Procedure to repeal the Longueira Law for corruption stirs the waters of Rejection weeks before the plebiscite

One week after the noisy and unsuccessful first session of the Senate’s Commission on Maritime Interests, Fisheries and Aquaculture, in which the project to annul the so-called Longueira Law was discussed, and which had to be suspended due to the absence of all Its members – with the exception of its president, Senator Daniel Núñez (PC) – advanced their discussion this Wednesday in the Upper House, which will continue beyond the September 4 plebiscite. It is a legislative procedure that, according to its author, is directly related to the result of the constitutional process, and that is related to a law known for the corruption involved between fishermen and parliamentarians, and that, according to unions invited to participate in these sessions in Congress, has greatly benefited businessmen linked to industrial fishing.

After more than five years in process, the bill to annul the Fisheries Law was approved last Monday, August 8, in the Chamber of Deputies, with 117 votes in favor, none against and 20 abstentions. Within the latter, there are parliamentarians from Chile Vamos and the Republican Party, in addition to DC Miguel Ángel Calisto. It is worth mentioning that this project seeks to abolish Law 20,657, created during the management of the former Minister of Economy in the first government of Sebastián Piñera and former UDI militant, Pablo Longueira, which modifies access to industrial and artisanal fishing activity, as well as its corresponding regulations for its investigation and control.

The former minister and former parliamentarian, whose name refers to this noisy law, is also one of those accused of bribery in the SQM Case, where the irregular financing of politics is investigated and which is now in its final stretch, after at the end of Last July, the preparation of the oral trial against eight defendants –among them, Longueira–, in addition to the former manager of SQM, Patricio Contesse, was completed. Now, it only remains to know the date on which they must appear in court, which could be the epilogue of one of the most controversial cases associated with political silver, such as the Corpesca case itself, for which former parliamentarian Jaime Orpis He is deprived of liberty and serving a sentence of 5 years and 1 day, for tax fraud and bribery.

In this context, last week, Senator Daniel Núñez, through social networks, evidenced the absence of his parliamentary colleagues at the first session of the Fisheries Commission, where the project would be discussed, in a gesture that did not go down well. among some legislators, considering that the Senate lacks a clear structure for penalizing absences – as is the case in the Chamber of Deputies and Deputies – and that it is rather governed by a “gentleman’s agreement” logic, according to accounts from the Congress. In this regard, Núñez believes that what bothered the public was that with this fact a signal was being given that they were not taking charge of a problem of legitimacy associated with the current Fisheries Law and “the corruption that surrounds it”, showing themselves “totally unaware of citizen concerns”. In addition, the parliamentarian adds that “if there is criticism, the truth is that it does not affect me, because here we have to act diligently and there is nothing more logical and transparent than saying, in a session of Congress, who is present and who is absent. , and even more so if that absence prevents the session from taking place”.

Regarding the beginning of this discussion in the Senate, the communist legislator points out that “here it is necessary to understand that this has as a consequence that it is being recognized that the current Fishing Law (Law Longueira) has a vice of illegitimacy and corruption, which has stained democratic institutions to date, and in the face of which it is necessary to repair that damage, and the way to repair it is to disregard the legitimacy of the act that generated this Fisheries Law and the rights it gave. Because the fishing industry, which has been seen benefited from the ownership of the fish, was benefited through an act of corruption, which has already been resolved by the Justice with sentences that have a former senator in prison and a former deputy with a conviction that is also relevant”.

In addition, Senator Núñez considers that “this project responds to a very heartfelt demand from artisanal fishermen throughout Chile, and also from the national scientific community, and that is that a new Fisheries Law is required, one that has legitimacy and that addresses much better way a series of problems that have not been well resolved, particularly what is known as the division of ownership of the fish, which remained mostly in the hands of the fishing industry, which has favored a policy of depredation and marginalization of artisanal fishing, as a relevant actor in the fishing sector”.

