Buenos Aires said on Tuesday it was prepared to help financially Santa Cruz province, but demanded a serious program to put in order the regional government´s accounts, which has seen its basic services of education, healthcare and justice paralyzed because of months in arrears to staff.
Over the weekend a peaceful demonstration outside the Santa Cruz government residence in Rio Gallegos turned violent when it was revealed that governor Alicia Kirchner was hosting her sister in law ex president Cristina Fernandez who had arrived in the city from El Calafate, where she normally resides.
Rioting forced the police to move in with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to contain protestors who nevertheless managed to throw stones and jump to the residence's gardens. On Monday members of the CTA workers union declared a full day strike to protest what was described as police violence.
From Buenos Aires Interior minister Rogelio Frigerio said the Treasury was ready to send 850 million Pesos (approx US$ 65 million) to normalize Santa Cruz services, but a serious program must be presented to put in order provincial finances.
Once the province comes up with a plan to gradually recover public accounts and a return to institutional normality, we will monitor the situation. Current leaders of the province must be responsible for what happened in Santa Cruz during the last quarter century, said Frigerio in clear reference to the time the province was tightly under control of the Kirchners, both ex presidents Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez.
Deputy Interior minister García de Luca said that the Banco Nacion had an 850 million Pesos check ready to be delivered, and the central government was willing to offer co-lateral so the province can go to the international money markets to request loans.
Garcia de Luca also revealed that Santa Cruz had already received 1.200 million Pesos to pay salaries plus another 20.000 million from federal co-participation among Argentine provinces and 27.000 million from (oil, gas and other minerals) royalties.
Furthermore Santa Cruz has 115 public employees every 1.000 inhabitants, well above the national average of 50, and back in 2007 enjoyed a comfortable surplus in its accounts, but by 2015 had the largest budget deficit of all Argentine provinces, despite all the resources discretionally granted by the government of president Cristina Fernandez.
Meantime the unions of teachers, healthcare workers and courts staff anticipated they will mount tents outside the governor's residence to continue with their protest, and have requested Argentina's Attorney General Office to remove Romina Mercado as solicitor in representation of the Santa Cruz province in several cases involving the Kirchner family.
Romina Mercado is the daughter of governor Alicia Kirchner and niece of ex president Cristina Fernandez.