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Presidents of the Senate and the House manage to avoid failure of Congressional sessions due to security agenda

The efforts deployed by the presidents of both branches of Congress with legislators from the ruling party and the opposition bore some fruit yesterday afternoon so that this week the projects on Rules for the Use of Force, the new Ministry of Security and the reform of the Law Anti-terrorists can take an important step in their legislative processing.

Around noon the head of the UDI deputies, Juan Antonio Coloma, He went up to the office of the president of the House, Karol Cariola (PC), located on the third floor of the old National Congress in Santiago in order to find an approach that would allow unblocking the security agenda.

Despite the commitment of all political forces to suspend this week’s legislative recess (“regional” in the case of senators and “district” for deputies) in order to carry out a set of initiatives against crime, after the murder of three police officers in Cañete, the talks were at a stalemate.

Until around noon, the ruling party and the opposition were engaged in a game of legislative blockades and delaying maneuvers, which put at serious risk the idea of ​​meeting in the Chamber this week to evacuate some projects on the security agenda.

In the Senate, the outlook was equally adverse. In fact, initially the Constitution Commission of the Upper House was going to meet for only two hours this Tuesday morning, between 9:30 and 11:30, to discuss the reform of the Constitution. Anti-terrorist Law, which was clearly an almost impossible task in view of the number of indications and articles that had to be voted on.

However, to try to find a way out, the president of the Senate, José García Ruminot (RN) appeared at the commission, which at that time was chaired by Senator José Miguel Insulza (PS).

The presence of García (RN), who is one of the authors and presented a package of indications to perfect the original text, had a clear objective: to pressure so that at least the anti-terrorist reform was discussed and voted on by the commission so that The Senate floor could see it on Thursday.

In the event that this reform had not been completely processed by the Constitution, the court summons would inevitably fail.

“This project is very important. We have seen this weekend how Minister Tohá and the Undersecretary have had to give explanations because in the face of an act that has all the characteristics of a terrorist act, the (terrorist) legislation cannot be applied, because that would make criminal prosecution much more difficult. That is absurd and we have the possibility of modernizing and adapting our legislation… The ideal would be that they could dispatch it today… we have it on the table,” said the head of the Upper House, trying to persuade his peers.

García’s call, however, initially had no effect.

The first to respond was the senator and head of the PC bench, Claudia Pascual, who agreed with the need to advance in a modernization of the Anti-Terrorist Law, to leave behind the ideological bias with which it was created in 1984 during the military regime. “I want to express the will to be able to move forward, but I also want to say that Thursday’s session is scheduled, it cannot be a pressure to legislate at full speed. Sorry to say it like that. The urgency is understood. But I don’t want there to be a law that we have to modify in the short term. We are with the best of will…, we must move forward as much as possible, but not finish at a gunshot (sic).”

“I agree with what Senator Pascual says. We cannot make a mistake in this,” commented, in his turn, the senator Pedro Araya (PPD), who agreed that it could not be legislated “matacacaballo”.

On the other hand, García’s position was supported by senators Luz Ebensperger (head of the UDI caucus) and Rodrigo Galilea (president of RN), who called on the government to clarify whether it shared the opinions of the pro-government senators. “I have a doubt about what the Executive’s intention is,” said Galilea.

Surprisingly, Senator Insulza, who is replacing his counterpart Alfonso de Urresti, showed a nuance. “It is expected that at least some projects will advance substantively, unfortunately some projects will hardly come out this week… We are going to do it (release the project) prudently and calmly, but we are going to do it. I am willing to meet tomorrow, but let’s try to give a signal,” said Insulza, who before expressing her position spoke with the Minister of the Interior, Carolina Tohá, who at that time was at the funerals of the murdered police officers.

Insulza’s opening was decisive, although the gesture of Senator García also helped, who decided to withdraw a large part of his indications to facilitate and not delay the discussion.

In fact, at the end of this morning’s session, the members of the commission agreed to meet again at 5 p.m. to vote until the Anti-Terrorism Law project is fully dispatched. With this, the initiative would be in a position to be voted on and approved by the Senate.

From the government’s point of view, the minister general secretary of the Presidency, Álvaro Elizalde (PS), and the legislative coordinator of the Interior, former minister Ana Lya Uriarte (PS), They did not give much light in the commission as to whether they were in favor of slowing down or speeding up the initiative so as not to contradict the official senators themselves.

However, at the political committee meeting, this Monday in La Moneda, it was the Minister of the Interior herself, Carolina Tohá, who was honest that the Anti-Terrorist Law in particular was one of the initiatives that had the green light to advance.

In fact, the project had already been discussed in the Senate Security Commission, where a technical consensus was achieved between the government and the opposition. That aspect was recalled by Elizalde this week.

Therefore, the completion of this reform was not a problem for the Executive.

However, in the discussion that was taking place in parallel in the House to move forward with the project on Rules for the Use of Force, the Executive’s position was not entirely clear.

On Monday and Tuesday, Congresswoman Maite Orsini (RD), with the support of other pro-government legislators, did not give unanimity for this initiative to be discussed until fully dispatched in the united Security and Constitution commissions.

Until yesterday morning, apparently the position of the Frente-Amplista legislator seemed to be supported by La Moneda.

“We must remove them (the projects) with a sense of urgency, but that does not mean legislating in the heat and killing horses, because the remedy can end up being worse than the disease,” said, for example, on T13 Radio, the minister spokesperson Camila Vallejo (PC).

However, in the united commissions, Minister Elizalde gave a signal apparently in the opposite direction, when he was asked if he shared Orsini’s delaying measure. “I would make the effort to legislate, because we have been wasting I don’t know how much time between yesterday and today making political points that are irrelevant to the bill,” he said.

One of the factors that would have influenced the government’s swing was the refusal of the president of the House Security Commission, the deputy Andrés Longton (RN), to summon the body and vote on the creation of a new Ministry of Security. Apparently, the Executive was pressuring so that this other initiative could be unblocked.

Faced with the risk that this game of blockades would become a legislative failure of the Chamber, Coloma offered Cariola to intercede so that the Ministry of Security could be dispatched this week, in exchange for the president of the Chamber intervening to unblock the project on rules of use of force.

The head of the RN bench also got involved in the conversations, Ximena Ossandón, who valued the role that Cariola played. “It helped a lot,” Ossandón said.

The House Speaker’s conversations with all committee heads culminated in a corporate agreement.

Specifically, it was agreed to advance on Thursday until full dispatch on the draft Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) in the united Constitution and Citizen Security commissions.

For its part, the opposition promised to advance in the processing of the project that creates the Ministry of Public Security. For this purpose, the Security and Finance commissions will be summoned on Friday morning.

Finally, the agreement contemplates a special session on Friday, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., to dispatch the two initiatives.

The second vice president of the Lower House, Eric Aedo (DC), said after the agreement: “We want to thank the positive attitude that the different committees have had to face these security projects that will do good for the country and that will reinforce the fight against of organized crime and all the violence that has spread today in the country.”

Deputy Juan Antonio Coloma (UDI), meanwhile, said: “For us it is essential to dispatch this week the Rules for the Use of Force and the Ministry of Security to give concrete signals in defense and support to our police officers. We appreciate that, despite the opposition of some parliamentarians from the Frente Amplio, we have managed to agree that the project be sent out of committee and voted on in the room.”

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