After the referendum that ratified the full validity of the Law of Urgent Consideration (LUC), the Legislative year will begin in the Senate with a rarefied atmosphere, the result of the intense campaign of recent months. Next Monday, all the benches will put on the table the list of priorities that they intend to achieve in the coming months. But, beyond the emphasis on one or another project and political differences, there is an element that will conspire against the harmonious functioning of the chamber.
It is traditional that, at the beginning of each legislature, the different political forces share the committee chairs based on your votes. The designation of each president depends on the party to which a certain commission has corresponded and the rest is limited to approving it without discussion. This is marked by parliamentary tradition.
The problem is in the presidency of the Education Commission of the Senatewhich in 2020 was headed by Carmen Sanguinetti, and last year by Silvia Nane. The rotation now points to the National Party. And there the suggested name is that of Senator Graciela Bianchi.
If this happens, the Broad Front will deny, as a political signal, the vote of support for the senator. This was reported by La Diario, and confirmed to The Observer Senator Enrique Rubio. The definition will be taken next Monday, when the opposition bench evaluates its priorities.
“It’s an issue we’re going to consider,” Rubio pointed out. The explanation: the accumulation of “disagreements, episodes and actions” that the senator has been accumulating in recent times and that have generated a “state of sensitivity” on the opposition bench.
The opposition’s questions go through two aspects. One is her profuse actions on the social network Twitter, of which Bianchi is a regular user. “He has had a very aggressive sequence of tweets,” Rubio pointed out. Beyond Bianchi’s publications there, the Frente Amplio legislator emphasized several personal episodes that his nationalist colleague had starred in in recent months.
The most serious, according to the Broad Front, happened in mid-November last year. The Constitution and Legislation Commission of the Senate received some delegations in the framework of the discussion of the mandatory house arrest project for people over 65 years of age, presented by Cabildo Abierto. At that time, Bianchi was annoyed with the continuous entry of the press to record images, which led to a harsh confrontation with the senators from the Front.
Tempers heated up, until Rubio accused Bianchi of “being out of his mind.” The Senator’s reaction was forceful: “You are daring. With what you just said, if I enforce the gender-based violence law, you end up in the Prosecutor’s Office, because it is symbolic violence,” I answer.
The exchange motivated the Broad Front claim days later a pronouncement of the Senate on the attitudes of the legislator on this and other episodes. The opposition caucus asked the chamber to apply the article 115 of the Constitution, which establishes that “any of its members may be corrected for disorderly conduct in the performance of their functions and even suspended in the exercise of the same, by two-thirds of the votes of the total of its components.” Also that, by the same number of votes, he may “remove him due to physical impossibility or mental incapacity supervening his incorporation, or for acts of conduct that would make him unworthy of his position, after his proclamation.”
The request of the Broad Front was never applied. “This is a senator who has generated enormous resistance and who, as is understood, broke all the codes,” Rubio said. The left had also questioned Bianchi for a request for information that the senator had made requesting information on the functional situation of the president of the Association of Officials of UTU (Afutu), Mabel Mallo, who starred in a public counterpoint with President Luis Lacalle Pou. The opposition understood that the senator’s actions went against the full exercise of freedom of association and expression.
For Rubio, the Bianchi thing poses a fundamental problem, since it goes against what the Broad Front does not want, which is to “cultivate the gap” and that Uruguayan politics ends up assimilating to what happens in other countries. “You have to be careful,” he said.
Since the presidency of the commission belongs to the National Party, the alternative to Bianchi is Senator Gustavo Penadés. However, the FA will not be able to avoid the designation, since he is in the minority in Education. Bianchi, Penadés and Sanguinetti are joined by lobbyist Guido Manini Ríos. As representatives of the opposition, in addition to Nane, are Liliam Kechichian and Sebastián Sabini.
Another of the episodes by which the opposition resists Bianchi’s appointment as head of the Education Commission is the confrontation that he carried out earlier this month in the middle of a chamber session with the Frente Amplio member Amanda Della Ventura, who has just been appointed as a of the vice presidents of the Senate. Bianchi, who was presiding over that session, demanded that Della Ventura stop using Yes symbology for the referendum against the LUC that he had been wearing on his clothes.
The request degenerated into a harsh exchange, which culminated in a strong political statement by the FA once the incident was over.
There have been several figures identified with the opposition who ask that President Luis Lacalle Pou and other main government actors put “limits” on the nationalist senator. At the beginning of this year, the president of the Broad Front, Fernando Pereira, had considered that the National Party should “take action on the matter” after Bianchi spoke of an “infiltration” in the Judiciary.
Recently, the president of the Ancap Federation (Fancap), Gerardo Rodríguez, announced that he had sent a letter to President Lacalle indicating that he was analyzing denouncing Bianchi and asking him to put an end to the “nonsense” of the senator, whom he accused of “assaulting, misrepresent and attempt to intimidate through alleged secret and unconstitutional investigations”, referring to the senator’s questioning of her functional role in the public company and her role in the referendum against the LUC.
“Lacalle knows that I am not speaking in vain,” Bianchi had told The Observer at the end of February, by assuring that the president never called his attention. “We don’t need to talk, we guess,” he pointed out. “You know you can’t scold me.”