Head of La Libertad Avanza bloc splits after commission fiasco

Failing to establish the key Impeachment Commission amid infighting, Oscar Zago formed his own three-deputy bloc on Friday

The head of the La Libertad Avanza (LLA) bloc in the Deputies Chamber, Oscar Zago, has split from the ruling coalition and formed his own bloc following a dispute with his peers about the creation of a commission.

The rupture comes four months into President Javier Milei’s government, as lawmakers await confirmation for a debate on a second version of Milei’s omnibus bill, which collapsed in February.

On Friday, Zago formed a three-deputy bloc with two other party members, the center-right Movimiento de Integración y Desarrollo that was previously part of the LLA alliance.

Meanwhile, Deputy Gabriel Bornoroni was named as Zago’s replacement leading the LLA bloc.

On Wednesday at 11:00 a.m., a meeting was scheduled to form the Impeachment Commission, considered one of Congress’ most important working groups given the strategic capital of handling impeachment requests.

LLA Deputy Marcela Pagano was expected to become the commission chair. A source from LLA told the Herald that both Zago and Pagano spoke to Milei via WhatsApp to communicate Pagano’s appointment and that the president gave his blessing. However, after the attendees — including opposition deputies — had arrived and the meeting was one minute from starting, Lower House president Martín Menem (LLA) sent an e-mail canceling it.

Zago apologized and decided to proceed with the meeting anyway, fearing that an opposition member could be appointed head of the commission instead. LLA Deputy Lisandro Almirón accused Zago of failing to respect the bloc’s interests.

Pagano, a former journalist who entered politics at Milei’s invitation, was named chairwoman. However, later that day, Menem posted on X dismissing Wednesday’s meeting, overriding the decision and calling for another to appoint the commission members on April 18. 

Sources close to Pagano told the Herald that she will wait for the president to arrive from his trip to the United States to make a decision. She can’t join Zago’s bloc because she is not affiliated with his party but thinks he made the right choice, the source added.

Argentine media outlets reported that the orders to cancel the meeting came from the Legal Secretary of the Presidency and the president’s sister, the powerful Karina Milei.

The Milei-Zago split comes at a time when the ruling coalition needs all the support it can get. It is preparing to debate a new version of Milei’s flagship omnibus bill in Congress after attempts to pass the first version collapsed.

On Friday, media outlets reported that Zago had barricaded himself in the office he used as head of the LLA’s bloc and resisted handing over the keys to his successor, Gabriel Bornoroni. Zago denied this in an interview with El Destape but said he would keep the office until LLA asks him to hand it over.

“I am the head of a bloc, all of them have their office and this is one of them,” he said. “This must be one of the smallest ones.”

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