March 11, 2014
Marambio resigns as head of federal prisons
Decision seen as a symptom of the crisis facing the system across the country
Alejandro Marambio yesterday resigned as chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service (SPF) due to “personal reasons,” a decision that was widely read as a symptom of the broad crisis in the Argentine prison system.
Marambio revealed his intentions yesterday afternoon, although his decision must be ratified by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which may take place tomorrow, according to sources from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.
“His resignation is due to personal reasons, family matters. His family lives in Spain, and he’s tired of travelling there all the time,” one official said.
He will be replaced by Emiliano Blanco, his Chief Adviser.
“Justice Minister Julio Alak already knows him, he was Marambio’s first adviser when he returned to office,” the same source added. Marambio had previously been chief of the SPF between 2007 and 2010.
This time, his tenure was much shorter — not even reaching six months.
Critics argue he hardly leaves with a stellar record. Last year there were 130 jailbreaks across the country, and so far this year at least 13 convicts have escaped detention centres.
However, if only prisons under direct control of the SPF are considered, only one inmate escaped during his time in office.
The case took place on December 3, when Fernando Ariel Moreno — who was serving time at the Devoto prison — was injured during a fight and was then “rescued” by several accomplices on his way to the hospital.
According to news agency Noticias Argentinas, other inmates that had escaped over the past months did so from police departments or prisons run by provincial governments and not the SPF.
Marambio had taken up his role as head of the prisons system in August following Víctor Hortel’s resignation, which took place hours after a high-profile jailbreak at Ezeiza prison. The unexpected decision for this civilian with broad experience meant returning from Spain, where he was living with his family.
He was then hailed by Julio Alak as “a lawyer and an expert on prison issues in Argentina and Spain.”
Sources close to the official yesterday insisted that his departure from the department had been previously agreed upon.
Reasons ‘not yet clear’
Former Buenos Aires province Security Minister León Arslanian said his resignation was not quite unexpected.
“They certainly had to twist his arm to get him to return” in August, Arslanian told the Herald.
Arslanian revealed he had good references of Marambio — “he’s a capable, well prepared man” — but that he had also heard criticism by the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS).
Paula Livatchky, the head of the Justice and Security area of CELS, declined to comment
“Reasons (for his resignation) are not yet clear, we need to analyze the matter,” Livatchky told the Herald.
The new chief
Emiliano Blanco, the new SPF leader, is an international expert on prisons and received a master’s degree in criminal law from the Torcuato Di Tella University.
In 2010, Blanco insisted on bringing to the country the regional summit of the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA), where human rights training programmes and debates over youth violence were held.
“Prisons need to increase living standards so that when inmates go out, they are ready to enter society more easily,” Blanco said years ago at a conference at the Lomas de Zamora University.
“But before considering access to rights, we need to consider other factors such as prison overcrowding and violence reduction — the human right to life is above and beyond all other kinds of rights.”
According to Blanco, the state needs to generate “a national and regional structure” and conceive the prison system as a whole.