The budget was voted on after 9:00 PM, with less than three hours remaining for the expropriation to be approved. Meanwhile, night had fallen, and people were waiting and worrying outside. Inside, they moved on to deal with the proposals from the floor, and the first was a bill about wetlands. The debate on this bill took time. The nervousness grew. There were several bills from the floor to be dealt with, and it was already obvious that there was not enough time for all of them. The Senators from the opposition were using a “Bilardo strategy” of running out the clock, so the session would end and the expropriation would not happen. [Translator’s note: Carlos Bilardo is a soccer coach with an aggressive and unscrupulous style.]
Federico Tonarelli contacted Silvina Irrazabal and Abal Medina’s staff to let them enter the session.
I made a bit of a “scene” outside and, finally, at about 10:00 at night, they let me in. I go into the hall, they come down from the office of Abal Medina and Silvina Irrazábal, and there I make another “scene,” saying that I wasn’t going alone, that had to let my compañeros in. There, Senate security agreed to let one more person in. That’s where they open the door for me and I call Eva (María Eva Lossada, chairwoman of the cooperative), who was on the street, and they let the two of us go in.
That did not mean that they entered the chamber, but the Arturo Illia Room, where all the staff were, with an enormous television on which they were watching the session live.
There, we started to communicate via WhatsApp with Juan Manuel Irrazábal, who was on the other side of the wall, in the chamber, and he reiterated to us that he has an agreement with the leader of the bloc, Miguel Pichetto, to vote for the bill. Then I tell him, “Juanchi, things aren’t looking good with the schedule…,” and he answers me that all that was left was to ask for the alteration of the order so that the topic of the BAUEN would be the next to be dealt with, because there were still twenty-some bills left. Pichetto gives it the OK, us too, and we get in touch with the ones outside so they’d know what was happening. This happened around 11, with practically no time for anything else.
Sure enough, the moment the previous topic was settled, Irrazábal asks for the floor and engages in a tense dialogue with the Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, who was now in charge of the session. It was the second round, and two thirds of the Senators would be needed to change the order. Outside, some were taking account, trying to imagine whether they would make it or not.