December 7, 2013
Taiana: ‘Most porteños are not gorilas’
The top FPV candidate to the City Legislature talks to the HeraldFormer foreign minister Jorge Taiana, the top Victory Front (FpV) City legislature candidate, talked to the Herald last week in the Recoleta office of the San Martín University human rights programme that he directs. Amid a hectic campaign schedule ahead of the October 27 midterms, Taiana voiced his opinion about the security situation in Buenos Aires and his ideas to improve the City.
What do you think of the Buenos Aires city Metropolitan police? And how would you improve it?
I don’t have a positive opinion of the Metropolitan police for a few reasons. First, because they don’t have civilian leadership, a committee that oversees it. Second, it seems to be more of a force used for riots than to prevent crime. This can be seen in incidents such as the Indo—American Park eviction, or in the Borda Hospital it was a scandal how they removed the peaceful protesters. Third, I don’t think they really have specialized units, for example dealing with non-violent protests. And fourth, they seem to prioritize their presence in commercial areas rather than being in places where they are truly needed.
How can the Victory Front improve this?
We need to manage the force better so it takes on a more preventive role, expand the territory they patrol. We need to make them less violent.
Is Buenos Aires City safe? Considering the security reforms recently put in place by Scioli for example.
It depends on how you look at it. The City’s homicide rate is lower than the rest of the capital cities in Latin America. Also, they are less concentrated and the majority are committed by relatives and acquaintances. The problem lies more in robberies, the statistics for these cases, though, aren’t very reliable because people usually only file a report when they have insurance. Despite this, there has been an important intervention carried about by the national and provincial government in the southern belt of Buenos Aires. What I have heard is that having Border Guards work there improved things. People say they feel safer in general, and that there is less crime. What is a major problem is the lack of lighting. This is fundamental for security. I think half of the City doesn’t have sufficient lighting.
What do you think of the designation of César Milani has chief of the Army?
I’m part of the general board of CELS human rights organization, I share the observations that CELS made over security issues (CELS is against Milani’s designation because of his ties to the last military dictatorship).
How would you combat drug trafficking? Are you in favour of legalization and having the state produce and sell drugs like Uruguay might do?
It’s a complicated issue. I don’t have a definite position on that yet. What is clear, though, is that the war against drugs has been a failure. The strategy based on repression hasn’t worked, it has only increased violence. I am against any type of legalization of hard drugs; consuming individually I don’t think should be penalized because an addict is a person with health problems he shouldn’t be treated as a criminal. But I think it’s evident that organized drug-trafficking gangs are growing.
You said that you wanted to reconcile porteños with Kirchnerism, how will you do this with the sectors that voted against the party?
Many Kirchnerites have viewed the City as the home of gorilas (conservatives), and while there may be many, most are not like that. I think the majority of porteños are between middle class and lower middle class. They value work, human rights, progress. I think we need to have more dialogue. We need to listen to City residents more. We talk about ourselves too much. We’ve been in power for over a decade, and we have a chequered record, full of positives and negatives, but I think overall we have a positive record. We can’t just focus on our past record to get votes, we need to say what we are going to do and get people to vote for us on what we want to do. I think that was an error we made before the primaries.
What are the City’s major problems?
We live in a rich metropolis but it isn’t managed well. Taxes have increased and the City’s debt has more than tripled since 2007. The garbage (collection and disposal) problem isn’t fixed, the flooding prevention infrastructure isn’t fixed, transport hasn’t really improved.
What about the Metrobus?
I’m not necessarily against it. But they should make it greener, with more ecological buses and vegetation. The Metrobus on 9 de Julio Avenue works well. The bike paths are good, but they should connect to the transport outlets, the subways, buses and trains. The problem is they don’t really think about the big picture. The City should be integrated into the metropolitan area.
The problem is we are making slum areas that aren’t registered because we aren’t building decent affordable housing. There are 160,000 vacant residences but they’re too expensive. It’s difficult for people to get loans to buy homes. That is a big problem. The youth can’t purchase any houses. Another issue is the creation of neighbourhoods. For example, I look at Puerto Madero, I would never want to live there. It looks like Houston—it’s awful. It doesn’t look like Buenos Aires. We want to preserve the City’s identity over the next 20 years.
What is the difference between your party ticket, and the Popular Alternative ticket led by Pablo Fe-rrerya?
Ours is the government’s ticket.