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Interview with Sebastián Aurucci, former national director of relations with provinces and municipalities.
President Macri 's government surprised everyone when a few days ago published in the official gazette resolution 956/18 regulating the use of firearms by federal security forces. The surprise was both for cabinet members and opposition sectors and human rights agencies, who immediately went to question and prosecute the measure.
The toughest criticism came from the hand of the fire friend of Elisa Carrió who, faithful to her style, manifested itself against a turn towards fascism on the part of the government . Some sectors of society think that we are in tune with an international context that favors hard-handed positions against crime, and comparisons with Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's speech were not lacking. Internally, criticism revolved about the opportunism of the measure.
To discuss these issues, we talked to the political leader and former national director of relations with provinces and municipalities, Sebastian Aurucci .
The official publication of the protocol brought a lot of controversy. Do you think it's right for the government to move that way?
I understand that yes, because the resolution published is within the framework of Minister Patricia Bullrich 's powers as an internal regulation of the federal forces. It would have been better if the protocol was announced in the context of the adoption of the new penal code, but the draft reform could not pass this year through Congress and since the executive has been working on these amendments months so that the police can have a clear framework of work.
What do you mean by a clear framework? Were the current code and protocols in place not enough?
You think each force had its protocol and in some cases the police couldn't use the gun if the offender didn't fire first. It was many years of doctrine that he argued that the police had to fulfill their duty to give people security but under the accusing gaze. The previous protocols were nonsense if the goal was security . That is why the new code under discussion includes an amendment to article 34, which specifically deals with the responsibility of police officers who are performing duties. Under the current code, the policeman using his weapon is framed in self-defence, but that is absurd because if the police wanted to defend himself, he would not be jeopardized in the first place in order to perform his function, it is a contradiction . With this it seems to me that the government is giving the message that a policeman with the ability to fight crime wants, and the progressive leftist sectors don't like that because they justify crime as an act of social justice. Notice that it came to say that this protocol was to suppress workers' protests with lead...
Just because of this and for other points such as not loud or shooting a fleeing offender, many argue that it is illegal: it authorizes the police to repress without respect for human rights.
It's fake. Nowhere is this allowed as a rule, and in its first article it makes it clear that the police must at all times comply with the duties imposed by law and that the use of the weapon is only as a last resort or in danger of life. The claims to assimilate the exceptions provided for in the regulation to an authorization to kill are precisely intended to generate the idea that the government does not respect human rights . In addition, we have to explain to people that this does not exempt policemen from being investigated by the justice system in case any excess is found. And with regard to the legal order, I do not see how illegal a regulation which does not intend to amend any higher rules and which are governed by the principles established by the United Nations for the use of weapons can be illegal. In addition, with this protocol the life of an offender facing the police is not in danger, he just has to surrender. Surely many like the idea better that crime has an advantage . Clearly there is a speech that prefers to polemize about the potential risk of police acting, but he avoids talking about the real consequences suffered by crime victims and their families and they do not see any potential risk on a fleeing offender to justify police not intervening. That is why I say that the message is clear, if you jeopardize third parties and challenge authority, the responsibility is yours.
But I insist on this because Judge Gallardo declared her unconstitutional...
First it should be clarified that it is for the city of Buenos Aires because Gallardo does not have federal competence. Secondly, I do not see how an abstract rule can be declared unconstitutional before a formal act by the city government. As I understand, the judge requested that any protocol respect Article 34 of the city's constitution which calls for the principles of the UN. On the other hand, there is a clear political intent on the part of the opposition and the sections of the progressive left to link the fight against crime with the idea that the government seeks to suppress social protests . With regard to the protection presented by legislator Myriam Bregman before Judge Gallardo, it seems to me that it follows the left front line and I don't want to talk about it promptly because I don't know it, but assimilating workers to criminals when you say to defend them is to see it with a psychologist. Social problems are resolved from politics and in such cases the police fulfilled the specific role of maintaining order while exercising the right to demonstrate, but under no circumstances is the use of lethal weapons authorized.
But not only in the city, the governor of Santa Fe does not adhere to the protocol because he believes that with current rules is sufficient and the governor of Buenos Aires also does not adhere to...
