AFSCA aprobó el plan de Telefé

AFSCA green-lights Telefónica divestment plan

por Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 17-12-2014

The AFSCA media watchdog led by Martín Sabbatella finally approved last night the plan filed almost two years ago by Telefe to comply with the Broadcast Media Law.

It was a five-to-two snap vote, with criticism from opposition representatives Gerardo Milman (GEN) and Marcelo Stubrin (UCR).

The divestment plan presented by Spanish conglomerate Prisa — owner of several radios throughout the country — was also approved. And while the vote was unanimous AFSCA board members had “different arguments for their votes,” Milman told the Herald last night.

Both companies have vowed to sell their excess broadcasting licences to meet the anti-trust requirements of Article 45 of the Media Law, which establishes that no radio or TV company can have control of more than 35 percent of the total market share.

The meeting at the AFSCA headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires lasted for more than five hours. It began at 4pm, but at press time representatives from the board of directors — including Ignacio Saavedra, Néstor Avalle, Eduardo Rinesi and Claudio Schifer — were still discussing the last few issues on the agenda, sources at the meeting explained.

Ties with Telefónica

As the Herald reported earlier this year, the main point of contention regarding the case of Telefe (the country’s most popular broadcast TV channel along with Clarín Group’s Channel 13) was Article 24, which bans providers of public utilities from holding a broadcast licence.

Critics explained that while Telefe and Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica do not have any cross-ownership of shares, they’re both subsidiaries of the same parent company, Telefónica de España.

Telefónica runs a major landline phone service and thus should have abandoned either this line of business or its broadcast services.

Last month, AFSCA proposed a resolution requesting Telefe’s plan to “be formally declared admissible” on the grounds of a technical opinion issued by the watchdog’s legal experts.

“The systematic interpretation of the legal order leads us to conclude that Telefé... is authorized to offer audiovisual services,” the opinion read.

Yesterday, Milman and Stubrin challenged AFSCA’s majority opinion. They argued Telefónica was at odds with the premises of the broadcast regulation which was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court last year, but the resolution was finally passed at yesterday’s seemingly endless meeting, where 207 cases — from radio and TV grants to the placing of new channels in the cable grid — were discussed.

The vote follows a major decision regarding the fate of Clarín, the country’s largest conglomerate, that has been at odds with the CFK administration since 2008. In October, Sabbatella accused the Clarín Group of fraud and announced it will move forward with a forced divestment plan for the company’s excess licences.

Angry by what they described as a lack of access to the documentation supporting those claims before they could vote for or against Clarín’s divestment, Milman and the other opposition director, UCR’s Marcelo Stubrin, abstained from voting and the resolution was passed by a five-to-two vote.

Centroizquierda se busca

The elusive space of the centre-left
Conservative turn of Radical party, UNEN coalition leaves centre-left vacancy in 2015

por Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 25-11-2014

The row over a potential alliance with centre-right leaders like Sergio Massa or Mauricio Macri has sparked bitter infighting among leaders of the non-Peronist UNEN coalition. Last week, firebrand Civic Coalition lawmaker Elisa Carrió left the political grouping and blasted her former colleagues for their lack of ambition after several of the so-called progressives among them took a hard line with the PRO party.

So what’s progressive in UNEN? A reformulation of the Broad Progressive Front that finished second in the 2011 presidential race? What will non-Peronist, centre-left figures hope to achieve if conservative leaders like lawmaker Julio Cobos and Senator Ernesto Sanz retain the leadership of the Radical (UCR) party, and in turn the backbone of the coalition?

In an op-ed published in April, sociologist Maristella Svampa said that “before the trouble of the disputes within the centre-left, (a space which has been) almost completely dominated by Kirchnerism throughout the decade, we have witnessed different and surprising alliances.”

In this context, Svampa said, several centre-left leaders have added a pragmatic twist to their attempts to seduce an electorate disenchanted with Kirchnerism.

“The result was the ‘right-wingization’ of political forces that were, until recently, part of the progressive camp — and a relative revival of the Radical party, whose policies in the provinces have nothing progressive about them.”

According to the author of Exclusive Society: Argentina Under Neoliberalism, the centre-left camp has offered voters some major leaders like Fernando “Pino” Solanas, Margarita Stolbizer and the heads of the Socialist Party. But the country has failed to create “a strong space for progressive politicians willing to go for deep changes.”

Analogías consultancy head Analía del Franco seemed to agree.

“Progressive voters will need to ponder a lot in 2015,” Del Franco told the Herald.

With nine months to go until the primaries, Macri, Massa and Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli (a Kirchnerite ally who began his political career during the neo-conservative administration of Carlos Menem) are leading the polls. The three of them are seen as either conservative liberals or populist Peronists — in any case, more rightist than the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration.

“Progressives are one thing, but non-Peronists are another,” she stressed. “Sanz or Cobos seem to be leading the coalition, but the major progressive figure in UNEN is actually (former Santa Fe governor Hermes) Binner.”

In one piece — or several

This begs the question of whether the coalition will make it to the presidential race at all.

“I find it hard to believe UNEN will reach the 2015 elections in one piece,” sociologist Gerardo Aboy Carlés told the Herald. “The coalition has committed several mistakes.”

What were those errors? “For starters, the Radical party acted as an heterogeneous group without clear leadership. It behaves as a federation of local blocs.”

Then there’s the role played by the Socialist Party, Aboy Carlés said.

“I believe the Socialists should have been more emphatic from the very beginning in their rejection of an alliance with Massa and Macri.”

Carrió and Sanz have voiced their call for a deal with the centre-right party that rules Buenos Aires City so that the coalition can reach a potential runoff, as most polls have UNEN in fourth place. This debate has been dragging on since the alliance was founded earlier this year, but especially since the Civic Coalition leader walked out of a UNEN event in BA City while Solanas delivered a speech strongly dismissing any partnership with “modern right-wing parties.”

So should centre-left leaders quit UNEN as well?

“It’s a possibility,” Del Franco said. “I don’t rule out Binner running by himself, along with other progressive groups like the Libres del Sur party” led by Humberto Tumini and Victoria Donda.

A full-out progressive ticket is not likely to get them to the Pink House in 2015, but it might secure a far from negligible voter base.

If they fail to do so, the sociologist said, chances are that left-wing parties gain some votes at the expense of former progressives.

“I see (Workers’ Party leader Jorge) Altamira and (PTS lawmaker Nicolás) del Caño taking votes if progressives are unwilling to vote for the candidates on offer. But it’s obviously a minor, more sophisticated vote.”

Even the ruling Victory Front (FpV) might benefit from this “progressive failure” as centre-left sectors of Kirchnerism could capture a share of this vote, Del Franco concluded.

Pasa con cambios la Ley de Telecomunicaciones

Senate OKs revised telco bill for debate
Net neutrality strengthened as Kirchnerite senators incorporate conclusions of previous debate

por Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 20-11-2014

Telecommunication companies will not be allowed to provide satellite TV services and cooperatives will receive special funds that will help them compete with big players. These were the two major amendments made to the Digital Argentina bill by lawmakers from the ruling Victory Front (FpV) following criticism and suggestions for the regulation — set to replace the 1972 Telecommunications Law — which was first announced last month.

The bill was yesterday cleared for debate during a meeting of the Media and Freedom of Expression Committee presided over by Senator Liliana Fellner (FpV-Jujuy). The Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration now expects to have it passed in both houses of Congress by the end of the year.

The new bill establishes that the government should “guarantee competition and push for the development of regional markets,” with the goal of avoiding asymmetries between companies.

Enforcement authorities are encouraged to implement regularization programmes for small-sized cable TV providers operating in the country’s interior, allowing these firms to get their paperwork in order.

“It’s been said that Digital Argentina would end up benefiting the communication powers-that-be, but that’s not true. The voice of small- and medium-sized companies is included in several articles of the bill,” Fellner said yesterday. “The rights of telecommunications cooperatives and small-sized companies will be protected.”

