President Mauricio Macri’s government really doesn’t like that the former administration and its allies seemed determined to name pretty much half the country’s public buildings Néstor Kirchner after the former president died in 2010.
Ever since Macri came to power there were hints left and right that the government intended to do something about it. And now it seems the government is finally ready to move forward with a bill that would reach the goal through a more subtle way: by forbidding any state-owned building from being named after a person who died within the last 20 years. Sure, this would also include personalities who enjoy universal acclaim such as the late cardio-surgeon René Favaloro, but guess that would count as collateral damage.
Still, even that measure wouldn’t be perfect in the eyes of Kirchner haters since a national law wouldn’t prevent provincial administrations from naming the buildings whatever they want.
Considering the bill would make the changes retroactively — which is basically the whole point — the government would be able to change the name of numerous buildings, hospitals, streets, stadiums and even trees named after Kirchner. OK, maybe not the last one. But it’s clear that the big fish this law wants to catch is the Kirchner Cultural Center (CCK), the massive building that used to be the central post office.
Surely Macri wasn’t delighted about hosting a state dinner in honor of U.S. President Barack Obama in a massive building named Kirchner. And he likely wasn’t too happy that he invited CEOs from large multinational companies to invest in the country during the Argentine Business and Investment Forum, assuring the Kirchner era was something from the past, in a building that has that exact last name literally engraved in stone.
The head of the Federal Network of State-Owned Media and Public Content, Hernán Lombardi said in an interview that the measure “is part of a central goal of changing the post office’s name” because “it shouldn’t be named Néstor Kirchner.” Why? Because it represents “a populism from which all Argentines are trying to escape.”
According to this map, there are around 30 state buildings under the national government’s sphere of influence that could get the name Kirchner wiped off their front doors.
In order to achieve this goal, the bill would create a special committee in Congress tasked with determining names of “buildings, other assets, roads, monuments, works and entities in general.” Sounds like a fun job, right?
Among other requisites, the bill notes that “the names must be directly tied to Argentina or have unarguable importance for the national or universal order.” The “names of authorities who have held office against the democratic order and denominations that are contrary to the democratic values, peace and social concord, or that are an offense to any person or group” won’t be allowed either.
There is at least one silver lining for those who disagree with the measure. The bill won’t be able to change the name of a new species of mouse that was discovered in Patagonia by two Conicet scientists in 2013. Rest assured, the Tympanoctomys kirchnerorum is safe. But even that silver lining has a cloud: the species could be endangered by several mining projects operating in the area, according to BBC world.