NATIONAL POLITICS

Family Piñera called to appear before constitutional accusation commission

SANTIAGO – President Sebastián Piñera and his family have been summoned to appear before the review commission that is handling the constitutional accusation against him. This second attempt to impeach the president was set in motion after revelations from the Pandora Papers. With the initial round of the presidential election less than a month away, Piñera is now, more than ever, a serious liability to his party and favored candidate.

As the constitutional accusation against President Sebastián Piñera advances, he and his family have been summoned to address the constitutional commission that is handling the case. Earlier this week, local media reported that Piñera is likely to send only his lawyers.

Lower house opposition lawmakers started the accusation after the recent Pandora Papers leak revealed a hitherto unknown contract related to the Dominga copper project. Piñera’s family sold a stake in it to his friend and one of the multimillion-dollar payment installments was conditioned on the project avoiding tight environmental regulations. The prior administration paved the way for such regulations, effectively blocking the project, but the Piñera administration withdrew them.

If the accusation succeeds, Piñera could be removed from office immediately.

Opposition starts impeachment procedure against Piñera

All 83 opposition members of Chile’s Lower House are set to approve the impeachment process. Overall, 78 votes are required to move it to the Senate. 

If it makes it to the Senate, then Chile’s senators would have to act as a jury to decide the president’s fate.

This is the second impeachment attempt against Piñera, who faced a similar process over human rights violation claims related to the 2019 social uprising. That process did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority vote in the Senate, but this time the opposition claims it has the numbers to instantly remove Piñera from office.

The impeachment comes just weeks before presidential elections start and is poised to further hurt his favorite candidate, Sebastián Sichel.

Both Piñera presidencies have been riddled with scandals, but the most recent ones have gained more traction with the changing social context and its increasingly forceful demands for accountability.

Earlier this month prosecutors also launched a bribery and tax evasion investigation related to Dominga, which has Piñera and family members facing possible criminal charges.

 

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