In previous weeks, representatives from such firms had stressed that in their current form the articles did not “distinguish” between their small-scale operations and companies having dominant market positions. This was a worrying fact as the new bill allowed for the renting of space on existing telecommunications networks that have been established by their competitors in exchange for a fee.

In this context, representatives noted that they would struggle to compete against large telecommunication companies like Telecom or Telefónica if they had to lend them their infrastructure.

Following the latest changes, telecommunication companies should abide by “exclusion zones” yet to be determined that will prevent them from offering broadcast services immediatly after the law is passed.

‘GOOD DEFINITION’ OF NET NEUTRALITY

Article 8 says companies offering telecommunication services must obtain a licence in order to operate. The following article specifies that all firms are obliged to register whether these companies offer “landline or mobile, hard-wired or wireless, national or international, with or without infrastructure of its own,” with the enforcement authority.

Activist groups like the Argentine Pirate Party argue that this (together with Article 6 that includes a broad definitions of “information and communications technology services”) may force even small manufacturers with a mobile app in the marketplace to register as a telecom provider with federal authorities.

Nevertheless, the Pirate Party — a staunch defender of users and their online rights — hailed changes made to other sections of the bill, such as the chapter regarding net neutrality, that is, the concept that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all traffic as equal.

As the Herald reported earlier this month, the Digital Argentina bill unveiled in October used such broad language that some worried it could become meaningless, especially since lawmakers have been discussing the issue in the Freedom of Speech and Media Committee for one year and seven months. (In its first draft, the measure only said that the country’s leaders will “guarantee” net neutrality.)

Now most of the issues that have already been discussed in the Senate committee were added to Digital Argentina, including a set of prohibitions. If the bill is passed, telcos will not be able “to block, interfere with, discriminate, hinder, nor restrict the right of any Internet user of using, sending, receiving or offering any content.”

The incorporation of the Senate’s opinion will also mean companies will be obliged to provide customers with minimum connection speeds. The speeds, still to be defined, must be revised every two years.

Another major modification is that the bill now confirms landline telephone as a “public service,” which ratifies the government’s authority to regulate tariffs. The first draft had declared the service a matter of “public interest,” which at the time was seen as a way of de-regulating the market.

CONCERNS OVER NEW AUTHORITIES

“My main concern with the bill is that it is still leaving the main definitions and the concrete implementation of the law to an enforcement authority to be appointed by the Executive branch,” Gustavo Fontanals, a media expert and investigator at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), told the Herald.

“This authority will be in charge of defining the main aspects of the regulation, that is, the degree of openness of local networks, the implementation of differentiated tariffs, the definition of companies having ‘significant market power’ and the measures to promote competition, among others.”

In this regard, the bill echoes the main problem with the current regulation: the concentration of all important decisions in the top ranks of the Executive branch.

“This means there will be no institutional channels for the participation of public agents such as Congress, academic representatives, consumers’ associations or related businessmen,” Fontanals said.

Until now, the sector’s companies are overseen by the Communications Secretariat led by Norberto Brenner.

Telecommunications analyst Enrique Carrier seemed to agree with Fontanals.

“It’s a good move not to allow telcos to offer satellite TV, but this issue with the enforcement authority — that is now too discretionality — must be solved as well,” Carrier wrote on his Twitter acount.

Opposition blocs have so far failed to comment on the amendments to the bill.

Senator Gerardo Morales (UCR-Jujuy) said his colleagues needed “at least one week to analyze them” and asked Fellner for a week’s time before the committee gives its opinion. But the FpV representative said “all voices had been heard” and went on with the decision, which passed with the FpV’s majority.

The government wants to discuss the issue on the floor next Wednesday so as to allow the Lower House to secure its final approval before the end of the year.

¿Por qué somos el país más anti-norteamericano del continente?

Anti-US sentiment rises in Argentina Uncle Sam’s popularity lowest in the region as disillusionment with President Obama kicks in

por Ignacio Portes y Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 17-11-2014

Anti-US sentiment is running high in the country, with a recent poll indicating that only 36 percent of Argentines have a favourable view of the United States.

The staggering figure is a full five percent lower than last year and the lowest of the Barack Obama era, the survey — conducted by the Pew Research Centre — revealed.

Experts consulted by the Herald argued that while the US has at times been a scapegoat for the local political class since the mid-20th century, developments like the role played by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in recent years, and the failed promises of the Obama administration have led to disenchantment with the world’s number one economy.

Uncle Sam’s popularity in the land of tango is the lowest in Latin America, way below figures from other key countries in the region such as Chile (72 percent), Brazil (65 percent) and Venezuela (62 percent). In fact, Argentines seems to be even more “anti-American” than Arab nations like Tunisia (42 percent) and Lebanon (41 percent).

In a list of G20 nations, ranked according to their “favourable” views of the US, Argentina scores among the bottom three spots, with admiration of the US only lower in Russia — a long-time foe of Washington — and surprisingly, in Turkey.

Carlos Escudé, scholar and former foreign policy adviser to the Carlos Menem administration, said he was not surprised by results.

“Argentines have in mind that our country historically entertained not-so-good relations with the US — unlike other Latin American nations such as Brazil,” Escudé told the Herald.

“The conflict comes from long ago, when Brazil and the US became members of the allied coalition that participated in World War I. These smooth relations continued beyond the forties and into the postwar period, while Argentina was being economically boycotted by the United States,” Escudé recalled.

According to historian Mario Rapoport, Argentina has “never been understood” by the US.

“I’ve read scores of diplomatic documents where the US talks about Argentina and vice-versa, and there’s an incredible amount of verbal violence when they refer to us, and not so much the other way round. The accusations of Nazism against Argentina were always led by the US, and they weren’t really true,” Rapoport argued.

Both specialists agree about the role of the economy in the historic rivalry. In Escudé’s view, “the Brazilian economy, unlike Argentina’s, got developed in a way which was complementary to that of the US,” while Rapoport adds that “Brazil sold the US its coffee, Chile its copper, but Argentina was seen as more of a competitor.”

One should also take into account the appeal that Europe’s always had to the Argentine elite and middle classes, Escudé said, explaining that other countries which have also clashed strongly with the the US such as Mexico or more recently Venezuela have, instead, “a strong US influence at a very popular level: I mean, people play baseball, something unthinkable in Argentina.”

Even though some specialists trace the conflict back to the early 19th century, when Argentine conservatives favoured the UK over the rising US, the first tenure of Juan Domingo Perón is widely seen as a turning point in the popular sentiment regarding this rocky bilateral relation.

Perón won the election with the historical slogan “Braden or Perón,” which confronted him with the then US ambassador Spruille Braden, a businessman tied to the United Fruit Company and Standard Oil, who had accused Perón of being sympathetic towards the Nazis. Even if relations with the US improved afterwards, with Perón signing an oil contract with California’s Standard Oil, large parts of the labour movement would go on to fondly remember Perón’s period with the chant “neither Yankees nor Marxists: Peronists”.

“Argentina has a very politicized society, there are pro- and anti- feelings about everything. And the relationship with the US has been politicized since, at least, the 1940s,” says political scientist María Esperanza Casullo, who runs the news portal Artepolítica.

The sentiment has deepened in recent years, Casullo added.

“Overexposure of IMF officials during the 2001 economic crisis surely added to the mix,” she says, and recalled the fact that Anoop Singh’s IMF mission to Argentina Anoop Singh made it to the local headlines for almost a year.

“In any other country no one would recall the surname — not to say the face — of a third-rank official of the IMF,” Casullo argued.

During the 1990s, Argentina held a close — “carnal”, in the words of then-Foreign Minister Guido di Tella — relationship with the United States, but the decade ended in tears, with a five-year recession started in 1997, for which the US ended up getting a significant portion of the blame.

“Di Tella and (his predecessor Domingo) Cavallo tried to changed Argentina’s political culture toward the United States in the 90s,” explained Escudé, who was part of that effort, “but regrettably it failed.”