Precisely, from the National Assembly of Artisanal Fishermen -one of the groups that says it is most affected by the aforementioned law, and which celebrates the progress of the annulment project in the Upper House-, its adviser, Gigliola Centonzio, points out that one of The profound damage caused by the so-called Longueira Law was the “perpetual fragmentation” for the benefit of industrial fishing and “to the detriment of an important sector of artisanal fishing.” In this regard, Centonzio details that on several occasions attempts have been made and some proposals for other fisheries administration regimes, but he points out that “it has not been possible due to the rigidity of this delivery in perpetuity that was delivered to the industrial sector , and a division of artisanal fishing quotas. So, on that side, we see with great hope that hopefully this annulment will take place as soon as possible, which, of course, has to come hand in hand with a new Fisheries Law, that it finally do historical justice to a sector that has been seriously harmed”.

“Longueira Law” and its relationship with the constituent process

One of the criticisms from the right points to the urgency of this process prior to the plebiscite on September 4, because they believe that their discussion could be “instrumentalized” in favor of Approval. This was recognized by one of the members of the Commission on Maritime Interests, Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Upper House, Senator Iván Moreira (UDI), who succinctly said, in one of the corridors of the National Congress, that although he was in favor of the annulment of this Law, did not coincide in that its discussion was directly linked to the constituent process. Moreover, during his presentation to the commission, Moreira asked that the project be declared unconstitutional. “A new law is one thing, and here I use the regulations to point out the unconstitutionality of this bill. There is no annulment, there is a repeal and (…) this urgency is done on the occasion of the next plebiscite,” the intervention closed. of the. A relationship that, however, for the president of the instance, is indissoluble.

“The result of the Plebiscite, for the annulment and generation of a new Fisheries Law, is fundamental. Within the framework of the current Constitution, and if the Rejection wins it would remain in force, the annulment becomes much more difficult from the constitutional point of view and also the generation of a new Fisheries Law, because the fishing companies are going to argue acquired rights on the property of the fish, which would imply multimillion-dollar compensation, if the division is changed. So, the political feasibility of creating a new Fisheries Law that correctly resolves fish ownership, that establishes the country’s ownership of fishery resources, requires the generation of this new Constitution, and that is why it is The step of approval is so important”, points out Senator Núñez (PC).

Specifically, the parliamentarian -author of the annulment project- adds that, if the new Magna Carta is approved, “the current rights that the fishing industry obtained illegitimately and corruptly, become precarious rights, which do not have the same compensation payments and compensatory, and they are rights that can be disregarded through the annulment act”. In addition, Núñez assures that “the worst thing that can happen to Chile is that we hide the issues. The truth is that in the debate on the plebiscite and the new Constitution, this is an issue that directly dialogues, and that is why it has been so pertinent to discuss it now in the Senate”.

From the National Assembly of Artisanal Fishermen, however, they assume the debate with greater caution. Although they recognize that the proposed new Constitution, within its regulations, contains the explicit possibility of annulling a law, they believe that, beyond the result of the plebiscite on September 4, “there is no excuse not to annul this law. As detailed one of the association’s advisers, Gigliola Centonzio, “the democratic principle is already enshrined in the current Constitution, and it has already been demonstrated by the Courts of Justice that money ruled an important part of the provisions of the Fisheries Law and that is where the The Senate, just as the Chamber of Deputies did, has to vindicate itself and respond to the citizens, because the laws are mandated on behalf of the citizens, and cannot be mandated by money, and no one can or should benefit from it” .

Although there is no certainty as to how long the discussion on the annulment of the controversial Longueira Law will last in the Senate Fisheries Commission, the truth is that the talks will continue after September 4, considering that this Friday, August 19 A new district week begins. Although they assume from this instance that the discussion must take place quickly, the participation of other actors is still lacking, such as representatives of industrial fishing, who did not participate in this first session. The truth is that from the ruling party they strive so that this procedure serves to symbolize a claim by a political class, which in the case of the aforementioned Longueira Law –and as determined by the Courts of Justice– showed its worst face: tainted with corruption and abuse of power.

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