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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 11-07-2020 09:15

It’s not Fabián Gutiérrez, it’s Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a province with archaic laws, a dangerous political centralisation and a scary scope for discretion.

Let’s suppose that the murder of Fabián Gutiérrez really was, as anticipated by the judicial investigation, a cut-and-dried case – that the former president’s secretary was seduced by a youth and fell into the trap of an organisation only out for his money, killing him in those circumstances as cruelly as they did without caring to find any reasons for inflicting such long suffering on their victim. Let’s suppose that it was so, that the entire narrative coming from Santa Cruz until now is real, that the opposition statement really was “dastardly” and that the case should be closed right now, cremating the corpse of Gutiérrez, burying his ashes and forgetting all about him.

Even then, there is one case which can never be closed: is Santa Cruz the nation promised to us by Kirchnerismo? In that case, what remains exposed is Santa Cruz. A quasi-feudal provincial model where a tiny group of families has administered power for 30 years without interruption. With the world’s most fraudulent electoral law – the Ley de Lemas combined primary-election system – and a specious mingling of powers. The prosecutor is the daughter of the governor, who in turn is the ex-president’s sister-in-law, while the judge investigating the case is an ex-militant of the party of them both. Meanwhile, the main suspect is the grandson of the notary who rubberstamped the sale of thousands of square metres of former airport site by the former president (husband of the current vice-president), who also bought up some of that terrain for peanuts. And, of course, the victim of the crime was no more or less than the last private secretary of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in her presidency, who had denounced her in court as a whistleblower, explaining the presumed cash flow mechanism of ex-president Néstor Kirchner, who only trusted his secretary, Daniel Muñoz, who is also dead.

Get it? The problem is not any public suspicion of the ex-president because nobody in their right mind could believe her capable of ordering the killing of anybody. Or if many so think, that’s not my case. The problem is the crass Santa Cruz power system, which nobody (not even ultra-Kirchnerites) can ignore. 

Does Santa Cruz have an inquisitorial criminal justice system? How is that possible with absolute and automatic majorities for Kirchnerismo in the last 30 years? Does Santa Cruz elect its governors and mayors with the fraudulent Ley de Lemas? How is it possible that in 30 years of continuous government Kirchnerismo has not changed this system for a simpler one, less turbid and more representative of the popular will?

Are the judges ex-officials, the prosecutors the children of governors, the defence lawyers (as in the Gutiérrez case) ex-prosecutors of the same justice system in which the governments are the owners of the proposals, appointments and approvals of those judges? This is not just another crime, it’s a crime in El Calafate, the dreamland of the most powerful marriage in 21st century Argentine politics thus far. It is also the murder of a multimillionaire who could never explain how and who was indicted in a case in which he would have to testify when it goes to trial in Buenos Aires.

So, going back to the start, supposing Cristina has nothing to do with the Gutiérrez crime, the problem is no longer that – the problem is the province. Its mediaeval laws, its promiscuous relations, its anachronistic systems, its blatantly illegal business, the inexplicable mansions, the hotels built with funds of unknown origin – all in all, Santa Cruz is an archaic scenario with a dangerous political centralisation and a scary scope for discretion. That’s why nobody believes in the hypothesis of the judge nor in the motives for the crime because the tragedy is Santa Cruz apart from the cruel murder of Mr Gutierrez. 

When Kirchnerismo poses as the proprietor of progressive values concentrating all centre-left thought in Argentina, it omits the presentation of its original work, its main calling card: Santa Cruz. A province with almost nothing democratic about it, where the economy is concentrated into the hands of those who govern and where individual liberties, whether we like it or not, depends on a small group of people who have a total grip on power.

It’s not Gutiérrez, it’s Santa Cruz – and that’s far too obvious. 

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