In his view, this has meant that the US remains a convenient scapegoat used by the political classes to try to influence the mood of the masses in the local political battleground.

Obama: no hope

A more recent shift was the country’s opinion of the incumbent US president. Confidence in Obama has fallen from 41 to 31 percent in just one year. It is not only the lowest in the region (even 33 percent of Venezuelans have a positive view in the US president) but the lowest since the Democrat leader took office in 2009.

At the beginning of the first Obama administration, 61 percent of Argentines were confident in the powerful head of state (a major improvement since the all-time-low seven-per-cent popularity of George W. Bush). But trust has been eroding ever since.

“The war against Iraq launched by Bush had a major impact here,” Casullo said. “But we must not forget that Obama’s policies toward the region are very similar to the ones of his predecessor.”

Historian Mario Rapoport seems to agree — but with a disenchanted twist.

“Argentina was never a major area of interest for Obama,” Rapoport told the Herald. “As a matter of fact, the country has never been a priority for the US when it comes to its relationship with Latin America.”

But the sentiment is a two-way street, the historian said.

“Argentina has always maintained privileged relations with Europe in terms of markets and cultural affinity.”

The US free-market culture is much less trusted than Europe’s economic ideas, seen as more friendly to the idea of state intervention.

Most recently, the US administration was seen as unsopportive of Argentina’s position in the sovereign debt conflict with the Paul Singer-led vulture funds in New York’s courts, with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner complaining about Obama’s lack of intervention, compared to when even his predecessor George W. Bush helped Congo in a similar case.

Entrevista a Martín Sabbatella

"La obligación es tratar los otros planes en forma igualitaria, no en forma simultánea"

por Federico Poore

El 8 de octubre se aprobó la adecuación de oficio de Clarín. ¿Cómo sigue esto?
Ahora hay que llevar el caso al Tribunal Nacional de Tasación para que tase [las licencias]. Después AFSCA determina qué es lo que se concursa, y las licencias se ponen a concurso público.

O sea que no hay forma de que Clarín pueda volver al camino de la adecuación voluntaria.
No, la adecuación voluntaria está finalizada. Clarín intentó hacer trampa, el Estado detectó la trampa y suspensión la adecuación voluntaria. El AFSCA les dio todas las posibilidades. Primero le permitió sumarse a la adecuación voluntaria presentada por su socio el 5 de diciembre [de 2012], luego recibió un plan de adecuación en noviembre [de 2013] y para febrero ya había admitido ese plan. Propone dividirse en seis unidades, y esas unidades cumplen con los requisitos de la ley: ninguna de ellas está excedida de los límites. Pero en el siguiente paso, cuando traen los nombres –y AFSCA obviamente tiene que investigar si no hay vínculos societarios– nos damos cuenta que existe esa trampa. Por lo cual es mentira lo que dijo el Grupo Clarín de que hemos aprobado un plan que después le desaprobamos. Lo que aprobamos es una estructura de cómo iba a quedar conformado el grupo, sin nombres. También es mentira que no le informamos y que no respondieron. Le informamos sobre los vínculos societarios que estaban teniendo.

Se refiere a la famosa Nota 640, cuestionada por los directores por la oposición.
Ahí dijimos: ustedes dicen que se dividen, pero los fiduciarios de los fideicomisos que administran las Unidades 1 y 2 son socios de estudios jurídicos cruzados. Ellos contestan que no, que no hay vínculo societario, que si lo hubiera estarían violando el Artículo 48 [de la Ley de Medios]. Reconocen que tienen que ser independientes. Pero los propios vínculos con su estudio ya son una sociedad comercial. No son dos médicos que comparten un consultorio: son dos médicos que abrieron una clínica. De hecho, esos abogados son socios en otras empresas, por fuera del famoso estudio jurídico. Pero aún sacando los abogados, Ernestina, Magnetto, Aranda y Pagliaro tienen sociedades cruzadas en Argentina, Panamá, Nueva Zelanda y Estados Unidos.

Marcelo Stubrin y Gerardo Milman sostienen que AFSCA no pidió la opinión de la Comisión Nacional de Defensa a la Competencia (CNDC).
En el Artículo 48 la ley establece que antes de autorizar [la transferencia de licencias] el AFSCA tiene que evaluar estos cruces. La CNDC debe evaluar que las empresas no se cartelicen o lleven a cabo prácticas desleales, pero después de que estén constituidas las empresas.

Clarín y los representantes de la oposición argumentan que el Grupo no tuvo tiempo para defenderse.
Es también es falso. Sabían que el cruce entre sociedades estaba prohibido y lo escondieron. La principal preocupación que debe tener el directorio de este organismo es si las empresas de medios cumplen o no con la ley. Es mentira que el miércoles 8 tenían que estudiar el expediente. Lo que no sabían es que yo iba a tratar el dictamen sobre tablas, pero eso está dentro de las facultades de cualquier director.

Si Milman o Stubrin agarraban el expediente en septiembre, ¿podían encontrarse con todo lo que se le planteó a Clarín? ¿No hubo varios elementos nuevos el 8 de octubre?
Las condiciones [impuestas] a las señales ya estaban en el expediente. Los vínculos societarios en relación a Nueva Zelanda o Panamá, [no]... pero los vínculos entre los estudios jurídicos sí. Hubo muchas cosas nuevas, pero si mirás el acta del directorio no hubo ningún pedido de cuarto intermedio. La otra cosa es que ya pasaron quince días.

¿En qué sentido?
[Milman y Stubrin] estudiaron y leyeron el dictamen. ¿Y entonces? ¿Se puede o no se puede tener empresas cruzadas en Panamá, en Nueva Zelanda, en Estados Unidos? Suponete que no les gustó votar sobre tablas. Quince días después, ¿Milman y Stubrin respondieron a mi pregunta? ¿A Milman le parece razonable que se le dé una señal [a otro licenciatario] sin perder el control [sobre esa empresa]?

¿Se va a mantener el esquema original de las seis empresas?
Puede ser que sea sobre la misma lógica de lo que se aprobó. No estamos obligados, pero puede ser. Mantener la misma estructura [que presentaron en noviembre de 2013] es una posibilidad.

¿Le van a dejar a Clarín la Unidad 1, la que tiene TN y Radio Mitre?
Clarín no puede tener la Unidad 1 y la Unidad 2. O mantiene la 1 o mantiene la 2. Veremos cuál es el plan del concurso.

LOS OTROS GRUPOS
¿Qué pasa con los planes de adecuación de Telefónica, Telecentro, Prisa...?
Hay tres planes que no se trataron: Telefé, Prisa y [los medios de Raúl] Moneta. Hay 40 planes de adecuación. Se trataron 37. Tres, no. La obligación es tratarlos en forma igualitaria, con la misma vara, no en forma simultánea. Las prioridades las establece el AFSCA y sus equipos y ya se trataron 37 de 40 expedientes.

El único plan grande es el del Grupo Ick.
Se trató DirecTV, Supercanal, Telecentro, el Grupo Índalo... Ojo, no están terminados. Se admitió su plan de adecuación, no están "cerrados". Cerrados hay siete. [Planes] clausurados, de los [grupos] grandes no hay ninguno.

Hace un año su argumento era "no podemos desconcentrar a los más chicos sin desconcentrar primero al más grande porque en tal caso agudizaríamos la concentración". Luego, el argumento de AFSCA fue que todos los planes iban a ir "al ritmo de Clarín". La pregunta es, ahora que se trató el plan de Clarín, si hay alguna fecha para tratar estos otros planes.
No sabemos una fecha, pero vamos a tratar todos los planes. La intención del organismo es no agudizar un problema que teóricamente tiene que venir a resolver. Nuestra función es combatir la concentración mediática, sea con la empresa que sea.

¿Hay chances de que algún otro grupo se le aplique la adecuación de oficio?
Cualquiera que esté en un proceso de adecuación voluntaria e intente hacerle trampa a la ley puede correr la misma suerte e ir a la adecuación de oficio. Todos tienen las mismas exigencias. A todos se les dio mucho tiempo, pero una cosa es usar el tiempo para cumplir con la ley –no es fácil vender– pero otro es usar el tiempo para hacer trampa.

