December 17, 2017

Santiago del Estero, the first option

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

CFK opens door to moving capital

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner last night threw her weight behind moving the capital to Santiago del Estero, an idea hitherto only pioneered by Lower House Speaker Julián Domínguez. This unexpected proposal “for a new territorial design in a changing world” came during a visit to that provincial capital to inaugurate infrastructural works ahead of this Sunday’s elections in the northern province.

This marked the first time that a serving president has proposed a change of capital since Raúl Alfonsín announced the transfer of the seat of government to the Río Negro coastal town of Viedma in 1986 (an initiative which obviously never became reality).

But unlike Alfonsín, CFK stressed the necessity of the new capital being in the heart of the country and even though she herself spends almost every weekend deep south in her Calafate home in Santa Cruz, she also recommended a city lying further to the north rather than the Patagonian Viedma of Alfonsín’s choice.

Although long regarded as a hinterland backwater, Santiago del Estero has been rising fast in national politics last month — late last year its two-term governor Gerardo Zamora (legally barred from re-election and installing his wife in his place) had barely entered the Upper House as a newly elected senator when he was named its provisional head, a move many pundits saw as a reaction to the growing legal entanglements of Vice-President Amado Boudou. Zamora was reportedly given preference because, as a maverick Radical, he had no independent power base, unlike his Peronist colleagues.

Whereas Alfonsín decreed the move to Viedma in 1986, CFK stressed that she was only presenting “an idea which must be discussed and thought through by all Argentines.”

One of the main virtues of the new capital, said CFK, would be being closer to the Pacific, which she saw as the future hub of the world — the “strategic thinking” which she said corresponds to leaders of a country. The latter should not rule just thinking of the four or eight years they are in charge but 50 years ahead.

In order to underline her determination, CFK said she would not be deterred even if opinion polls showed 80 percent to be against the idea.

“If (independence hero José de) San Martín had had to consult the opinion polls before crossing the opinion polls, they would have been negative,” she said.

Herald staff with DyN

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