December 5, 2013
Traffic stop controversy engulfs campaign
Video emerges showing Cabandié arguing with officer, who says fine led to her being fired
A video released anonymously over the weekend that showed top Kirchnerite Buenos Aires City lawmaker candidate Juan Cabandié arguing with a traffic officer in the Greater Buenos Aires district of Lomas de Zamora brought an unexpected narrative into the last weeks of the campaign before the October 27 midterm elections.
The issue took on a larger dimension yesterday after the woman who could be heard arguing in the video with Cabandíe came forward to say she had lost her job following the incident.
The footage was uploaded on Saturday by an unidentified YouTube user named “Pedro Picapiedra” (“Fred Flintstone”) — months after the episode had taken place in May, as both Cabandié and the officer confirmed.
Belén Mosquera, the traffic officer, insisted yesterday that she was left without a job after the incident.
A photograph that made its way through scoial networks yesterday showed a letter the Lomas de Zamora municipality sent Mosquera, dated September 9, saying her services were “no longer required as of August 1.”
Last night, Lomas de Zamora Cabinet Chief Guillermo Viñuales told Radio Continental the reason behind Mosquera’s departure from the traffic force was that Mosquera had been “absent from her post” on two separate occasions.
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In the video, Cabandié can be seen inside his car after he had been pulled over by the police.
He argues with two security officers, one male and one female (though the recording begins in the middle of the discussion) over whether the authorities are allowed to seize his vehicle because of a lack of papers.
At one point, the current City lawmaker calls an unidentified contact on his cell phone, telling the person he is being mistreated by the traffic officer “so that (Lomas de Zamora Mayor and Kirchnerite candidate) Martín Insaurralde can look into the situation, not to get her fired — we don’t want anyone to lose their jobs — but so that someone sanctions this girl.”
In one of the most incriminating parts of the video, Cabandié can be seen yelling at the woman who is outside the frame: “I’ve got more balls than you, I resisted the (1976-1983 military) dictatorship, I’m a son of disappeared (parents).”
On Sunday night, Cabandié went to pro-government TV show 6,7,8 and gave his own version of the events.
He apologized for his actions but insisted that the video was edited and that he felt the officers were looking for a bribe.
“It’s not the correct way to do things,” he conceded. “I don’t like seeing myself in that role, but that is a cropped video.”
According to the Kirchnerite contender, the third person in the scene was a male Border Guard officer.
Cabandié said the person whom he was talking to was a member of the national Security Ministry — a claim that appears to have been contradicted by the second part of the video, which suggestively appeared following his TV appearance.
Border Guard filming?
The first video is 1 minute 23 seconds long and is an edit of three different parts. The second, which was released Sunday night by the same YouTube user, is 41 seconds long.
There are still questions over who filmed the video and who released it.
According to the country’s law, Border Guard agents are not allowed to tape anything that takes place in the streets.
In 2012, then Defence Minister Nilda Garré ordered an investigation to determine whether
Border Guard had been spying on political activists. Human rights organizations brought a lawsuit before federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide, who later led a raid at the Campo de Mayo headquarters where the Border Guard kept the computers with information collected in demonstrations.
If the case — now being handled by Judge Sebastián Casanello — turns out to be real, the alleged crimes committed by Border Guard officers can be considered malfeasance.
Mosquera, left without a job
Meanwhile, Belén Mosquera, the traffic officer who wrote the fine, took centre stage yesterday when she revealed she was left without a job after the incident.
“I’ve been unemployed for two months,” Mosquera told Radio Mitre.
The former traffic officer said she was left without a job for “unspecified reasons.”
She revealed a picture of the letter from the Lomas de Zamora municipality telling her she was removed from her post — dated September 9.
But the Lomas de Zamora municipality led by Martín Insaurralde said last night Mosquera was laid off for other reasons that had nothing to do with the Cabandié fine.
The reason behind her departure, local Cabinet Chief Guillermo Viñuales told journalist Maria O’Donnell, was that Mosquera has been absent from her post “on two occasions.”
“Cabandié never talked with Martín Insaurralde about the episode. Insaurralde first learned about it on Sunday,” Viñuales insisted.
Mosquera’s Facebook page shows she “likes” Martín Insaurralde — something that apparently has not changed since the incident took place.