Shortly after returning from his trip to New York, President Mauricio Macri hopped on a bus in the district of Pilar, in the greater Buenos Aires area to, according to his Twitter account, tell the passengers all about his plan to renew the roads in the area.
Recorriendo Pilar en la línea 520 para contarles a los vecinos el plan de renovación de los corredores de colectivos en el conurbano pic.twitter.com/ICwoGeYu4l
— Mauricio Macri (@mauriciomacri) September 22, 2016
In the picture, a comfortable Macri can be seen telling passengers all about his plan to make their shitty commutes — buses in the area mostly have to go through bumpy dirt roads that become literally impossible to transit when it rains — a bit less shitty. But perhaps he was too comfortable. And that might have had to do with the fact that few hours later it was revealed that the whole thing had actually been staged. The bus wasn’t moving: it was stopped in an empty lot that was heavily guarded by the president’s bodyguards.
— CasaRosada 2003-2015 (@CasaRosadaAR) September 23, 2016
But we should have realized that without the new pictures. No one grabs the handles of both sides of the bus, taking over the entire aisle without getting beaten up by other passengers. Not even the president.
Furthermore, several outlets argued that passenger were actually extras specially hired for the occasion. No one seems to have been able to prove that yet but this kind of staging may not be unique. After that news surfaced a person who identified himself as an actor wrote on Facebook how he had been hired to impersonate a construction worker in a rally led by Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal.
Anyway, it didn’t take long for social media to burst with criticism toward the president.
De los autores de “Timbreo”, “El beso en la ONU” y “Bici en el Central Park” llega “Viaje en colectivo de Macri”.
— Sergio Ranieri (@sergioranieri) September 23, 2016
“The simulation-government. From those who brought you the ‘doorbell-ringing,’ the ‘kiss at the UN’ and ‘biking in Central park,’ now you get ‘Macri’s bus ride'”
Macri sacándose la foto en el colectivo es como esos que se sacan la selfie haciéndose los dormidos.
— Javier Sin Tierra (@JavierSinTierra) 23 de septiembre de 2016
“Macri taking a picture on the bus is like those who take a selfie pretending to be asleep.”
El corto publicitario de Macri viajando en colectivo es una de las producciones más pobres y peor actuadas del cine nacional.
— hal (@HaL______) September 23, 2016
“Macri’s short film riding a bus is one of the worst and poorly-performed productions in domestic film history.”
After this embarrassing revelation, some were quick to point out that this strategy could create a negative backlash against the government considering they’ve happened before. The point is to make it look like Macri and his administration are close to the public, when they are actually hiring actors to avoid doing just that.
“What this method doesn’t need — and what makes it deplorable as a political strategy — is to broadcast something that is false. It’s not just because it exposes the president to ridicule, but also because it underestimates his audience. His audience? Or should we talk about the citizenry he represents?” writes journalist Ursula Ures in an article for Perfil.
In an interview with AM 950 Belgrano radio, publicist Fernando Braga Menéndez said that, “with the bus thing, [the government] screwed up. They took us for stupid. Without a doubt, this is negative for the government. People are slowly starting to become wise to these stagings,” he said.