These are different cases. Lifschitz does not adhere because he says he is not needed and protocol is only a response to a society that became more receptive to a discourse that privileges, according to him, the use of violence. But it says it from Santa Fe, one of the most dangerous cities, in addition to having the city of Rosario taken by narcos. I repeat, there are sectors of politics that feel comfortable accepting that crime is out there and that their inaction is justified by their respect for law and human rights . That is why it makes it uncomfortable, and more at a time when elections are coming, that the national government has moved from having anti-insecurity policies that are reactive and put their finger on the police to active security policies where the police perform their function within a clear legal framework to be able to provide security to society. With regard to the Buenos Aires case, the main issue is that Gov. Vidal since she assumed has been fighting to purge a provincial police officer who was partly complicit in the crime. I think there are more than 13,000 exempted today. It seems logical to me that you take your care and privilege to advance first to have a reliable and capable force.
And does the international context influence the protocol? It is said to be the result of the Bolsonaro effect.
I don't think so, because this protocol has been analyzed for months. In addition, “international context” would imply talking about the various challenges that States have in providing security , such as France that prepared its forces against terrorism and is now facing urban unrest, or Mexico that in the face of mass assassinations has to rethink the fight against drug trafficking and the use of their armed forces. What I do see in common in that context is that security-concerned governments adapt their standards to provide effective responses to the threats they face.
So the Bolsonaro effect does not exist?
It exists in the social imaginary that demands security, but let us think that Bolsonaro has not yet assumed the presidency, so what happens today in Brazil is the result of existing laws and regulations. Here the real danger is that society does not clearly see institutional boundaries. That's why protocol is so important: because it makes the limits clear . I don't see Argentine officials celebrating the death of a criminal, it would be a very bad message for society, but I do think it is a huge change to institutionally support the fight against crime. In addition, Brazil has a homicide rate 6 times higher than that in Argentina, and there is much ignorance talk about the way its security forces operate. They have another concept of order and there is no ideological support for the “bandits” as they call criminals in Brazil.
This week there was a case where people were yelling at some criminals arrested by the police, how do you see that situation different from what happens in Brazil?
From my own experience, I can tell you that in Argentina we could not adopt the criteria for the use of legitimate violence that Brazil has. They are more identified with the idea of imposing order and society accepts that there is a battle between good and bad , and in that struggle the means used by the police are what is necessary. It is normal to see public street shootings that generate dead by lost bullets or to see the BOPE (Special Operations Battalion) enter the favelas directly to execute drug traffickers. The idea of order and danger go hand in hand for the Brazilian because he accepts the widespread use of violence . This seems to me more like the proposal by Mr Olmedo than that of the government, because we are more aware and, although we have the same demand for security, society demands a stricter control framework. What I want to tell you is that Brazil has lived with these levels of insecurity and violence for years and that is why the discourse is understandable from politics.
Beyond the differences you comment, here we also have a problem with insecurity, is it not exactly an electoral argument?
It's not just a speech. In Rio de Janeiro, a candidate (I think he was Paez) won the quartermaster promising to apply a policy he called “Clash of Order” to regain control of the city. The guy did and it was chaos, a war between cops and mafias that lasted five months. All the improvement of public order fell apart with the economic crisis making it clear that when the problem is social the police cannot solve it by force: even the police were on strike. Another serious case was when BOPE, with the help of the army, intervened the most dangerous favelas by giving the narcos 48 hours to surrender. They were relentless with those who did not surrender and wanted to resist or flee and although they later installed the UPP, police pacification units, and security improved, the overall framework did not change and today the neighbors live in a violent context. Here that speech is just that because in practice our society wants security, but not at any cost. I see it more like Olmedo's proposal: a minority sector of society thinks that giving free rein to the police does not bring danger to them, but that is not the case, you unleash an open conflict that in our country mobilizes progressive sectors and NGOs, which in Brazil does not happen.
Is it going to be a campaign issue for the government?
It is probably a compelling argument in the upcoming elections, but it seems to me that Patricia Bullrich took an important step with the protocol to show that there is an effective commitment to providing security and not just a speech , and on that the president agrees. The difference in Olmedo's case is that his speech may be more extreme because he does not have to deal with the consequences of implementing any security policy. In the case of the government it is more complex because in the face of elections no mistake can be allowed. What I see is a positive scenario for the government if in the remainder of the elections it can show progress on security issues because society will accompany a tough proposal, but within the framework of institutionality, because it will consider it viable in practice.
Publication Date: 13/12/2018
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