Congress refuses to judge former Minister of Health for the pandemic

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The Chilean Congress of Deputies rejected in a tight vote, the constitutional accusation against the former Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, which sought to establish his political responsibility for his management during the first months of the pandemic and for allegedly having lied about the COVID-19 cases and deaths.

With 73 votes against, 71 in favor and seven abstentions, the deputies discarded the libel presented by the left-wing opposition, which could have disqualified for years the former president’s personal doctor, the conservative Sebastian Piñera.

Parallel death counts

“No country has done extraordinarily well, we have all had to learn from each other, but throughout this time the Government’s health team has worked as a true body to identify all the people who could be positive,” he said Jaime Mañalich after the vote.

Mañalich resigned from office on July 13 in full peak of the pandemic and after the investigative medium Ciper revealed that the Ministry had two parallel counts, with a difference of more than 2,000 deaths, one that it delivered daily to the citizens and the other that reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

After the departure of the former minister, who was also widely criticized for applying the strategic controversy of “dynamic quarantines” In neighborhoods with more cases, instead of confining entire cities, the Government unified the counting methods and Enrique Paris, a figure that generates more consensus, took office.

The advance of the pandemic

“We see with hope and enthusiasm what is happening today. Apparently, we are reaching a quieter period, except for what we are seeing in some regions of the country, “added the former minister.

With 484,280 infecteds as of this Tuesday and 13,396 deaths since the beginning of March, Chile is the fourteenth most affected country in the world, according to John Hopkins University, and is still under a night curfew and under a state of exception.

The pandemic remits in the capital, which was for months the contagion epicenter and today it is totally unconfined, but some outbreaks in the south are worrying.

The opposition gets angry

“I am absolutely convinced that the minister did not fulfill his duty, he did not respect anything or anyone, he did what he wanted and it privileged the economy over people’s health, “said deputy Marcela Hernando, from the opposition Radical Party (PR) and one of the promoters of the accusation, during the vote.

This is at least the seventh constitutional accusation brought by the opposition during Piñera’s second non-consecutive term, of which only the one filed against former Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick, who last December was disabled to hold public office for five years for his management during the serious protests of 2019.

The constitutional accusation is a procedure contemplated in the law that empowers the deputies to initiate a impeachment against an authority and can lead to the dismissal or disqualification from holding public office of the accused.

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