August 22, 2014
Security secretary denies Defence Minister’s claimsTuesday, February 18, 2014
Berni denies Argentina is a drug-producing nation
Security Secretary Sergio Berni yesterday contradicted the statement of Defence Minister Agustín Rossi at the end of last week by denying that Argentina is a drug-producing country, thus prompting opposition politicians to demand the presence of both officials in Congress to explain the government’s perception of the drug-trafficking problem and their strategy against it.
“Objectively speaking, Argentina does not produce drugs apart from the odd marijuana plant but on nothing like the scale of Paraguay or at least not detected until now,” commented Berni, “thus it is practically impossible to produce cocaine in Argentina because neither the altitude nor the climate permit it.” But Rossi had spoken of “elaboration,” not cultivation.
In a radio interview, Berni added: “Sometimes we speak confusingly of laboratories in Argentina, which are places to cook drugs generally coming from Colombia, Peru or Bolivia.”
In the face of these differences of opinion, Lower House Minority Leader Mario Negri (Radical-Córdoba) yesterday demanded the presence in Congress of both officials to “explain their contradictions ... adding confusion to this serious problem” while PRO centre-right caucus leader Federico Pinedo accused Berni of shutting his eyes to reality when he denied Rossi’s statements on drug elaboration (especially with regard to paco or cocaine paste residue). Negri pointed to recent developments in Rosario, Córdoba and Mendoza to underline the gravity of the drug problem while deputy Patricia Bullrich (Unión/PRO-City) backed his summons of both officials. Other opposition deputies said that they had been saying what Rossi has just admitted for the last 10 years.
Herald staff with DyN