El 10 de octubre se cumplen cinco años de la ley de medios. ¿Qué éxitos y fracasos acumuló en este tiempo?
El primer año la ley estuvo parada totalmente. Y en cuatro de esos cinco años, también estuvo frenada la adecuación. Es decir que en materia de adecuación la ley solo estuvo vigente un año... Y a pesar de eso hago un balance muy positivo. Pero vimos una profunda transformación, un anclaje federal que rompió la lógica del área metropolitana de Buenos Aires. La ley ha hecho que en muchas ciudades del interior esté la primera radio, la primera señal [de TV] o la primer productora audiovisual. Hay cientos de nuevas radios y canales en todo el país. La exigencia de contenidos locales e independientes ha logrado 6.000 horas de contenidos nuevos. Hay 160 cableoperadores nuevos en el país, muchos de ellos cooperativas. Hay radios y canales de pueblos originarios, de universidades, de escuelas...

No mencionó ningún fracaso.
Hubo concursos que tuvimos que hacer de vuelta. Fue un proceso de ensayo y error, porque la ley es nueva. Quizás los precios de los pliegos [para participar de concursos para otorgar nuevas licencias] para las organizaciones populares y sin fines de lucro hacían justamente que estas organizaciones no pudieran participar. Los fondos del Fomeca se podrían haber puesto antes... Pero insisto: no es una ley que se pudo aplicar tranquila desde el primer día.

Ir hacia una adecuación de oficio, ¿no favorece la judicialización del proceso de desconcentración de Clarín?
¿Qué pueden ir a decir a la justicia? "¿Quisimos hacer trampa y nos descubrieron?"

Bueno, en 2009 encontraron jueces amigos.
Eso puede pasar. Pero lo cierto es que el AFSCA no puede aprobar un plan que viole la ley. "Che, para que no vayas a la justicia, aprobémosle este mamarracho". La ley hay que cumplirla.

La oposición argumenta que hubo una orden política para avanzar con la adecuación de oficio.
No hubo ninguna orden política. La única directiva que me dio la presidenta fue hacer cumplir la ley, sin excepciones para nadie. Nunca hablamos de un expediente en particular.

¿No cree que la aplicación accidentada o fallida de la Ley de Medios le da letra a quienes quieren cambiar o derogar la ley?
Los que quieren derogar la ley lo quieren hacer porque son representantes de esos intereses corporativos. No creo que haya una aplicación fallida de la ley. Todo lo contrario: hay quienes intentan violarla y nosotros estamos haciendo lo que tenemos que hacer.


Una versión en inglés de esta entrevista se publicó en la edición impresa del Buenos Aires Herald del 28 de octubre de 2014. 

Entrevista a Alfredo Pucciarelli y Paula Canelo

"Cada vez que la protesta crece, reaparecen los intentos de militarizar la seguridad interior"

por Federico Poore




Los tiempos de la política argentina son tan veloces que a veces resulta difícil zambullirse en el zeitgeist de hace 14 años, cuando la teoría de los dos demonios hacía escuela, aún estaban vigentes las llamadas Leyes del Perdón y el ministro de Defensa era Ricardo López Murphy.
Los sociólogos Alfredo Pucciarelli y Ana Castellani recogen el guante en Los años de la Alianza, libro que analiza los vertiginosos acontecimientos de la etapa 1999-2001. Uno de sus principales capítulos, escrito por la investigadora Paula Canelo, estudia los vaivenes de las Fuerzas Armadas en el marco del gobierno de Fernando De la Rúa.
Pucciarelli y Canelo reciben a Viernes en un bar de Caballito y reconstruyen el rol indefinido de las fuerzas armadas y las tensiones con el área seguridad, un dilema que tiene puntos de contacto con el presente.

¿Cómo definirían la situación en las fuerzas armadas en aquel entonces?
Paula Canelo: La cuestión militar era una herencia pesada para el gobierno de la Alianza por tres motivos. Primero, por la reapertura en el frente de derechos humanos (que se había mantenido en estado de hibernación durante los primeros noventa), incluyendo la aparición de una organización como H.I.J.O.S. y la apertura de causas que pedían la extradición de militares argentinos en Italia y España. Luego está la reconfiguración internacional de las Fuerzas Armadas con la aparición de las llamadas nuevas amenazas, riesgos vinculados a fenómenos muy difusos como el narcotráfico, las guerrillas o los movimientos indigenistas. A pesar de que por ley tenían prohibida la intervención en seguridad interior, comienzan a ver en estas amenazas la posibilidad de darse un nuevo rol. En tercer lugar, la cuestión presupuestaria, con Menem profundizando la línea de reformas iniciada por Alfonsín ya que consideraba a las Fuerzas Armadas como parte del aparato estatal que había que achicar. Pero detrás de todos estos problemas hay un gran tema.

¿Cuál?
P.C.: La incapacidad de los gobiernos civiles post-dictadura para otorgarle a las fuerzas armadas un rol consistente en democracia, más allá de tenerlas apartadas de la seguridad interior. Y el gobierno de la Alianza no tiene políticas que puedan revertir esta situación porque el problema militar era un problema secundario frente a otros, como el problema económico o la pérdida del poder político.

¿Cuál era el perfil de Ricardo Brinzoni, a quien De la Rúa nombró jefe del Estado Mayor del Ejército?
P.C.: Tanto su nombramiento como el de Ricardo López Murphy en Defensa son señales claras. Se buscaba llevar tranquilidad.
Alfredo Pucciarelli: Parte de un pacto de no agresión.
P.C.: Recordemos que las fuerzas armadas venían de las autocríticas de (Martín) Balza y otros pronunciamientos sobre la necesidad de abrir una nueva etapa en la historia de las fuerzas. La designación de Brinzoni busca clausurar estos episodios de autocrítica. En cuanto a López Murphy, es un radical de larga data, con perfil técnico, tenía posgrados en el exterior... era lo que podríamos decir un ministro técnico.

Hay una paradoja con López Murphy. Estaba muy alineado con el discurso político de la “reconciliación”, pero económicamente era uno más de los ministros ajustadores. De hecho, es quien termina llevando el presupuesto de Defensa a mínimos históricos.
P.C.: En ese momento todos los militares estaban recluidos en su resistencia frente a nuevos achiques, salvo Brinzoni, que se dedicó a reunificar a la gran familia militar. Pero Brinzoni y López Murphy forman una dupla sólida al frente del binomio Defensa/Fuerzas Armadas. El ajuste se compensa con la promesa de no profundizar cuestiones vinculadas a los derechos humanos.

¿Qué sucede en marzo de 2001 cuando se declara la inconstitucionalidad de las leyes del perdón?
P.C.: Mirando las declaraciones de militares del período, la sensación es que están al borde del abismo, que la desintegración está a un paso. Aunque lo más interesante es ver no lo que hacen los militares en actividad (que tienen ciertas responsabilidades) sino los retirados, que en ese momento se agrupan en distintas asociaciones cívico-militares y que tienen más posibilidad de hablar. Además tienen sus propios medios de comunicación, como el diario La Nación, que les dio mucho espacio para hablar sobre cuestiones como las hipótesis de conflicto, la pérdida de autoridad del gobierno y el avance de la protesta social. Son los mismos militares que en los noventa habían sido opositores acérrimos de Balza. Y muchos de ellos, como (Reynaldo) Bignone, eran procesistas.

