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Morón signs Scioli’s police bill, with objections

Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioil is seen with Morón Mayor Lucas Ghi yesterday.

Left-wing mayor agrees to enter law enforcement programme if granted certain privileges

Two opposing political forces from within Kirchnerism found a common ground on the law-and-order front yesterday, with Morón Mayor Lucas Ghi agreeing — albeit on his and his political movement’s own terms — to sign up to BA province Governor Daniel Scioli’s controversial municipal police project.

Ghi responds to former Morón mayor and AFSCA media watchdog boss Martín Sabbatella, who over the years has been one of the most vocal critics of Scioli among those Kirchnerite leaders who are more loyal and closer, ideologically speaking, to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Sabbatella has on previous occasions described Scioli as a “fake Kirchnerite.”

Speaking in Morón, Governor Scioli said yesterday that “the fight against insecurity should not take place in political terms.”

With 13 other municipalities already signed up, Ghi joins a growing number of mayors in the province to agree to the municipal police project that Scioli launched by decree late last month, after months of deadlock in the provincial Legislature, to a wave of criticism from human rights groups demanding greater clarification and commitments from the Scioli administration on the selection and training of the news police officers.

However, the mayor’s commitment to the plan came with its conditions.

The 361 new municipal police officers Morón will have are likely to be trained in Morón, and not in La Plata, as the programme stipulates. What’s more, the deal is believed to involve the creation of a special crime map for Morón, which will rely on the generosity of the provincial police and judiciary for data. On Sabbatella’s and provincial lawmaker Marcelo Sain’ orders, the Morón-specific project will also allegedly take on a human rights perspective in the training of municipal police described as being more in line with the social policies of the Morón municipality.

Left-leaning Ghi and Sabbatella have long opposed Scioli’s law-and-order policy, considered hard-line and lacking awareness of the importance of social inclusion in eliminating crime.

In what may not have been a coincidence, the BA governor yesterday took the opportunity to talk up his social policy credentials, describing his government’s perspective of “security” issues as “integral.

“We seek to ensure sanitary security in hospitals, security in what’s done in social services like drinking water and sewers, and job security,” he said, calling the latter a “fundamental pillar of the family.”

Likewise, Ghi took a softer tone, this time on Scioli, describing the “team work, flexibility, and generosity of the governor who with this policy decision created by decree the municipal police, while the Renewal Front, with its political pettiness, couldn’t even allow a debate of it in the Upper House.”

Long-term foes

Sabbatella is known to take a hard line on Scioli, who on the contrary has barely said a word about the criticism from the AFSCA boss.

“Scioli’s administration has been poor,” Sabbatella, the leader of the Nuevo Encuento youth group, had said in 2010. “I think he belongs to the Argentine centre-right.”

Indeed, while Sabbatella had once been linked to the local Communist Party, Scioli first came to power under neoliberal former president Carlos Menem. Scioli’s connection to Menem has been another point that Sabbatella has taken issue with.

From polar ends of the Kirchnerite spectrum, the two came together last August — if only for the photo opportunity — in what was interpreted as a united front against presidential hopeful Sergio Massa. Massa is the leader of the Renewal Front, the dissident Peronist group that in October won the majority of votes in national mid-terms.

A former Tigre mayor, Massa’s campaign was based heavily on his crime-fighting credentials in the Greater Buenos Aires district, where as mayor he had installed thousands of security cameras.

Scioli’s municipal police bill calls for the creation of a new police force in provincial districts of more than 70,000 residents.

Herald staff

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