December 8, 2013
Vera: 'If we don’t fight mafia culture there is no chance to beat crime'
By Damian Pachter
Gustavo Vera is the head of “La Alameda” foundation, a non-governmental Organization focused on the battle against slave work, corruption and prostitution ‘mafias’. He’s also the UNEN party’s first candidate for the Buenos Aires City Legislature in the upcoming elections of October 27th.
Since 2001 Vera has spoke out against both Federal and City governments and last month, he received the “Alfredo Palacios” honour from the Senate recognising his fight against people trafficking.
This background inspired him to jump into the political arena.
“UNEN expresses politically what we have been doing in social, unionist and community areas. ‘Lilita’ Carrio is a person who for many years has condemned corruption and the misuse of public funds, which serve this mafioso project of capital accumulation. While Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas was very brave, making impeachments against concentrated capital for over 20 years.
-What are the main initiatives you will present in the Legislature if elected?
There are no shelters for victims of addiction or prostitution maintained by the state. They are outsourced through foundations who charge fortunes to the medical insurance companies.
These shelters have to be under the umbrella of the state, controlled by both civil society and Congress because it is a very sensitive issue that cannot be taken care of under the private sector. Profit-making entities must not have a part in it.
In addition, reinsertion programs for these people must be introduced, and a compulsory quota has to be assured under a public jobs scheme, while on the other hand private companies could be benefited with tax breaks.
We will present a law to confiscate the ‘mafia’s’ assets. Their property must be seized and made available for social use.
A governmental institution should be created and in order to control these assets, a person should be designated by special majority in Congress.
-What criticisms do you have against City Mayor Mauricio Macri and his administration?
Macri doesn’t fight organized crime and he does not condemn the corruption of those who have the duty of fighting it, in the federal level.
Where are his cases against corrupt officials? There is not even one. We, having no money, succeed with the removal of more than 60 functionaries and forced the close down of 613 brothels.
Likewise, the Metropolitan Police seems to have been created in order to take motorcycles off the kids who deliver empanadas. We all thought they would fight organised crime within the Federal Police, but they don’t - as result of a pre-existing agreement between the City’s Minister of Justice and Security Guillermo Montenegro with the national government.
-Do you think the PRO administration is complicit in the human trafficking situation, forced work or brothels in some way?
Not only do we believe that the City government is an accomplice, but we denounce them. An example: with the ‘Martins’ case, which is the case of brothels that were created by the Intelligence Services (former SIDE) in the last years of the military dictatorship, through Raúl Martins and Jaime Stiusso , starting in Buenos Aires and later spread to Cancún, México, by linking with the “Zeta Cartél”.
In a visit with his wife to that country, Macri reunited with his friend Gabriel Conde, Martins’s partner who today is a fugitive due the Shampoo brothel case.
Conde is the son of Luis Conde, Boca Juniors vice-president under the Macri administration. They were on the same formula ticket, and the campaign for that election was celebrated in the Shampoo brothel.
-In many occasions, you have stated that you have been persecuted by governmental forces. Can you share examples?
In the Rodolfo Walsh Agency, we had an insider who for 12 years followed the activities of La Alameda. His name is Américo Balbuena.
We filed a ‘Habeas Data’ motion to Secretary of Security Sergio Berni, who ironically told us that what Balbuena did was a hobby, and that no information on La Alameda had been gathered according to him.
Due to that situation, we filled a criminal complaint against Berni and the Minister of Security Arturo Puricelli, requesting a Habeas Data before the Federal Justice.
-Recent polls reflect the crime issue as a main concern. Do you have any plans to fight it?
Crime is clearly increasing as result of the drug trafficking factor and the mafia. A ‘crime map’ helps to push the issue before the organisms of the state. In second place, it serves to bring crime to light. And finally, it allows us to explain to people that if we don’t fight against corruption, mafias and that culture there is no chance to overcome organized crime.
Our starting point is a totally different paradigm, which opposes the one that is showed in the mass media. Many times when a crime happens, people are instilled with the idea that it is the result of an ‘absent state’, therefore the reaction is to ask for more patrols, cameras and police in the province. However, the state has never been more present than it is today.
In different places, with different social classes there is one common denominator: 80% of the committed felonies have a certain level of collaboration with the state.
-How did your relationship with Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis) begin?
After a wave of 18 attacks against La Alameda, including shootings and beatings of denouncers and witnesses we told him: ‘if you don’t give us a hand and support us, we’ll appear floating in the Riachuelo River’. A week later, Bergoglio organized the first mass condemning human trafficking and started taking public pictures with complainants in order to defend them so they would not get killed.
-Do you agree an institutional coup has begun, as Elisa Carrió stated a few days ago?
Obviously I do. It was planned for next March and they tried to arrange a scenario in the legislative assembly where Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli could have been designated.
If in the October elections, the Victory Front obtains the same or worse results as in August there is a sector of the establishment which needs some kind of order to assure its business. An attempt to interrupt Cristina’s constitutional mandate could happen, but we will oppose it harshly because we do not want her to turn into a martyr. She still has to explain what has been done with the country.
Concentrated capital and the Justicialist Party (PJ) tried to convince Scioli. There are circles in the establishment with big influence, just like Macri defined it. But he passed from the “Red Circle” to the “Circle of Happiness” (in allusion to a pact with the Federal Government).