December 8, 2013
‘We always respect popular will’
In times when mayors took centre stage in the campaign ahead of the midterm vote on October 27, Morón Mayor Lucas Ghi talked to Herald in his small office in the Town Hall building of his Greater Buenos Aires district. A member of Nuevo Encuentro, the centre-left political force led by the AFSCA watchdog Martín Sabbatella, Ghi replied to those who criticized his party for supposedly “lowering the progressive flags” due to their alignment with the ruling Victory Front (FpV).
He is even younger than the main contenders for the legislative elections, Lomas de Zamora Mayor Martín Insaurralde (FpV) and Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa, of the Renewal Front. By contrast, Ghi is not a Peronist but he is part of the Kirchnerite coalition. The 33-year-old mayor, who has a degree in journalism and political sciences, took office in 2009 when Sabbate-lla gained a seat in the Lower House of Congress.
Weeks ago former Nuevo Encuentro lawmaker Vilma Ibarra said that Sabbatella had put aside his critical thinking in order to be part of Kirchnerism. Do you agree?
No, it’s the other way around. We are a progressive political expression, which could be identified by two important features: we still fly our banners, linked to social justice, income distribution, solidarity and equality, and we have our management capacity. We are not a token party, we take the challenges as well as the pros and cons of a wider universe that rules the country and some of the ideas that rule Argentina are also shared by other leaders in the region. Many progressive politicians defend the processes taking place in Brazil, Ecuador or Uruguay. When those presidents praise what is going on in Argentina, some progresive politicians do not pay attention.
But don’t you take any of those criticisms as valid? For instance, the need of fighting against corruption?
If there is any corrupt official, he should be sent to prison. But I do not think we have a corrupt national government as was the case in the nineties.
But, for instance, isn’t César Milani’s appointment as the head of the Army a worrying decision for you?
Well, in fact, I don’t know. I strongly respect the reports made by some sectors but I think that his naming does not undermine the human rights policy led by the Kirchnerite administration. If he committed any crime, he has to be examined in court.
You sponsored one of the municipal police bills at the Buenos Aires province Legislature, do you think it will pass?
We are expecting the bill to be discussed. The municipal police is a necessary instrument in order to prevent crime and, if passed, it will complement some actions that we have already taken.
Don’t you share the fear that citizens’ security forums will encourage heavy-handed proposals?
No. Residents can provide information and also take a leading role in the decisions making process and they will realize that there are topics which are not easy solved. Civilian participation is always positive.
Border Guards were deployed in Morón days ago. What’s your diagnosis?
It’s too early to talk about that. We’ll see what the newly appointed Security minister (Alejandro Granados) suggests and we’ll give him our support because crime control is the main demand.
Don’t you think the measures taken by the national and provincial government seek electoral benefits?
Well, the Sentinel operation was already in progress. I consider it a positive reaction after the bad performance in the PASO primaries. We respect the popular will and we consider this a healthy change.
Some time ago, you said that it was clear that the Buenos Aires province was leading a different security paradigm from the one led by then national Security minister Nilda Garré. Do you think both policies are looking similar now?
We’ll see what the new provincial minister does. I do not know his proposal, his paradigm, yet.
Why did people not vote for the Kirchnerite ballot on August 11 elections? Just because of crime?
Different situations. Crime control is a demand. There is a part of society that chose another sector because they think that if they won, they would not affect the public policies carried out by this government. Those sectors had the ability of not presenting themselves as a threat.
Kirchnerism was also ambiguous when appointing Insaurralde to compete against Massa; they seem to be quite similar, don’t you agree?
Well, the difference is that one is backed by a national project, with its aims, achievements and pending issues. The other alternative congregate different leaders under Massa’s leadership, who has achieved a good build up thanks to a good local management and vagueness at the national level.
Congressman Carlos Kunkel and Ituzaingó Mayor Alberto Descalzo criticized your party for presenting separate lists attached to the Victory Front, and it is said that lawmaker Juliana Di Tullio was furious with you due to the bad performance in the primaries, is that true?
You should ask Kunkel and Descalzo. We have a good dialogue with Juliana.
How did you assess Sabbatella’s performance at the Media Law hearing?
Very positive. It was an eye-opening situation. It was clear what both parties were defending. Clarín group had to be very creative to explain how the law would affect its freedom of expression.
Will Nuevo Encuentro be part of Kirchnerism in 2015?
I think so. If Kirchnerism continues with its labour and industrial policies, the universal child allowance (AUH), the human rights policies, the Media Law, we’ll be there.