Decriminalizing drugs, another Kirchner move that divides opposition

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May 14, 2012
Martín Bravo
Clarin, Argentina

English Translation

Before spring, it will not be a crime to possess or grow drugs for personal consumption. At least this is what Kirchner legislators and opposition sectors say; they are confident that after a four month debate in both houses, decriminalization will be signed into law. This afternoon, there will be a joint meeting at the house of Ricardo Gil Lavedra – driver of one of the projects – to unify a text and consent to the legislative strategy. With the green light from the Casa Rosada, the government will assert its majority to push the change, although in this case it will not be acting alone; it moves forward with a section of the arch opponent: the UCR and the Broad Progressive Front. In contrast, the PRO and the PJ will be on the opposite side.

A supporter of decriminalization even during his time as chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez has pushed the initiative forward since becoming a senator. But the debate will begin with the Deputies, put forward by the ruling party, because it will have higher support there. Anibal F. will meet with Gil Lavedra today and with the rest of those that have similar projects: Diana Conti (FPV), Victoria Donda (Libres del Sur) and Fabián Peralta (GEN). Also participating will be Oscar Albrieu, head of the Commission on Penal Legislation, and Horacio Pietragalla, Addictions and Drug Trafficking Control.

The Project will establish the decriminalization of the possession and cultivation of all drugs for personal consumption, limited by what is defined as “lethal potential” of the quantity found. This will be resolved by a judge, something which Donda questions. “It would be better to only initiate if there is proof of merchandising,” she said, but she will give her support.

The scheme of support and rejections will be similar to the expropriation of YPF. Kirchners, FAP, Proyecto Sur, and most of the radicals will vote in favor, and the principal resistance will come from ‘Macrismo’ and the non-Kirchner Peronists.

“There is a common nucleus, which is to decriminalize the consumer. Taking this as a base, we can advance,” said Peralta. “Afterwards, it will be discussed in each block,” said Gil Lavedra. Some spaces will remain divided, such as the radicals: Mario Fiad, head of Addictions, told public audiences that the projects “are a ploy to delay treatment.”

The PRO is already the principal objector, accompanied by the Peronist dissident Eduardo Amadeo, among others. In a seminar with Cornelia Schmidt Liermann on Thursday, almost all of the speakers pronounced themselves against. Anibal Fernandez, Gil Lavedra, and Donda were invited but none attended. Within Kirchner supporters, there are some who are reluctant, although the majority says that they will abide by Cristina’s implicit approval. Jose Granero was replaced in the Secretariat of the Fight against Drug Trafficking by Rafael Bielsa, who is in favor of decriminalization. In contrary to abortion, in the meeting on reforms to the Penal Code, the President did not object. “Since there is a consensus, we will try,” said a Kirchner supporter, certain of approval of the measure.

View the article in Spanish.

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