Chilean president Sebastián Piñera could face impeachment proceedings for the second time in his current administration.
His first time down this road was after the October 2019 protests, when he was under fire due to Human Rights violations by the Police and the Armed Forces.
But lawmakers rejected the idea in a 79-73 vote, so the trial never reached the Senate.
However, the Pandora Papers brought to light new information regarding the sale of a controversial mining project in the north of Chile, Dominga, in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.
Although the details of the transaction and the Piñera family’s involvement with the project were revealed in 2017 by Radio Bío Bío, the Pandora Papers managed to get a hold of the contract, signed during Piñera’s first term in office.
The document confirmed that the Piñera family would receive their money in three installments, though the third (around US$9 million) would only be paid if the area in which Dominga would be set was not protected under environmental measures.
To this day, said area is unprotected, with Dominga receiving the go-ahead by government authorities in August.
The leak was a hard blow to an already unpopular administration and it became the perfect excuse for the opposition to attack Piñera, a conservative billionaire, four months before he leaves office.
The filibuster in Chile
The centre-left acted quickly and built a case against the Head of State, accusing him of breach of probity and smearing the image of the country.
After days of debate, the accusation reached the House floor Monday, where the opposition needs 78 votes to get it passed.
Nevertheless, last week, Gabriel Boric, a leftist House member and a current presidential candidate, contracted covid-19.
His friend Giorgio Jackson, another leftist House member, was deemed a close contact and was sent to quarantine for a week.
Under Chilean covid-19 rules, his isolation ends at midnight and his vote is crucial to make the Senate debate Piñera’s impeachment.
That is why the monumental task of speaking for over 14 hours fell on the shoulders of Jaime Naranjo, a 70-year old member of the Socialist party.
Why? Mr Naranjo has been speaking non-stop (with the exception of a 15-minute break) stalling a floor vote until midnight, when Mr Jackson will get on his car and drive from Santiago to Valparaíso (116 kilometres – 72 miles) to cast his vote against Piñera, whose fortune is valued at US$2.8 billion, according to Forbes.
Mr Naranjo started his speech at 10:24 (Chile time) by reading a 1,300-page-long document.
As of 22:40, he is still going at it.
If everything goes as planned, 78 members of Congress will vote in favour of Piñera’s impeachment.
Then, the Senate should hold a trial, where the opposition needs a two-thirds majority to declare victory.