Following a number of threats against President Mauricio Macri and an incident last Friday that saw protesters hurl rocks at a government vehicle transporting the head of state, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announced that the President’s security would be tightened. His vehicle will be fortified and individuals who threaten government officials will face legal proceedings.
Bullrich spoke to América TV on Sunday and revealed plans for a fortified vehicle to safely transport the President. The Mercedes-Benz Vito will be ready in September, she said. For the time being the President will be transported in a fortified vehicle courtesy of the Federal Police.
Macri was accompanied by Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal to announce public works in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires Province, last Friday when a number of Argentines at the scene booed the public officials, throwing rocks and insults at the government vehicles transporting them as they left.
“Macri, basura, vos sos la dictadura” (“Macri, you’re garbage, you’re the dictatorship”) was one of the chants voicing discontent.
While speaking to América TV, Bullrich laid the blame for Friday’s incident on Argentines aligned with Kirchnerism: “Here we have a group affiliated with Kirchnerism, not Kirchnerism in the broad sense, but Kirchnerism as it pertains to the last President [Cristina Kirchner]. What this group does is switch the language of democracy with stone throwing, aggressive behavior and impeding the President wherever he goes by means of demonstrations.”
Regarding the threats Macri has received, Bullrich said, “As soon as the first threats started, we took a clear and consistent stance, investigating each and every one of them.” Yesterday, she told Clarín that, “People need to know that threats are not taken lightly, that we will find them and prosecute them if deemed necessary.”
Clarín reports that thousands of 911 calls have been made regarding bomb threats and threats to politicians’ lives, including Macri’s, specifically. So far three people have been detained (and two released) for threats published on social media.
Despite the fact that measures are being taken to tighten security, Bullrich told Todo Noticias that these are more precautions to be taken. “I can’t confirm that there truly are people out there who are prepared to end the President’s life; what I am saying is that we don’t want to find ourselves in this kind of [volatile] political climate, we want calm and peace, and [protesters] can criticize in a peaceful way. When violent environments are formed, there is a potential for things to get out of hand and bad situations can become worse. I do not believe we are at that precipice.”
“Protesters are seeking to derail the current government into a situation where they can’t govern effectively, and we are not about to let that happen,” she added.
— TN – Todo Noticias (@todonoticias) August 16, 2016
Some of the Macri administration’s more unpopular measures, such as the tarifazo (or utility bill hikes), have led many Argentines to take to the streets to voice their anger regarding their precarious finances. Macri generated further discontent last week when he spoke to BuzzFeed News and alleged he didn’t know how many Argentines were disappeared during the last military dictatorship. Human rights groups have declared the number of disappeared was 30,000. Negating that number is widely seen as an affront to the preservation of past and present human rights in Argentina.