May 21, 2013
Bonfatti hits back at gov’t criticism
Santa Fe Governor Antonio Bonfatti yesterday responded to criticism made by National Security Minister Nilda Garré over the drug-trafficking scandal, stating that “Garré’s comments bother me, because we’ve always been willing to work together while avoiding blaming others.”
Bonfatti was speaking to defend his administration from comments made by Garré on Saturday, in which she described Santa Fe as a “lawless zone... where drug smugglers fight for turf.”
However, the governor insisted yesterday that “if you trace the origin of the drugs, a claim could be made against the central government, since they enter through the province’s borders.”
Bonfatti also stated that “drug-smuggling is a global crime,” and asked the national authorities “to be responsible and sit together in order to look for solutions,” adding a request for “more Federal judges” to help investigate drug-smuggling crimes and that there should be “coordination between provincial and national security forces.”
The drug-trafficking controversy began when former Santa Fe Police Chief Hugo Tognoli was accused of protecting drug smugglers in an investigation by the Federal Justice into an Airport Security Police corruption incident, which is under the nation’s authority. The revelations caused the resignation and arrest of Tognoli, and the government subsequently replaced many Security officials in the provincial government, in what rapidly became a provincial-federal dispute.
Bonfatti also announced yesterday that the reforms in the Security Ministry will extend to the police department: “The changes in the province’s police department will occur when there are vacancies, though if Security Minister Raúl Lamberto wants to, he can order changes when necessary.”
The governor stated that in the next few days there will be a major overhaul of the police force and many new measures.
The latest dispute between Santa Fe and the federal government occurred one day before President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner visits the town of Villa Constitución in Santa Fe province.
Transport Secretary Alejandro Ramos yesterday waded into the row between the national and Santa Fe governments, stating that Bonfatti and his predecessor, Broad Progressive Front (FAP) leader Hermes Binner, “should stop diagnosing issues through the media and take the actions required to fight the drugs trade in the country.”
Ramos added that Bonfatti was “using the same lines as Binner, that is, he is seeking to place responsibility on other sectors, instead of recognizing the incompetence of the provincial government in fighting the scourge of drugs-trafficking.”
“All the inhabitants of Santa Fe are hoping that the government faces up to the issue with active measures to attack the places where drugs are produced,” said Ramos, adding that Santa Fe had “never before suffered so many drug-smuggling problems.”
CFK IN SANTA FE
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will today visit Villa Constitución, 45 kilometres from Rosario, to preside over the inauguration of a new rolling mill. The ceremony will also include the participation of Bonfatti, thus being the first event in which the President and the governor will be together since the drugs crisis began.
Herald with Telam, DyN