He looks like a slapstick comedian, wears a yellow jacket and a Donald Trump pin, and has a taste for offensive jibes. But who is Alfredo Olmedo, the cock-eyed, gap-toothed mavrick legislator from Salta?
Well, for one thing, he’s the only deputy to vote against the Social Emergency Law, which was passed yesterday by the Argentine Congress.
The law, which will see increases in social welfare payments and the delivery of “food, housing, education, clothing, medical cover, transports, vacations and welfare protection” to informal workers, was approved unanimously, with one exception….
On the topic of the bill, Olmedo said that “people line up to receive money for doing nothing,” and “no country rises up by encouraging laziness,” before complaining about rights. “Enough of all this talk of rights. Rights for this, rights for that. What about obligations?”.
But this racing car driver, congressman and businessman – the son of Alfredo Olmedo Snr (aka The King of Soy) – is so much more than just the odd one at the Chamber of Deputies.
Here are his top five moments.
That time he advocated the death penalty
Because it’s expensive to pay for prisoners. “Are you going to keep them in jail,” he said to La Gaceta. “Someone has to pay every month to support someone who is more than a delinquent, someone who lost all their values, someone who has lost the value of their life, I would say.”
He also put his name to another initiative which would see capital punishment meted out for anyone who committed homicide because of “pleasure, lust, or hate based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or its expression.” And another that would drop the age of accountability to 14 years.
Olmedo does value the life of embryos though. In relation to abortion, he said, “there are so many families trying to have kids. Why would you kill them?”
2. That time he presented a bill moving the Capital of Argentina to Salta
A mere day after encouraging Congress to publicly wish Donald Trump “the best of luck,” Olmedo proposed that the Federal Capital of Argentina be moved to the “polygonal territory” comprised within the “cities of General Güemes (Provincia of Salta) y Pampa Blanca (Province of Jujuy).”
This is not even his strangest bill. According to Infobae, he proposed the President become the Godfather of all seventh sons and daughters. Though, admittedly, if you put it in context, this is not so crazy. Apparently, it’s an Argentine tradition that the President becomes the godparent of the seventh-born child. For example, in 2014, CFK ‘adopted’ the seventh-born son of a Jewish family.
*Funny sidenote – The Independent first reported that she did this to save him from becoming a werewolf.
3. That time he made much of his wealth in a “scandalous land transfer“
In 2000, EcoForrestal, a company partly owned by Olmedo, was awarded 320,000 hectares of prime farming land during the privatisation of state-owned Salta Forestal, with the added benefit that they wouldn’t have to pay tax on it until 2021. EcoForrestal won this enviable contract because they promised they wouldn’t plant monocultures and would invest 36 million pesos each year in improving the quality of life of the people.
Didn’t happen (according to Pagina 12, they cleared at least 30,000 hectares for soy production and no community benefit was felt), and in 2008, the government started negotiating for the return of some of the land.
4. When he supported a proposed law creating special bathrooms for gays
This is, after all, the man who said, “I have a closed mind and a closed bottom too.” (Though he used to be against divorce and then divorced his wife, so, who knows, maybe one day he’ll become gay, as this interviewer pointed out.)
Intriguingly, he tried to present the law as anti-discrimination. “We all know that God created man and woman, but if there are those who thinking differently we should respect their needs.” It seems that Olmedo was just trying to “solve a growing problem, which is the presence of homosexuals in public or recreational spaces, for whom problems are created the moment they need to use bathrooms, which can create confusion.”
It’s still not clear why gay people would get confused about using public toilets — perhaps Olmedo is trying to refer to trans people, though it’s doubtful they have problems using toilets.
5. When he proposed physical and chemical castration for rapists
In 2013, Olmedo ran an election campaign that centered on castrating rapists, who he believes are not “human“. The campaign used a pun (“Corta por lo sano y sin anestesia or play it safe and castrate for health without anaesthetic) and a person in a giant, winking Olmedo costume holding a sign with red scissors to get the message across.
It was all part of a broader appeal to conservative and religious values: “Society is crying out for order, respect, a return to values. We don’t want to live in licentiousness,” he said.
“Castration now! Olmedo”
6. When he admitted to giving people motorbikes in exchange for voting for him
The interview, conducted by Diario 26, went like this:
“Is it true that in your electoral campaign you gifted cars and motorbikes so people would vote for you?”
“Yep, that’s how it was. I had a way of getting people to go to rallies. I don’t have political punteros or the money or the structure of the state to get people to go the rallies and so we raffled off 4 cars in total and won 83 thousand votes. The difference is the money was ours and not the state.”
At least he’s honest.