Juan Martín Mena, Cristina’s arm in Justice, who went from the AFI to the march against the Court
The Vice Minister of Justice, Juan Martín Mena, was this week at the center of the controversy. It was by supporting the march against the Supreme Court of Justice, organized by Kirchnerism and scheduled for the beginning of next month. “I think it’s good,” he replied when asked about the demonstration, promoted by Luis D’Elía, among others. And later he reinforced his idea by stating that “the powers” must know “what their limit is.”
His statements motivated the opposition to go out quickly to cross it, taking into account the role it occupies. Although formally Mena is Justice No. 2, in practice he is Sarmiento’s “strong man” at 300. It has been since it arrived in December 2019, by decision of Cristina Kirchner. From there he saw how Marcela Losardo was ejected and was replaced by Martín Soria. The relationship with one and with another is completely different. In the period of Losardo, of extreme confidence in the president, Alberto Fernández, the link was marked by mutual distrust and movements that did not satisfy Kirchner. On the other hand, with the arrival of Soria, they assure that there is “another work tune” and, above all, the complex judicial panorama of the vice president began to clear up, with dismissals before reaching trial, as the main distinctive sign .
Although within the ruling party there are those who consider that “it was a matter of time for that to happen” and use the argument of lawfare to explain the judicial advance against Kirchner. Others see in the “amalgamated” and “dynamic” movement of Mena and Soria, but especially of the former, the key to the strategy to achieve those benefits. “Soria is alive, he knows that power belongs to Juan Martín and always includes him. It is a society in which both win”, they graph.
42-year-old from Mar del Plata and a disciple of Eugenio Zaffaroni, Mena’s power is the only one that has not changed in Justice in these two years of Government. He reports directly to Kirchner (although Fernández joined the Court in his criticism on the same day as his statements) and He knows perfectly the portfolio in which he was between 2004 and 2014. The one he left in December of that year to occupy the deputy directorate of local Intelligence.
It was after Kirchner decapitated the body and appointed it along with Oscar Parrilli. Although he was unknown to many, Mena had already earned Cristina’s trust. The link between the two began in 2012 when the then president received the English musician Roger Waters and he asked for the recognition of the Argentine soldiers who fell in Malvinas and buried in the Darwin cemetery, as NN. In those days, Mena simultaneously occupied the Head of the Cabinet and the Undersecretary of Criminal Policy in Justice and took the post.
From there he supervised the AMIA Unit of the Ministry, and began to have an active role in the drafting of the Pact with Iran, which would become one of the biggest problems of his career.
It was from January 2015, when not even a month had passed since his arrival in the world of espionage, that the then head of the UFI AMIA, Alberto Nisman, denounced the alleged cover-up of the attack through that Pact. Mena was not in the initial complaint, which reached Kirchner and a good part of his cabinet, but he ended up being involved in the case. It was in December 2017, when Judge Claudio Bonadio prosecuted him for the case. Shortly after the file was sent to oral and public trial. A situation that was reversed in 2021 and that benefited both him and Kirchner and the other defendants.
His participation in the nullity request hearing, which was done via zoom, was from his office at the Ministry. A detail that garnered criticism in court. The name of the deceased prosecutor is also another headache for Mena in justice. It is in the case that Nisman’s crime is investigated. The calls that Mena made during the weekend in which Nisman’s death occurred, with other members of local intelligence, are the object of analysis by Justice. At the moment there are no definitions about this analysis of communications, within the framework of the investigation that in September 2017 affirmed that Nisman’s death was a crime, but has not yet been able to determine who or who did it.
Between 2015, after leaving the AFI, and returning to public office in 2019, Mena founded his own law firm. To do so, he teamed up with the current Minister Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, who was also his first lawyer in the case for the Pact with Iran. It was on Rivadavia Street, near Congress, where he officiated as Kirchner’s adviser on legal issues and strengthened a bond that, shortly after a decade, is only consolidating. That’s why for these hours, no one doubts that Mena’s words are Cristina’s. And that the chosen target is that of the Supreme Court, from which several bad news have emanated for the government in recent months and in which, above all things, it will have the last word in Kirchner’s judicial future.
With the ties practically broken with the court, after Soria’s visit, and without the numerical capacity to advance comfortably in the replacement of Elena Highton, the power of fire is the main bastion of the ruling party in the highest echelon of Justice.