Borders and Coast Guards in conflict won’t yield; government looks for scapegoats
Argentina’s Security Ministry decided the intervention of the Border Guards’ Department of Judicial Affairs due to severe deficiencies found in the application of the officers' wage demands, which led to the current situation that on Friday night was beginning its fifth consecutive day of conflict.
Likewise, Security Minister Nilda Garré ordered the sanction and suspension of those officers responsible for the deficiencies, stated a communiqué.
In order to achieve the intervention, an administrative task force marched to the Centinela building, the Border Guards headquarters and sealed the judicial area to preserve documents.
According to the ministerial resolution the audit showed irregularities in the process of judicial measures regarding wage claims. It also stated that the Security Ministry will now be in charge of this area.
Meanwhile the protesting members from the Borders and Coast Guards announced that they will continue with their demonstrations waiting for the official reply to their list of petitions presented to the authorities who promised a reply before next Tuesday.
The Gendarmerie in Argentina is not only responsible for border patrolling but also accomplishes other security tasks in government buildings and some conflicting areas. Likewise the Coast Guard is not limited to sea patrolling but also must comply with some law and order duties in certain areas.
While the three traditional branches of the Argentine armed forces have been downgraded in resources and numbers, the Borders and Coast Guards, under the Kirchner couple administrations, have seen their numbers increase to over 50.000 and have also been assigned most of the intelligence gathering.
Last week a decree which was intended to mend long standing distortions in salaries, categories and contributions to pension funds, following on a court ruling, ended up implementing cut reductions in pay checks between 30% and 60%, which finally triggered the conflict.
On Thursday the Ministry of Security announced that all the deductions which caused the misunderstanding had been eliminated and pay checks were back to normal. However the conflict did not cease and on the contrary the protest continued this time with a long list of petitions including a starting wage or 7.000 Pesos equivalent to 1.400 dollars.
Protestors however have continued to comply with their forces’ responsibilities and those camped outside their headquarter buildings in downtown Buenos Aires and demonstrating are unarmed.
Meanwhile a branch of Argentina’s organized labour, which responds to the government, called for an end to the conflict and stated in full page ads in Friday newspapers that the “current protests leave citizens exposed and fearful” and insisted “security can’t be conditioned to any petitions, no matter how fair and honest, because it can become extortion and an open challenge to the constitutional authorities of a democratic States”.
But the secretary-general of the powerful CGT umbrella union Hugo Moyano, assured that “it is ridiculous” to label the protest over Border and Coast Guard wages a coup or an attack on democratic institutions.
“The greatest creator of this situation is the government itself,” the union boss said, furthering that “people want to live in a democracy, but in a real democracy, not in the kind of democracy that only gives authority to those who have responsibility to govern.”
Meanwhile President Cristina Fernández held her Friday agenda at the Olivos presidential residence, where she met several officials, in a week which only counted with one public rally.
Along the day, Cristina Fernández received Cabinet Chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina, Economy Deputy Minister Axel Kicillof and the head of the Anses, Diego Bossio.
It was the third consecutive day with little public activity. The Head of State continued with low profile, and still has not given any statement over the Border and Coast Guard officers protest.
This week, the Argentine leader headed a rally at the Government House and met with her Lebanese counterpart, with whom she held a shared conference about bilateral relations and international politics.