BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced on Friday before Congress an end to impunity in his country and that, if the judiciary so requires, all citizens including the head of state and his family must give an accounting of their finances.
“Impunity is over and in that sense we’re doing better than in 2015,” the president said in his speech at the opening of the Legislative Assembly’s ordinary sessions.
In the final address to Congress of his presidency, which began in late 2015, Macri said that “a profound change in the exercise of power” has been effected by his administration.
Amid the applause of ruling-party lawmakers and jeers from some members of the opposition, the head of state said that today Argentina has “a government that combats the mafias and prevents corruption.”
Macri underscored the Law of Repentance, promoted and passed by his party’s lawmakers, which, he said “has become key to the progress of lawsuits in the courts,” especially those that have the previous governments of Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and Cristina Fernandez (2007-2015) in their sights.
He noted, for example, that in 2013, Fernandez decorated Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro with the Order of the Liberator General San Martin.
“How could we have decorated Maduro when for so long he has not respected (his people’s) democracy, human rights or freedoms?” Macri asked.
He also stood up for the Necessity and Urgency Decree that he signed in January so that assets acquired by means of serious crimes like corruption and drug trafficking are confiscated by the government, a measure that some opposition lawmakers question because of its legal consequences.
At a time when the current Sen. Cristina Fernandez, absent from Congress while being tried on several counts, claims to be the object of political and judicial persecution, Macri said that his government “respects the independence of the judiciary.”
“And if the law asks for an accounting, we all must provide it – politicians, business owners, union leaders, the judges themselves, journalists, even the family of the president and the president as well,” he said.
In his speech, Macri also asked Congress to pass a new Penal Code with a juvenile delinquency clause that lowers the age of criminal responsibility to 15.
He also said that when he came to power, the poverty level trended downward for two years, but is now on the rise again due to the economic crisis, but added that making “important changes” in the country can bring some hard times with it.
“But because it’s difficult and takes time doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” he said.
Macri, who took office in December 2015, delivered to Congress the fourth and final speech of his presidency, largely based on the legislative proposals of his party and a state of the nation evaluation at a time marked by economic crisis – thanks to the drought and devaluation of the Argentine peso – and months before next October’s presidential election.