Saturday
August 30, 2014

Jorge Taiana, former Foreign minister

Sunday, April 13, 2014

'I wouldn’t have voted for Milani’s appointment'

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff

Name: Jorge Taiana
Born: Buenos Aires City, May 31, 1950
Studies: Sociology, University of Buenos Aires
Position: BA City lawmaker, head of the International Centre of Political Studies (CIEP- UNSAM)
Past positions: Foreign Minister (2005-2010), Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Executive Secretary
Currently reading: The moons of Jupiter by Alice Munro
Newspapers: All, while I drink mate. I hardly hear radio except for Radio Del Plata

The door opens and Jorge Taiana kindly welcomes the Herald to his office in the Buenos Aires City Legislature. He makes some jokes while the photographer snaps a couple of shots and then proceeds to sit down and put his mobile phone aside. Taiana assures he would only stop the interview if he were to receive a phone call from an ambassador. He drinks mate and does not refuse to answer any of the questions that are thrown his way in an interview that ends up lasting more than one hour.

Why did the recent mob attacks on presumed criminals take place?

It has to do with regional traits. Latin America is the most unequal region in the world and also has the highest murder rate. Out of the 50 most violent cities in the world, 46 are in Latin America—none in Argentina.

And why do these attempted lynchings take place in Argentina then?

A number of factors could contribute. This is happening three months after the insubordination of provincial police, which boosted crime. Crime has structural causes, which is why inclusion is so important. But we have to make it clear: you can’t combat one crime with another one that is even worse.

In December, the president said that police must go through a democratization process, but so far there is no bill to bring that idea to fruition…

It’s a pending issue. We’ve made progress in these 30 years of democracy as can be seen in the Armed Forces. Provincial police forces have the same deficit as others in Latin America: they administrate crime. In Argentina, police forces have long been linked to crime: drugs, smuggling, car theft, prostitution, human trafficking and illegal gambling.

Do you agree with the creation of municipal police?

These small police forces are usually subordinated to mayors and have some deficits, such as a low level of training and a lack of resources. They are more permeable to the influence of political and economic power. In Mexico, drug traffickers took over the municipal police first. I don’t mean that the bill has to be scrapped but we do have to analyze what duties they will have and how they will be supervised.

Is the recent discovery of dictatorship-era archives evidence of changes within the Armed Forces?

In part. There have been changes but the trials have been the most important mechanism to educate. Due to its bureaucratic tradition, the forces keep records, that’s why I think more archives are going to appear.

What did you feel when you were handed the files about your father’s detention and the letters you exchanged with him while both of you were behind bars during the dictatorship?

It was hard for me that a man like him, a 65-year-old well-known surgeon who had also been the Education minister, was under arrest, treated as if he was a criminal. He also had to stop operating. It was a great injustice. Remembering him was touching.

You have already expressed your opposition to César Milani’s appointment as the head of the Army. Do you think his naming is a breakdown in the Kirchnerite human rights policy?

No. If I were a Senator, I wouldn’t have supported the appointment. It was a political decision. Over the past few years, there had been a political decision to abstain from these kinds of appointments.

Did you talk about it with the president?

No.

What are the challenges for Kirchnerism ahead 2015?

Many. To choose a candidate and the PASO primaries are the best mechanism. The FpV has to gain voters who did not back us in the last legislative elections back.

Why did you lose votes in October?

I think we had some economic difficulties like the restrictions to prevent capital flight. The campaign was also based on the past, on achievements, which are fundamental but people vote thinking about the future.

Does the Victory Front intend to pass the Civil Code and Penal Code reforms?

I think so. Let’s see if society is willing to accompany us. I know and respect some of the authors of the Penal Code bill and I think they prepared a good draft to discuss. The opposition reaction is shameful in spite of having had members of their parties in the drafting commission.

Regarding Malvinas, was regional cooperation the most important Kirchnerite-era achievement?

Yes.

And were there any mistakes?

In diplomacy you don’t normally acknowledge mistakes (laughs).

Well, what has to be done then?

If Argentina is part of a South America that sees its democratic institutions grow, we’ll be closer to success. We have a big challenge that has to do with exploration of hydrocarbons. We have to use diplomatic means to prevent a looting that will hurt future generations.

What can we expect from the memorandum of understanding signed with Iran to investigate the 1994 AMIA Jewish community centre attack?

I try to be careful when talking about these issues but I’ve always been sceptical. I’d like to be wrong but reality seems to justify my scepticism.

@lucianabertoia

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