January 17, 2018

Former UNEN member Gustavo Vera talks to the Herald

Monday, August 18, 2014

‘All those who were not Peronists were considered saints’

By Federico Poore
Herald Staff
Gustavo Vera is the head of “La Alameda” foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on the battle against slave labour and prostitution syndicates. Earlier this month, Vera left the UNEN front after citing an “unjustifiable shift” in lawmaker Elisa Carrió’s stance on Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s PRO administration. The firebrand lawmaker fired back this weekend, saying the very Pope Francis — a personal friend of Vera’s — “wanted him on the ballot list” in last year’s midterm elections. In conversation with the Herald, the City lawmaker dismisses those claims and gives his own version of events.

Elisa Carrió said Pope Francis asked her to put you on the City ballot as a lawmaker running with the UNEN ticket. What’s your view on that?

The allegation is completely insane. The real story is like this: in March or April 2013 Carrió called me to her house and repeated an invitation to join their ticket. She said “think it over,” while some of their political operators, like Mario Cafiero, kept encouraging us to say yes. We agreed to run, making it clear we were going to run under the Alameda seal and to keep the same promises we always had — meaning we would denounce any act of corruption, regardless of those involved. On June 20 I’m presented as the head of the UNEN City ticket and seven days later Pope Francis receives me in Rome.

Did the pope say anything about UNEN specifically?

UNEN wins the PASO primaries (in the City) and I told the pope there’s some serious infighting for the spots on the lists. He wrote back to me saying I should keep going down the same path.

You’ve said Carrió has not spoken to Francis for over 10 years.

Carrió hasn’t spoken to him since the year 2000, 2001, so that’s more than 10 years. She was at odds with some of my statements over how to build a political force and I told her: “Look, Lilita, I don’t know if you’re speaking to God or what. I’m going to give you a personal letter where Francis tells me: ‘keep doing that thing you do.’” So she kept us in the same spot (on the ticket) she had promised before and stood by us during the campaign. The deadline for ticket registration was on September 7. It was a butchery.

What do you mean?

It’s what I call the “top of the ticket syndrome”, all those who lead their respective tickets are then pushed aside. Take a look at (PRO City lawmaker Iván) Petrella or (FpV City lawmaker Jorge) Taiana — they’re not even leading any of the 32 committees at the City legislature.

You left the UNEN caucus just days ago. What was the main reason — the work being done at the bloc or discussions over corruption?

Many media outlets said we left the bloc because we were not invited to discussions with party leaders — but that might be the 19th reason. The main problem is that we had been called to take part in an anti-mafia, anti-corruption front, but Lilita now talks about an anti-Kirchnerite front.

Did anybody in the bloc actually tell you to stop talking?

We were denounced through all means, from social networks to the corridors (of city halls).

Carrió said you’re now close to the leader of the anti-government CGT Hugo Moyano.

The fight here at La Alameda was to rescue people from sewing-machine slavery and to organize their labour force. Where should we be taking them, to a hippie fair?


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