March 7, 2014
Interview with Gustavo VeraFriday, June 21, 2013
The ‘pope’s candidate’ in the midterm vote
by Luciana Bertoia
Gustavo Vera will take the number one slot for a seat at the City Legislature on the same ballot that is led by lawmakers Elisa Carrió and Fernando “Pino” Solanas.
He is popularly known as the “pope’s candidate” because of his long-time friendship with Pope Francis. And although he dislikes the characterization, Vera acknowledged he will sit down with the pope next Friday.
Vera insists his candidacy will not even come up when he meets the pope on June 28, insisting the two will simply “have a friendly talk.” It will hardly be his last visit to the Vatican this year. In November, he will also attend a seminar in the Holy See to discuss human trade, a recurrent theme in the pope’s homilies.
Vera met priest Jorge Bergoglio in many of the protests the group staged to expose places where these illegal activities allegedly took place.
“We have been working for years, that’s why we have become part of the Unen front, which is an anti-corruption coalition,” Vera told the Herald yesterday. “My candidacy as a member of La Alameda is not due to my personal friendship with Pope Francis.”
Why did you decide to join the centre-left front Unen?
We have been working with different political and union officials for years in our claims against the mafia and human trafficking. In many cases, we were joined by activist or lawmakers from the Civic Coalition led by “Lilita” (Elisa Carrió). With Project South, we share the same concerns over environmental issues and the public transport problems. La Alameda considers that our struggle cannot be reduced to the social sphere. In fact, we believe that our struggle must be taken to the political field, that is why we want a seat at the City Legislature and we think Pino and Lilita are honest politicians.
Aren’t you afraid that La Alameda’s work can be considered too politicized now?
The topics we have always dealt with involve politics. For instance, when we reported (Justice) Eugenio Zaffaroni’s brothels or the clandestine textile factory linked to Juliana Awada (City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s wife). We know that corruption is within the Legislature but we will report it if we discover any case. But we also know that there is a different way of doing politics.
Do you think your friendship with the pope influenced your position in the ballot list?
No. Before Pope Francis was appointed, we had already worked with the lawmakers. Francis has friends from different parties and he promotes people getting involved in politics. He believes every conflict must be solved through democratic institutions. He did not say a word about my candidacy. It is outrageous to think that the pope influences a ballot list. He is not worried about these issues. He has to worry about the huge problems inside the Vatican.
What projects will you take to the Legislature in case you are eventually elected?
We want local police to take part in the intervention and prevention of “federal crimes”, such as the drug dealing. We want to finish with the private foundations where drug addicts are taken to recover. Shelters for victims of human trafficking or for addicts must be run by the state. We also believe that the programme to assist victims of human trafficking should be focused on their social and professional integration. We also want to seize mafia assets.