¿De dónde vienen los intentos de aquellos años por llevar las fuerzas armadas a nuevos roles en seguridad interior?
P.C.: Los límites entre estos bandos son muy difíciles de establecer. Por un lado están los partidarios de la militarización, que apoyan la intervención en la lucha contra el narcotráfico y el control de la protesta social, por el otro aquellos que (Marcelo) Saín llamó defensores del consenso básico en materia de seguridad. Pero los bandos se entrecruzan: en el primer grupo hay jefes de Estado Mayor, senadores, diputados, altos funcionarios... pero en el otro grupo también. El bando de los opositores a la militarización se activa sobre todo a nivel parlamentario (piden informes al Ministerio de Defensa sobre planes que especulan en torno a estas "nuevas amenazas"). Resulta interesante cruzar esta agenda con la de la protesta social, porque cada vez que la protesta crece, aparecen intentos institucionales de avanzar en la militarización de la seguridad interior. Es decir que avanzan juntos.
A.P.: Esta búsqueda de volcar hacia la derecha la agenda de seguridad termina neutralizada porque hay una situación de empate. Cada una de estas fuerzas tiene la capacidad de bloquear el desarrollo de los proyectos del oponente pero no la capacidad de imponer el suyo propio.

Después de López Murphy viene Horacio Jaunarena. ¿Qué cambia con él?
P.C.: Jaunarena es un ejemplo muy particular dentro de la historia de la defensa de los últimos cincuenta años. Nombrado por Alfonsín luego de la muerte de dos de sus ministros de defensa, por entonces era prácticamente desconocido, de hecho había ocupado una concejalía en Pergamino y nada más. Pero llega y se queda en un contexto que habría justificado la salida de 14 ministros. Toda la era carapintada Jaunarena la sobrevive y se transforma en uno de los funcionarios más importantes de Alfonsín. En la época delarruísta, es convocado por su pertenencia política a la parte más conservadora de la Unión Cívica Radical y por su experiencia en el área de defensa, una de las cualidades menos habituales en todos los ministros de defensa argentinos.

Con el recrudecimiento de las protestas a mediados de 2001 reaparecen dos áreas, una que habla de infiltrados y pide la presencia del Ejército y otra más dialoguista entre las que se destaca Juan Pablo Cafiero. ¿Cómo se dan estos cruces al interior del gobierno?
P.C.: Todas las agendas se vieron bloqueadas por este enfrentamiento permanente entre las dos almas del gobierno de De la Rúa: una muy vinculada a la represión de las protestas sociales, con (Juan Pablo) Baylac, Patricia Bullrich, y un ala más moderada que se va a ir retirando progresivamente. Pero me parece que la imagen de Juampi Cafiero yendo a dialogar a Salta (N.d.R.: en medio de los cortes de ruta en Mosconi) es más bien un manotazo de ahogado del gobierno de la Alianza. Pero también hay algo para aprovechar: la protesta se va institucionalizando, con lo cual aparecen interlocutores, actores con los que hablar. El problema en diciembre de 2001 es que desaparecen los interlocutores.
A.P.: Para entender este conflicto hay que analizar también el rol ambiguo del alfonsinismo. Alfonsín apoya la línea de oposición, pero cuando el conflicto crece reaparece el síndrome Illia, el fantasma de lo que (Ricardo) Balbín le hizo a (Arturo) Illia, y entonces retrocede. Los conflictos aparecen, crecen, y se congelan dentro de la Alianza pero se aíslan para mantener una mítica unidad alrededor de una coalición que ya no sirve más.

Para sorpresa de muchos, una vez que el gobierno colapsa los militares no actúan como partido militar ni produce un golpe. ¿Esto tiene que ver con la disgregación de las fuerzas?
P.C.: Recordemos que los militares ya habían pasado por un momento de crisis fundamental en el cual no intervinieron, que es 1989. Hay una postura muy decidida en los estados mayores de no intervención, dado que posibilidad de proyectar el futuro de las fuerzas implica la no intervención en conflictos políticos. Muchos podrán argumentar que las fuerzas armadas temían sanciones. De hecho, mucha de la literatura que ha intentado explicar el posicionamiento militar después del Juicio a las Juntas lo explica en ese sentido. Pero para mí no es solamente el miedo a la sanción sino también una política institucional muy clara: la de reconciliarse con la sociedad.
A.P.: Visto desde los años posteriores, está claro que en la región habían cambiado los modos de resolver los conflictos entre los distintos sectores sociales. Esto se instaló, más que por virtudes propias de las clases gobernantes, por el defecto de haber manejado indiscriminadamente la presión militar para resolver problemas sociales. Las clases altas o los sectores empresarios, que siempre habían apelado a este recurso, empezaron a diseñar un cambio de estrategia, lo que también terminó influyendo en el cambio de perspectiva de los propios militares.


LAS FUERZAS DESPUÉS DE GARRÉ
Es brutalmente honesta la frase de Eduardo Duhalde que abre el capítulo: "Nuestras Fuerzas Armadas existen, pero no sabemos para qué". ¿Se revierte esto a partir del nombramiento de Nilda Garré?
P.C.: Garré es la primera mujer que llega al cargo de ministro de Defensa en toda la historia argentina. Es a partir de su gestión donde se sientan las bases de aquello que los especialistas llaman una agenda de la defensa. Los gobiernos anteriores habían hecho reformas –muchas muy profundas, como cuando Alfonsín modificó su diseño orgánico– pero no había una mirada integral sobre las fuerzas. Y en este sentido, los intentos de "privación" sin el otorgamiento de un rol consistente no hizo más que agravar la situación. Hay que recordar que el gobierno de (Néstor) Kirchner comenzó con la gestión de (José) Pampuro, una persona de confianza de Duhalde, cuyo objetivo fue pilotear los malestares. Durante los primeros años se produjo un descabezamiento de las cúpulas, pero esta política inédita no fue acompañada por una política de defensa. Cuando llega Garré comienza una un proceso de autonomización de la agenda militar como problema de la agenda pública. (Arturo) Puricelli y (Agustín) Rossi han continuado esa línea.

¿Existe en la actualidad un intento de colocar a las Fuerzas Armadas más allá de lo que indica la Ley de Seguridad Interior? Sobre todo con el operativo Escudo Norte o el nuevo rol de Gendarmería.
P.C.: No. Rossi tiene una visión muy consistente acerca de que las Fuerzas Armadas no tienen nada que ver con lo que sucede en el ámbito de la seguridad interior. Hay, sí, una nueva mirada sobre la cuestión de la seguridad a partir de la creación del ministerio, que cristaliza una agenda con problemas. Lo que sí me parece ambiguo es el pase de Garré y Puricelli, que han salido de Defensa y pasado a Seguridad. Eso admite dos lecturas. Una es más promisoria, y es que en el país existen cuadros con capacidad técnica y política para manejar a las fuerzas del orden. Pero la otra sostiene que esta migración de funcionarios marca ciertas continuidades entre las dos áreas. Es precisamente esto lo que estamos viendo en estas semanas. En el futuro se verá si se ha superado esta unión o si todavía encontramos problemas para separar los actores y agendas de ambas áreas.
A.P..: Todavía existe una zona gris de intercambios e influencias, y el mejor ejemplo es el rol ambiguo de Gendarmería y de (Sergio) Berni.

Si uno mira a los ministros de Seguridad federales, de Garré a María Cecilia Rodríguez, da la impresión de que el gobierno tiene una política clara de seguridad. Pero en la práctica la figura de Berni termina siendo más fuerte. No sólo ha sobrevivido el último recambio ministerial sino que a los ojos de muchos es quien dirige el ministerio...
A.P..: Para mí el gobierno produce la salida de Garré para no avanzar demasiado en esa línea. Instalar un mojón pero no profundizar, una característica del kirchnerismo que le puede terminar costando muy caro porque abre un espacio de confrontación y después no construye una plataforma sólida para sostener el conflicto. Berni atenúa el modo en que Garré consideraba la relación entre estas dos fuerzas y la Policía Federal.
P.C.: La figura de Berni es un liderazgo político que se construye sobre su carisma y sus apariciones en los medios. Tiene llaves que abre muchas puertas. El tema es que él habla como lo haría el comandante de una fuerza: "vengo a conducir a mis hombres".
A.P.: Berni es una concepción pre-Garré.

