Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal — the first women and non-Peronist to hold the office since 1987 — opened the province’s 144th legislative session yesterday evening. In honor of the event, she delivered a speech in which she urged legislators to look to the future of the province. She also made a handful of jabs at the previous governor, Victory Front’s (FpV) Daniel Scioli. Ultimately, though, she reminded us that “now is not the time for revenge, but for growth.”
And it would appear that we could use some; Vidal informed us that under the previous administration, the Province had amassed AR$22 billion worth of debt and was run by an administration that was “more prepared to block than to govern.” She went on to state that “today, the Province is hurting. If indeed we care, we must also hurt for the half of our neighbors that are without sewers or potable water.”
“The Province will not hold up to more improvisation and short-term action. I didn’t promise magical solutions during my campaign, and I won’t start now. We will do what we must: work closely for 24 hours on end , stay together and tell the truth.”
Among the issues Vidal plans to combat while in office are gender-based violence, unemployment and widespread corruption and impunity, she said. She added that she anticipates one of her administration’s greatest challenges will be “to do battle against the mafias of corruption and negligence,” citing the December 2015 escape of Cristian Lanatta, Martín Lanatta and Víctor Schilacci, sentenced to life in prison for 2008’s triple murder in General Rodríguez, as “evidence of a crisis in the penitentiary system.” Said crisis occurred just over two weeks after Vidal assumed the governorship. The three fugitives were taken back into custody shortly after their escape, but not without the deployment of three helicopters, 600 law enforcement agents across several provinces, as well as a pretty formidable screw-up that saw the national government triumphantly announce that all three men had been captured, when two of them were still at large. For her part, Vidal fired the ranking officials suspected of aiding the fugitives.
According to the governor’s discourse, greater transparency in government and law enforcement will play a large part in restoring trust and order in Buenos Aires Province. She announced that she had introduced a decree that would oblige herself and fellow legislators to present sworn declarations of their assets, qualifying it as “public information.” She also called upon ranking law enforcement officers and their equivalents in the penetentiary system to come forward with their sworn declarations of assets within the next 30 days.
“In this government,” she stated, “there is no space for the mafia.”
And we sincerely hope she’s right. That said, more concrete details on how the governor plans to accomplish such lofty goals are scarce. Since the Assembly only just opened yesterday, we’ll simply need to wait and see if there’s any substance behind all that ambition.