December 12, 2013
‘PRO is not different from Dilma or Mujica’
“I used to cycle everywhere. From my home to Torcuato Di Tella University where I teach, in Belgrano neighbourhood, and from there to my Academic Director office in (the Macrist think tank) Pensar Foundation in downtown, and back again. Now I take a cab everywhere: With one campaign meeting in La Boca and the next one in Mataderos on the same afternoon, there are no legs or deodorant that can resist such a schedule.” The theologist Iván Petrella is not a traditional candidate. In fact, he is the trump card of BA City Mayor and PRO leader Mauricio Macri in next weekend midterms. A long time scholar in United States academia, he returned to Argentina two years ago and approached Macri’s camp as an external adviser. Being announced as the top candidate for the City Legislature took many by surprise, including him. “I watched a lot of House of Cards, Game of Thrones and Newsroom TV series as a fast introduction into the universe of political lobby,” he joked.
You once said in an interview that PRO would be the leftist wing of the Democrats if we were in United States. Who would be the Republicans?
They don’t exist here in Argentina. They would be the ones who would like to abolish the public health system. No way that would happen in Argentina.
But PRO is in Buenos Aires, not in Washington. You still consider it a leftist option?
Leftist and rightist don’t seem suitable categories here. I believe PRO is the party that focuses the most on finding practical solutions for citizens’ problems. And with that objective in mind, it models on a huge world laboratory full of public policies. Limiting to leftist or rightist branding may narrow our options. And we must do the opposite. In the end, PRO is not so different from Dilma (Rousseff) in Brazil or Pepe Mujica in Uruguay. They both carry out politics to benefit their society. And so does Rafael Correa in Ecuador, with a radical educational reform that many in Argentina would describe as a rightist project. Is he a leftist or rightist leader then? Here we must start discussing some issues free of partisan views. For example: Education, my obsession.
Do you have specific proposals on that topic?
I am part of the ruling force so any idea must be previously arranged with officials from the Education Ministry who, by the way, are doing a great job to take avant-garde schooling to poorest children. Anything I can do to contribute to that effort will be in my interest.
Do you consider school takeovers a legitimate means for students’ demonstrations despite the last episodes related to high school reform?
For the most part. I am against takeovers but I imagine there may be some moments when occupying schools can be an appropriate method. That wasn’t the case during recent years. When you have open channels to dialogue, when a minister gives to students his cellphone number to negotiate, I think there are other ways to settle differences.
Macrism usually questions Kirchnerites for not having open administration policies even though BA City does not have any Public Ethics Act nor an Anti-Corruption bureau...
PRO does not have a majority caucus in the Legislature. Opposition parties could have introduced a Public Ethics bill if they had wanted to. Nevertheless, this is an open administration. With all the attention that was paid on the Macrist government during these years, any corruption case would have surely come to light.
But Macri is indicted for illegal spying. Should he step down if he is finally taken to court?
I don’t know how the procedure continues. We will see when the time comes. Meanwhile, I believe this is all politically prepared. A blow to Macrism’s integrity by the national government’s legal swords.
Even considering your idea about a corruption-free administration, PRO won’t be running the City for ever. Don’t you think that more transparent policies are a debt for PRO if the State’s strengthening is its rallying leitmotiv?
Maybe. Personally, I am in favour of discussing a Public Ethics bill, why not? People who are elected for a public position must not have further privileges but bigger responsibilities. Power does not belong to you. Citizens just lend it to you for a while.
How did you react to the Victory Front legislator Juan Cabandié’s behaviour during the fining episode in which he was accused of abuse of power by a Lomas de Zamora traffic officer?
I really hope Cabandié not only learns his lesson but also this incident serves as a message to us all so that we can be up to the job.