days as mayor of General Roca, where he stayed until 2019, before running for Congress. The mayoral post, however, has remained in the family despite his departure, with his sister, María Emilia Soria, assuming office.
The Rio Negro lawmaker’s profile was raised recently following his complaint, presented with fellow deputies Rodolfo Tailhade and Eduardo Valdés, against Hornos, who allegedly made at least six visits to the Casa Rosada during the Macri administration’s time if office.
As a serving deputy, the 45-year-old has presented 16 bills, the most of which was in December 2020. That sought to improve access to the justice system for victims of gender violence and create a commission to guarantee that right. He has also proposed legislation to allow an exemption from IVA for critical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as another that would modify the Penal Code in order to toughen penalties for those convicted of concealing crimes of a sexual nature.
It was last Monday that President Fernández said, during an interview with the C5N news channel, that Losardo would be leaving office. He said she was “overwhelmed” and not prepared for the “new stage that is to come,” a reference to the government’s judicial reform bid.
Whoever was to take on the position had to understand that only the figure at the top of the portfolio would be renewed and that they’d be heading a ministry that is dominated by Kirchnerism.
A glance down the Ministry’s organisation chart says as much. Not only does Justice Secretary Juan Martín Mena appear, there are also figures like Human Rights Secretary Horacio Pietragalla, and Undersecretary for Penitentiary Affairs, María Laura Garrigós de Rébori and Treasury Attorney General Carlos Zannini.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner spoke with the head of state about Losardo's replacement recently, before immediately travelling to El Calafate. From there she waited for the decision to be made official, although it is understood she had already given her consent.
During the last seven days of uncertainty, the president repeated ad nauseam that he would take his time. And he assured that, as a lawyer, it is an area about which he has the greatest amount of knowledge. That’s why he underlined that the final proposed name would be his decision, and his alone.