Lo que uno se pregunta es por qué un gobierno que está a quince meses de irse no va más a fondo en determinadas reformas. Al menos para que a su sucesor le cueste más marcha atrás con estos cambios.
A.P.: La respuesta, creo yo, es que el gobierno tiene abierto demasiados frentes. La aparición de los fondos buitre le abre una batalla enorme, que desborda su capacidad política de enfrentar otras cuestiones. De hecho el gobierno presentó la Ley de Abastecimiento al mismo tiempo que la Ley de Pago Soberano. Al gobierno le han robado la capacidad de manejar los tiempos.

Una versión editada de esta entrevista se publicó en la edición impresa de Ámbito Financiero del 19 de septiembre de 2014.

City TV, radio advertising benefits allies

Following the pattern seen with newspapers, Clarín Group is the top recipient

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 07-05-2014

A media outlet from the Mendoza province linked to a former PRO candidate in Mendoza was the third-largest recipient of official advertising from Buenos Aires City in the first half of 2013, according to official figures.

Following up on yesterday’s Herald report on the way the City government has favoured certain media groups with its advertising largesse, a deeper analysis on ads placed on radio, TV stations and websites receiving public advertising by the PRO administration led by City Mayor Mauricio Macri reveal that Radio Mitre and La 100, both owned by media giant Clarín Group, topped the chart after receiving almost 1.5 million pesos during the first half of 2013.

Other popular conglomerates, including the Indalo Group led by casino mogul Cristóbal López and a group of radios owned by businessman Sergio Spolszki — Metro, Rock and Pop, FM Blue and Splendid — also benefited from the City government. The former received 1.27 million pesos in the first half of 2013, while the latter got 1.07 million pesos during the same period.

But the most surprising presence in the ranking was that of Mendoza’s MDZ FM 105.5, which ended up receiving a little over 992,000 pesos for its radio station in addition to 240,000 pesos for its Internet site — a total of 1,232,590 pesos, two and a half times more than the amount received by Los 40 Principales and Continental, the flagship radio stations of the popular Prisa Group.

“Despite the existence of a law regulating official advertising in the City — that included several articles, including the one forbidding the use of partisan colours for official communications, which were vetoed by Macri — there are no clear criteria yet by which public advertising is allocated, and it’s even less clear why some media outlets are excluded from those funds,” media expert Santiago Marino told the Herald.

“You may say that one criterion to allocate public advertising would be to do it in the most popular radios, such as Mitre and FM 100 (owned by the Clarín Group) and the radios belonging to the Indalo Group, such as FM Pop, Mega and Vale,” Marino added.

“What surprises me is that the third company in the list is a radio station and a web site from Mendoza, linked to the Terranova family, which has a member — rally driver Orlando Terranova — who used to be the best-known face of the PRO party in Mendoza.”

MDZ’s Internet site is run by journalist Christian Sanz, who regularly shows ties to intelligence and police sources.

One of the figures who most benefited from the City’s policy regarding ads was radio host Mario Pergolini, whose Radio Vorterix (linked, in turn, to Spolszki) was granted 1.14 million pesos during the first six months of last year, if funds received by its Internet site are also taken into account.

These figures cannot be annualized, as advertising soared during the second half of last year, when the PASO primaries were held.

TV outlets

As the Herald reported yesterday, the Clarín conglomerate was the biggest recipient of funds after receiving 17 percent of the total funds spent by the City in advertising during the first six months of 2013.

Clarín’s flagship broadcast TV station, Channel 13, received 10.57 million pesos if all affiliates throughout the country are taken into account — a little more than Telefe, owned by the Spanish group Telefónica.

The rest of the media outlets are far behind (América TV with 3.63 million pesos and Channel 9 with 2.09 million pesos), but the most shocking figure is the one granted to state-run Channel 7, also known as TV Pública, as it only received 12,000 pesos (some US$ 1,500) during that semester.

Years ago, in a landmark report for NGO Poder Ciudadano, media expert Martín Becerra had revealed the City had placed almost no advertising on Channel 9 and Channel 7, which regularly criticize Macri’s administration, following a pattern set by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, who has long failed to allocate a reasonable amount of resources to Clarín-owned Channel 13 and Todo Noticias (TN).

Cable TV

A review of the available data suggests that much like the trends seen in print media, Buenos Aires City heavily favoured cable TV channels that fall under the control of the Clarín Group. City advertising received by the group’s nine channels more than doubled the second-largest recipient of public funds, with the flagship TN channel receiving 1.23 million of the group’s take of 3.56 million pesos.

The FOX group, a member of the Rupert Murdoch global multimedia conglomerate Newscorp, was the next-largest recipient of City funds, mostly by way of its various sports channels.

The Vila-Manzano group, second-largest in the country, received more than one million pesos in the first six months of 2013 by way of its various regional affiliates concentrated in the Cuyo region.

In March, the Herald published that the Macri administration had more than doubled its advertising budget during 2013, according to a report by the non-profit Argentine Association of Budget and Public Finance Administration (ASAP).

This staggering 110.8 percent yearly hike resulted from comparing the 548.4 million pesos the City government spent in advertising during 2013 to the 260.1 million from the previous year.

That same month, the national government published a report that indicated the Fernández de Kirchner administration had increased official advertising spending by 45 percent in the first six months of 2013, compared to a year earlier.

The report was released following a freedom of information request filed by a number of local NGOs.

Additional reporting by Tomás Brockenshire

Enlace

El Poder del Juego



El Poder del Juego
El gran negocio de la política argentina

Ramón Indart y Federico Poore
Aguilar, 2014, 256 pp.

Disponible en físico y en eBook


A closer look at crime in BA province

Thefts on the rise, but homicide figures can still be compared to those of 2009, says official report

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 27-04-2014


Three weeks after Governor Daniel Scioli declared the state of security emergency in Buenos Aires province, crime crashed back into the news following a number of violent robberies and a report saying that during 2013 murders in the district were up by 8.28 percent compared to a year before.

Crime in BA province has been somehow steady through the years, as last year’s 1,295 homicides were fairly similar to the 1,348 killings that took place in 2009, available figures from the provincial Prosecutor’s Office revealed.

However, lawyer Gustavo Arballo concluded this week that this means Buenos Aires province has a murder rate of 8.4 per 100,000 inhabitants — a figure 52 percent higher than the national average.

Numbers are not steady throughout the province: the province judicial districts of Zárate-Campana, the Greater Buenos Aires areas of Quilmes and La Matanza and the coastal city of Mar del Plata are “hot spots,” with homicide rates of over 10 per 100,000 people.

On the other hand, the judicial districts of Morón (that includes the western districts of Morón, Hurlingham, Ituzaingó and Merlo) and San Isidro (comprising the San Fernando, San Isidro, Pilar, Tigre and Vicente López municipalities) show better results.

Things are not that clear when it comes to measuring robberies: information from the local Prosecutor’s Office (which is subsumed to the Buenos Aires province Supreme Court) is based on Preliminary Criminal Investigations (IPP) — that is, actual reports made by the victims.

During 2013 a total 723,138 IPPs were recorded in the district, with only a fraction being robberies. Statistics also include kidnappings, scams, injuries and other damages.

But many people do not report these events due to their mistrust of the police and the judicial system, Walter Martello, the head of the Civic Coalition (CC) in Buenos Aires province, told the Herald.

According to Martello, only one in four criminal complaints were followed up with an official response — meaning that most cases lead nowhere but to dead ends.

Separating the wheat from the chaff

So what do available statistics reveal about this problem?

— The first is that even though homicides and robberies rose from 2012, last year’s results ended a downward trend in crime rates in the province that had begun in 2010, at least according to official figures.

— The second is that crimes involving underage offenders continue to represent a very small percentage of total crime, dismissing claims by centre-right lawmakers — even within the ruling Victory Front (FpV) — who during last year’s electoral campaign insisted on using this argument to lower the age of criminal responsibility, currently at 16 years.

Less than 14 percent of all murders committed in the province during 2013 were perpetrated by minors, the report published earlier this month said.

