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Gov’t sends 2,250 Border Guards to Santa Fe

Security Secretary Sergio Berni (l) meets Santa Fe Governor Antonio Bonfatti (r) yesterday.

Following Bonfatti’s request, Berni heads security delegation to the province

Conscious of the seriousness of the recent events registered throughout the country regarding police strikes, the federal government decided yesterday morning on the deployment of 2,000 Border Guards and 250 Coast Guard officers in Santa Fe province after a request from Governor Antonio Bonfatti. The measure aims at strengthening security forces while the police protests for pay hikes in order to avoid the looting which struck Córdoba and Catamarca over the past days.

“Beyond the wage claims, the truth is that the police in all provinces has the constitutional obligation to work for the security of all the inhabitantes and it would be unacceptable that the extortionate strategy used by the Córdoba police would be used again in other provinces.” Security Secretary Sergio Berni told the Rosario daily La Capital from Rosario.

Threat of looting

Socialist Governor Bonfatti requested the deployment of BorderGuards first thing in the morning as a consequence of the strike which began on Friday evening for some law enforcement members at regional units of Rosario and Santa Fe.

Yesterday morning, several police officers peacefully protested on the premises of the First Regional Unit in the south of Santa Fe city. Demonstrators claimed a pay increase up to 13,000 pesos, in tune with the claim being made by other police officers in different provinces throughout the country.

The strikers are police officers on active duty on their days off and they are supported by Apropol, the police union prosecuted by governor Bonfatti last week which struggles for a generalized unionization of security workers.

The item of news of an uprising of the law enforcement forces in Santa Fe rapidly spread on social nets and put some inhabitants on the alert at the possibility of a crime wave, including possible episodes of looting, as took place in Córdoba earlier in the week.

Thus, the stores located in the main avenues in the city of Santa Fe, such as Blas Parera, Facundo Zuviría, General Paz, Aristóbulo del Valle and J.J. Paso) began to pull down their shutters. Police have been reported to be patrolling the streets of Santa Fe normally although some groups launched a picket and set a protest camp in the cities of Rosario and Santa Fe in demand for a pay increase. At press time, Bonfatti announced a wage-increase offer.

Aftermath of Córdoba chaos

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich held a press conference earlier yesterday ratifying the central government was “monitoring” all conflicts. However, the Cabinet chief highlighted to media that security and salary disputes are the responsibility of each province.

“When facing secuity threats, the provinces should formally request support from the national state. One the province requests it, the national government will immediately deploy Border Guards and the requested assistance to the province.” Capitanich said yesterday.

In tune with Capitanich, lawmaker Nora Bedano (FpV -Córdoba) also emphasized the role played by each province regarding security issues.

Bedano said to the Herald that “Thew Border Guard is national law enforcement. Therefore, if a provincial governor doesn’t request the deployment of Body Guards, the national state is not allowed to deploy them. That would be irresponsible and would represent a violation of tprovincial autonomy”, the lawmaker told theHerald, referring to what happeed in Córdoba city, where Governor José Manuel de la Sota accused the national state of not sending the Border Guard while Córdoba City was suffering a crime wave last Tuesday. “Each government has to take its own responsibilities.” the lawmaker added.

In his attempt to prevent a complicated scenario, Buenos Aires province’s Security Minister Alejandro Granados yesterday sent a message to the provincial police in order to avoid similar strikes to the ones in other provinces.

“I am proud of the Buenos Aires police. Since I took office, I have been seeking for better pay and conditions for the police staff,” Granados said in a press conference after a raid against drug-traffickers. Promotions, which used to be postponed, are currently being analyzed. There is a considerable number of members of the force with their promotions already agreed. When asked by the press if looting can spread to Buenos Aires province, he rejected that possibility: “We are throughly prepared to prevent that from happening.” On Wednesday, Granados met Berni to create a new unit to prevent looting.

Lawmaker Julio Cobos yesterday said that the uprising of law enforcement officers seeking pay hikes which initiated in Córdoba and continued in several provinces were a result of “the inflation” and he warned of a “contagion effect.”

Herald staff with DyN, Télam

Police-strike situation throughout the country:

RÍO NEGRO. After a first meeting, police officers threatened to extend the uprising until the government complied with their requirements.

NEUQUÉN. Demonstrators are expecting a counteroffer.The request was 12,000 pesos for the lower categories.

SAN JUAN. Police agents with their families are blocking main streets while expecting a pay hike. Active policemen are on duty.

CHUBUT. Governor Martín Buzzi announced a wage increase for police officers as soon as the first tensions began to emerge.

CATAMARCA. Police accepted a pay hike of 45 percent and suspended the uprising, after a tense day.

LA RIOJA. After the uprising which took place on Thursday, the two sides agreed on a basic wage of 9,998 pesos.

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