Clarin/Cristina Fernandez legal battle rages on with a new appeal
The Argentine government submitted on Tuesday morning an extraordinary recourse before the Federal Civil and Commercial Court against the extension of the Clarín Group’s injunction to comply with the Media Law, granted by the Civil and Commercial Court N° 1.
The new appeal was submitted by the Cabinet Chief’s office in another attempt to skip court N°1 and make the Federal Civil and Commercial Court take the case directly to the Supreme Court, even though the latter unanimously dismissed the government’s recourse to the legal mechanism called “per saltum” on Monday.
Furthermore, the administration of Cristina Fernandez will seek to impeach the judges of the Federal Civil and Commercial Court for ruling on the injunction extension. Judicial sources told the Buenos Aires newspaper Ambito Financiero that Judge Susana Najurieta will be denounced before Thursday in the hope of her revoking.
The Upper House Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman Senator Marcelo Fuentes (Victory Front— Neuquén) asserted that even though the decision to start an impeachment trial has already “been taken,” they have to “analyze” whether to charge all three members of the Civil and Commercial Court or only Najurieta.
After the Argentine government submitted the extraordinary recourse before the Federal Civil and Commercial Court, Justice Minister Julio Alak showed his disagreement.
“We are seeking for the annulment of the injunction extension that has already become eternal and only looks to deny the Media Law”, Alak told reporters.
“It’s been three years since the approval of the Media Law and the civil and commercial court in charge of the injunction extended to Clarín Group has shown nothing but contradictions. They have even gone against the Supreme Court that was very clear on May 22 when it indicated that the injunction was to last until December 7.”
“Furthermore, on November 27 the Supreme Court said that a final verdict should be given on the topic as an injunction extension was not an option.”
The administration of President Cristina Fernandez is obsessed with breaking up the Clarin media group, which is described as a monopoly and thus her intention to ‘democratize’ media access and coverage. However it is well known and there is abundant evidence to that effect that the Argentine president does not tolerate dissident much less opposition press and has targeted Clarin, until 2007 an ally of her deceased husband Nestor Kirchner government.
The Clarin group sins have been not to follow obediently the government’s interests and particularly since 2008 when it made an ample coverage of the farmers’ conflict, the first great political defeat of the Kirchner couple followed by the significant erosion suffered in the mid term elections of 2009, precisely the year when the Media Law was pushed through Congress.
But Cristina Fernandez managed a spectacular comeback in 2011 when she was re-elected with 54% of the vote and no opposition contenders on sight. Massive subsidies to keep public utility rates frozen and the spurring of the domestic market with generous salaries increases made the difference plus public opinion sorrow for the loss of her husband in 2010.
Since then the legal battle has raged with Clarin objecting the constitutionality of several articles of the Media Bill and the Cristina Fernandez administration threatening and bullying the Judicial branch to speed the break up of the group.
Clarin has an annual turnover of 2 billion dollars, over 240 licences and if not a monopoly a dominant position in radio, television and cable television which makes it a formidable enemy. Furthermore the Executive fierce, at times blind attacks have turned Clarin into the victim of government encroachment on freedom of the press and freedom of speech gaining international support.