— A third conclusion is that most murders are not due to robberies. 36 percent are a result of street fights and other brawls, nine percent are domestic violence-related. Only 22 percent are crime-related (19 percent due to robberies), while causes of death of the remaining 16 percent are still undetermined.

Last november, Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni said murders in Greater Buenos Aires were “relatively low” and quoted figures from 2012 that said that “only” 788 murders were committed in the Greater Buenos Aires area where 9.91 million people live.

Comprehensive solutions

In this context, local political leaders called for a comprehensive approach to fighting crime that goes beyond the anti-crime policy package Scioli had signed by decree earlier this month.

“It has become evident that more cameras, more bulletproof vests and more police forces are not enough,” Martello said.

“I share Martello’s political view on security issues in the province,” Joaquín de la Torre, a Renewal Front lawmaker allied to Sergio Massa, tweeted this week.

Victory Front (FpV) lawmaker Guido Lorenzino, head of the Security Committee in the BA province legislature, did not deny the phenomenon but told the Herald statistics proved their stance on gun control, which included a much-criticized bill by the Scioli administration aimed at restricting the release of potential criminals found with a firearm who tried to elude police.

However, Arballo said current figures are unable to prove whether the bill — which was finally passed into law in June last year — has had any effect at all. Experts and opposition leaders claim the province does not provide enough information to help with comprehensive efforts against violence.

All sectors condemn lynching episodes

Former Security Minister Arslanian blames ‘promotion of fear’ as one of the main causes

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 31-03-2014


According to media reports, at least five people suspected of robbery were lynched by angry mobs last week. One of the alleged burglars was beaten to death in Rosario while the other was repeatedly kicked Saturday in the Buenos Aires City neighbourhood of Palermo, while four others were attacked in Rosario in bloody events that took place over the last few days.

Officials and local politicians condemned the phenomenon and called it a step back to the Middle Ages.

“I think it’s just barbaric. It takes us back to a past that we thought we had forgotten,” former Buenos Aires province Security Minister León Arslanian yesterday told Nacional Rock.

Arslanian, an offical who served during the 2002-2007 Felipe Solá provincial administration, linked the social phenomenon to the political climate of the last months — specifically, to the strategy carried out by Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa to attack the new Penal Code bill draft on the grounds that its amendments were too lenient on criminals.

“It’s a grotesque thing to try and stir up public opinion by promoting fear,” Arslanian told radio programme El Fin de la Metáfora.

Across the political spectrum

Kirchnerite representatives and opposition figures clearly drew a line between the current lack of state oversight and the rise of these kinds of attacks.

“We’re surely witnessing a situation of lack of state presence, but this can by no means justify nor excuse anyone taking justice into their own hands,” Broad Progressive Front (FAP) national lawmaker Fabián Peralta told the Herald.

Peralta, a representative of the centre-left GEN party, lives in the Azcuénaga neighbourhood in Rosario, two blocks away from the corner where a group of people lynched 18-year-old construction worker, David Moreyra, after accusing him of stealing.

Moreyra fought his injuries for four days and died at a local hospital.

“We’re witnessing a domino effect, because people are taking the discussion over whether the people attacked were criminals or not,” Peralta added.

“But the very fact that a group of people decide to apply the death penalty — because that’s what it is — speaks of a true process of social deterioration.”

PRO party ally Patricia Bullrich showed her consternation, but stressed an absence of the rule of law.

“I think (lynchings) are a worrying and dangerous phenomenon, because it proves we’re living in a society with no rules or law,” Bullrich told the Herald.

The Unión por Todos representative said repeated lynchings were a “typical reaction” to people’s feeling of defencelessness.

“We need to get the situation back on track, people should feel safe and protection should not be about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” the national lawmaker said.

Politicians to blame?

Like Arslanian, Kirchnerite City lawmaker Gabriela Cerruti took aim at the heated political climate encouraged by Renewal Front politicians, who during the last week challenged the Penal Code draft bill, which had resulted from a consensus between Supreme Court Justice Raúl Zaffaroni, UCR representative Ricardo Gil Lavedra and PRO lawmaker Federico Pinedo.

According to Cerruti, Massa’s stance against the proposed regulations and his “populist” statements against reduced penalties and other alleged benefits for criminals were “the serpent’s egg” that ended in last week’s public lynchings in Buenos Aires and Rosario.

Lynchings are occurring “at a time when leaders, who should be sending an altruistic message, have placed themselves on the frontline of heavy-handed discourse,” Cerruti wrote on Twitter.

But the events of the last few days are probably part of a broader phenomenon.

Victory Front (FpV) lawmaker Victoria Montenegro said there were “a lot of causes,” with only one of them being “the current political climate.” In the end, however, she limited herself to “openly repudiate all acts of violence.”

“The case of the boy that was beaten to death in Rosario was the result of cowardly and murderous citizens,” Montenegro told the Herald.

“Take justice into their own hands should not be an option and this is the society we’ve been trying to build since the return of democracy,” she concluded.

Revenge and class hatred

On Saturday afternoon, writer Diego Grillo Trubba went on a Twitter rampage to express what had occurred minutes prior in the up-scale Palermo neighbourhood.

An infuriated mob “almost lynched a pickpocket,” the man wrote on his account.

“A big man wearing a security guard’s uniform was on top of a 16- or 17-year-old and would not let him go. Suddenly, one of the people from the mob comes in running and kicked the kid in the face,” Grillo Trubba said.

“Just so that I’m understood: a river of blood was coming out of his mouth. Most of the people keep saying he should be put to death.”

It took 25 minutes for police to arrive at the scene, the writer said.

The Rosario cases also struck a nerve in Santa Fe’s political world.

“People who took part in lynch mob were actually involved in murder,” provincial Justice and Human Rights Minister Juan Lewis warned yesterday.

“It’s a big mistake to resort to the lack of state presence to justify lynching — it was plain and simple murder,” he said.

Judge: La Plata floods killed 89

Magistrate blasts Scioli, Casal for fudging the numbers, concealing death toll

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 27-03-2014


Almost a year after the heavy rains and flash floods that affected the city of La Plata, Judge Luís Arias yesterday determined that 89 people died during the flooding — 38 more than what the Buenos Aires province government had officially informed.

In a 191-page ruling of high political impact, the magistrate ordered the Daniel Scioli administration to “publicly reveal the result” of this new investigation “through the same media outlets the government used to reveal the information in the first place.”

After months of investigation, Arias concluded that several irregularities had taken place in the days after the flood of April 23, 2013 — and that both the local Executive and Judicial branches were to blame.

Irregularities include the signing of false death certificates by officials of the province’s Peoples’ Registry (Registro de las Personas), “which resulted in public documents that did not reflect the true nature of the event, or in showing it in a distorted way” — meaning that the goal of lying about the death certificates was to hide the true scale of the catastrophe.

“Evidence gathered so far in order to recreate the situation took a new dimension considering the context of falsehood, hiding, mistrust, confusion and catastrophe” following the floods in the province’s capital, the magistrate wrote.

The judge ordered both the local Legislature and the Executive Branch to “regulate, adapt and/or modify the proceedings and practices that allowed for such irregularities.”

According to judicial sources, Arias will explain the basis of the ruling to relatives of the victims today at 12.30pm during a press conference to be held at the journalism school at the University of La Plata.

An ‘uncomfortable’ judge

Days after the floods, both Scioli and the then-provincial Security Minister Ricardo Casal confirmed the death toll remained at 51, despite complaints by opposition leaders and victims’ relatives.

On April 6, Scioli dismissed other reports and called on people “not to distort a situation that is already dramatic.” That same day, Casal criticized Arias and Prosecutor Julián Axat for distributing a list with the names of seven other people who allegedly died during the storm.

But Arias did not take back what he said and announced that he would formally request hospitals in the affected areas to submit reports on what happened during the flood — the first step toward yesterday’s ruling.

“What Arias writes in his decision is what we’ve been saying all this time — that there was a deliberate attempt to hide the real numbers,” Civic Coalition (CC-ARI) representative Walter Martello told the Herald.

