He President Alberto Fernandez announced that will send the Army to carry out urbanization tasks as part of the package of measures with which the National State seeks to cooperate with the province of Santa Fe and the municipality of Rosario in the face of the growth of violence linked to drug trafficking. Although the national government remarked that military personnel will not carry weaponsfrom the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) They described the decision as a “serious event” that could contribute to blurring the lines between defense and security.
The government designs an Army intervention in improvement tasks in the popular neighborhoods of Rosario, which can include anything from the construction of streets, the provision of drinking water or the creation of spaces for socialization. What the Directorate of Army Engineers will do will be defined at a table with Governor Omar Perotti and Mayor Pablo Javkin in the coming days.
In the Ministry of Defense, led by Jorge Taiana, they had been working on a proposal before the President’s announcement, but the decision will speed up time. It is likely that the fine print will be defined in an agreement between the municipality and the Corps of Engineers, they explained in the Casa Rosada. The message that comes out of the portfolio is that there will be no disorderly landing, but that the places where the Army will carry out the tasks will be defined, and that will also be what will allow us to know how many men will be deployed.
Although the President remarked that these are the Armed Forces of democracy, the presence of the Army in a territory always brings concern. The first thing that the government highlighted is that the Army will not carry weapons and that, in the event of carrying out tasks in a certain area that construction companies did not want to attend due to the escalation of violence, the military will be provided surveillance by the security forces.
“This has been done in the pandemic, it was done before and it is being done now”, They say in the Executive Power. Among the antecedents, they cite the urbanization of La Carbonilla in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Paternal that had been done during the first management of the current chief of staff Agustín Rossi as Minister of Defense. The then head of the Army, César Milani, forged his friendship there with the president of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Association, Hebe de Bonafini. They also mention the role of the Army during the isolation and with the floods. In the province of Buenos Aires, the armed forces contribute to the urbanization of the Los Hornos settlement.
There are other types of intervention by the Army such as the one registered in Salta. There, after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IDH-Court) condemned the Argentine State for the violation of the rights of the original communities in the case of La Cajonal, the Army was working on drilling wells to bring drinking water . “In that case, it is a service. The Army does it because it has the capacity to do it but the province finances it”, explain sources familiar with the case.
The President pointed out that the intervention of the Army occurs within the margins granted by the National Defense Law, sanctioned during the government of Raúl Alfonsín to limit the role of the Armed Forces after their criminal actions during the last dictatorship. The National Defense Law completes what is known as the “democratic consensus” block with the Internal Security Law, adopted during the government of Carlos Menem, and the Intelligence Law -approved during the presidency of Fernando de la Rúa and reformed during the second government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner–. Part of that democratic consensus is that the Armed Forces cannot carry out tasks that correspond to the security forces.
The National Defense Law enables the participation of the Armed Forces within what is defined as “Civil Defense”, which is the possibility of intervening in environmental catastrophes or “other disasters”. A decree of November 2006, 1691/2006, defines the main and subsidiary missions of the Armed Forces. Within the subsidiaries, there is support for the national community and catastrophes, natural disasters and “any other circumstance” are mentioned there.
Within the national cabinet is the diagnosis that an abandoned or underdeveloped area can function as a propitious environment for the growth of crime. “The announcement that the national government will send Army divisions to Rosario is a serious event, which shows the political failure to seriously resolve urban violence and the limitation to a punitive approach to the problem”, they retort from the CELS.
“Violence is not reduced by spasmodic and improvised actions. In recent years, the deployment of federal security forces has been a political bargaining chip between the national government and the provinces. To this logic, now they add the Armed Forces”, they pointed out from the human rights organization.