Immediately after President Mauricio Macri announced a major restructuring of Argentina’s armed forces, members of some sectors of the opposition and other political and social actors critical of the government criticized the decision. They argue it hides an ulterior motive to enable the Army to repress social protests they’re certain will grow in the coming months, as a result of the administration’s policies they deem detrimental to the most vulnerable sectors of society.
These actors also focused on highlighting that, in order to implement the plan, the government has to modify existing laws preventing the military from getting involved in issues concerning homeland security, only allowing it to intervene in cases of aggressions of external origin. Head of the Frente Para la Victoria (FpV) caucus in the Lower House, Agustín Rossi argued that as a result, the debate has to “go through Congress,” rather than being implemented via Presidential decree. It has not yet been announced how the decision will be implemented.
Casualmente cuando recrudece la crisis social por el ajuste y el pacto con el FMI, Macri apela a la demagogia punitiva y continúa su degradación de la democracia y el estado de derecho.
— Agustin Rossi (@RossiAgustinOk) July 23, 2018
“By chance, when the social crisis get worse as a result of the [government’s] austerity measures and the agreement with the IMF, Macri appeals to punitive demagoguery and continues to erode democracy and the rule of law,” he added in a tweet this morning.
Rossi, who briefly held office as Defense Minister during the second Kirchner administration, was referencing the long-standing Ley N. 23.554 from 1988, which stated that “in order to elucidate the issues pertaining to National Defense, the fundamental difference that separates National Defense from Internal Security must be kept permanently in mind,” and indicates that “Internal Security will be governed by special law.” In addition, the 2006 Decreto 727, signed by late President Néstor Kirchner, further limited the armed forces’ capacities to address “aggressions of external origin perpetuated by armed forces belonging to other states.”
It is worth noting that the latest modification to the Army’s capabilities were made via the mentioned 2006 decree rather than going through Congress, of which he was part as National Deputy representing the FpV, Kirchner’s party.
Las Fuerzas Armadas tienen prohibido intervenir en cuestiones de seguridad nacional. Sin embargo el Gobierno Nacional anunció que hará cambios y romperá un acuerdo de la democracia Argentina. pic.twitter.com/FgCAC9xc7u
— Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (@CELS_Argentina) July 23, 2018
“The armed forces are forbidden from intervening in matters of homeland security. However, the national government announced it will make changes and break an agreement of Argentine democracy,” reads the tweet published by the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS).
¿Colaborar en seguridad interior? Nuestra ley es clara: ese no es el rol de las FFAA. La dictadura M prepara la represión popular en la última fase del saqueo.
— Fernanda Vallejos (@fvallejoss) July 23, 2018
“Collaborate in homeland security affairs? Our laws are clear: that is not the armed forces’ role. The ‘M’ [for Macri] dictatorship is preparing a plan of repression of the popular sectors, as the last part of its plan to loot [the state coffers],” reads the tweet of FpV National Deputy Fernanda Vallejos.
Nilda Garré, Security Minister between late 2010 and June 2013 under the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, focused on the fact that the plan includes the closure of some military barracks, with the properties consequently being sold for resources and to modernize military equipment.
El plan de “reconversión” de las FFAA que #Macri anunciará este lunes, incluye el cierre de unidades militares y la venta de sus predios. Hay que evitar que se disfrace un negocio inmobiliario y garantizar que lo producido se reinvierta en #Defensa, según propongo al Congreso. pic.twitter.com/0RphWgHFwR
— Nilda Garré (@nilda_garre) July 21, 2018
“We need to prevent this from becoming a real estate deal and guarantee that the resources are invested in defense, as I am proposing to Congress,” reads the second half of the tweet.
Frente de Izquierda Deputy Nicolás Del Caño echoed Vallejo’s claims, arguing the Macri administration wants to “have the armed forces within reach to use them in the repression of the social protests that will multiply to challenge the tough austerity measures the agreement with the IMF demands.”
No prominent member of the Peronismo Federal – Senator Miguel Pichetto, Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey, Deputies Pablo Kosiner and Diego Bossio – nor the Frente Renovador – Sergio Massa or deputies Graciela Camaño, Facundo Moyano, Marco Lavagna – have spoken about the decision at the time this article is being written.