“The judge is saying that the province refused to add new names to the list of fatalities after the first 48 hours, something unprecedented and unknown in any other part of the world when a tragedy of this scale takes place,” Martello added.

On its face, the ruling coincides with Axat’s previous statements.

In November last year, the prosecutor said that there was strong evidence suggesting that a “spurious concealment method” had taken place with the Scioli administration’s attempt “to falsify the deaths caused by flooding” by making them appear to have been the result of natural causes.

Yesterday, Axat highlighted the magistrate’s decision, which — he said — proved the downside of a “self-governed” Buenos Aires provincial police force.

Local politicians “resort to the BA province police, which in turn engage in the usual tactics to prevent the public image of their bosses from becoming tarnished, at any cost,” the prosecutor wrote.

Court pushes for state transparency

Says government must release information on recipients of social programmes

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 27-03-2014


The Supreme Court yesterday ordered President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administration to publicize information related to its social programmes, following a legal filing made by the Centre for the Implementation of Public Policies for the Equity and Development (CIPPEC), a non-partisan NGO.

The move is yet another take by the highest court on the state’s accountability and responsibility to make information public, and comes after a series of high-impact rulings over the distribution of government advertising in media outlets issued over the last few months.
Specifically, the Supreme Court ordered the national government to reveal the identity of those who benefit from social programmes, where they are located, and the total amount of money they involve.

Near the end of the 48-page ruling the top tribunal said that Congress “urgently needs to pass legislation guaranteeing access to information” and regulating the way public authorities allocate social development programmes.

“The Supreme Court has confirmed that the right to public information is a constitutional right, and that the Legislative Branch is still in debt regarding the implementation of a specific regulation on the matter,” CIPPEC’s chief judicial researcher Martín Bomer told the Herald.

A six-year wait

The case began in 2008, when CIPPEC demanded the Social Development Ministry release the registry of beneficiaries of social programmes for 2006 and 2007, arguing the organization needed to know the identity of those who received the social aid in order to carry out a comprehensive oversight of those programmes.

The ministry refused to provide the requested information by saying that making public such information would collide with the 25,326 Personal Data Protection Law by exposing the “vulnerable condition” of beneficiaries.

But the Supreme Court yesterday said that “the right to maximum disclosure of public information” should prevail over other rights in conflict and that the state was simply choosing to refuse to publicly release the information without a valid argument.

In this context, Justices Ricardo Lorenzetti, Carlos Fayt and Juan Carlos Maqueda said they believed the government is “seeking to exclude certain information from the public domain.” But the harshest words came from Enrique Petracchi and Carmen Argibay, who said that hiding those whom the govenrment was assisting was a “disgraceful” attitude by the government, who was trying to “conceal the diversion of public funds.”

Dismissing official arguments

The Association for Civil Rights (ADC), which co-sponsored CIPPEC’s legal filing, celebrated the ruling’s importance.

“It brings down the repeated argument used to deny access to public information: that the government may refuse to provide such information when it contains ‘sensitive data’,” ADC said in a news release.

ADC’s Access to Information Director Ramiro Álvarez Ugarte said the court’s ruling follows its own jurisprudence regarding the matter that was first expressed in December 2012, while dealing with a case the organization had brought against the PAMI state-run healthcare scheme.

Argentina, Cuba, Haiti and Costa Rica are the only four Latin American countries without a Public Information Access Law, according to Marcela Basterra, a constitutional scholar at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).

In that context, Justices highlighted that the Supreme Court has “repeatedly pointed out” that the right to public information “is a necessary condition for the organization of a democratic republic” and that the Constitution as well as international treaties with constitutional hierarchy consider such a right “an essential tool in helping public opinion to establish whether social policies carried out by the state are effectively helping (those in need) or if they are dysfunctional to the proposed goals.”

Paraphrasing the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the top tribunal concluded that information belongs to the people: “It is not owned by the state, and its access is not a result of grace and favour from the government.”

Enlace

Gov’t advertising increases 45.24%

Uneven distribution seen between TV channels and newspapers, official report reveals

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 18-03-2014

Government advertising soared 45.24 percent in the first half of 2013, compared to the same period of the previous year, as the President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration allocated more cash to official ads at a time when it was getting ready for critical midterm elections, the Chief-of-Staff’s office revealed yesterday.

The report was released following a freedom for information request filed by NGO Poder Ciudadano.

The increase in state spending on official advertising benefited almost all television channels and newspapers, regardless of their ideological views.

From January to June 2013, the national administration allocated 610.45 million pesos in official advertising, compared to 420.29 million pesos during the same period of 2012.
The increase in the national government’s spending on advertising is much higher than the inflation rate, regardless of the way it is measured. Private consultancies estimated last year’s inflation clocked in at 27 percent.

“There have been significant increases in government advertising for opposition media, but those hikes only modify a ridiculously low amount previously,” media expert Martín Becerra said yesterday. “In absolute terms, they are still being ‘punished’ by the government.”

The report was released the same day the Supreme Court ordered the La Plata City government to restore government advertising to a local radio (See below) and a month after the country’s highest court ruled that the Fernández de Kirchner administration should allocate government advertising on Clarín Group’s Channel 13, following a lawsuit by the country’s largest media conglomerate.

An unwilling response

Even though the latest report brought in a flood of data, the government made it difficult for journalists to compare both years, as companies listed in the latest report of government spending on advertising were sorted by their “registration code” rather than in alphabetical order.

Moreover, the report published on the Chief-of-Staff Office’s website yesterday afternoon was in PDF format, which made it difficult to reorder numbers.

As in previous releases, the national administration classified the companies according to the medium — whether the government advertised in cinemas, radio stations, print media, broadcast or cable TV channels, or the street.

Tensions have grown recently between the national government and the Supreme Court over the allocation of government advertising and the lack of clear rules on the matter.

In 2011, the top court ruled in favour of Perfil with the same arguments it had used four years earlier with Río Negro’s most important newspaper in a case against the provincial government of Neuquén.

On that occasion, the tribunal argued that while there is no right to receive a certain amount of government advertising, there is, in fact, protection against using state money arbitrarily.

The Supreme Court is well aware that the government has “cheated” after previous decisions and is repeatedly backing rulings of lower courts ordering the national administration “to prepare and present a distribution scheme for state advertising.”

“Failure to comply with a judicial ruling means a failure to recognize the separation of powers, which leads to a serious deterioration of a constitutional, democratic state,” the justices wrote in a 6-1 decision last February.


Notas relacionadas (Telefé, Channel 9 see biggest increases, La Plata forced to restore ads, Newspapers: gov’t ad revenue up 55%) disponibles en la edición impresa del Buenos Aires Herald.

Macri doubles advertising spending

Macri doubles advertising spending in 2013
City spends 548.4 million pesos in official ads last year, according to report by non-partisan group

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 21-03-2014

Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s administration more than doubled its advertising budget during 2013, according to a report published yesterday by the non-profit Argentine Association of Budget and Public Finance Administration (ASAP).

The staggering 110.8 percent yearly hike results from comparing the 548.4 million pesos the Buenos Aires City government spent in advertising during 2013 to the 260.1 million that was spent the previous year.

Unlike the national administration’s number, though, it is impossible to know which media outlets are being favoured by the City’s spending, as the administration has never disclosed such information, Civic Coalition (CC) lawmaker Rocío Sánchez Andía told the Herald.

The report ASAP released yesterday is based on official data from the City Finance Ministry, and takes into account not what was budgeted, but what was actually spent during the period.

“For the official advertising section we gathered spending from all departments that were centralized through the City’s Communications Secretary,” an ASAP official told the Herald.

Local opposition lawmaker Aníbal Ibarra kept his own record of official advertising spending that does not differ greatly from the figures released yesterday.

A source from the former City mayor’s office yesterday told the Herald that according to his records — also based on official sources — the City spent 534.6 million pesos in official ads in 2013 — way more than the 283.9 million the PRO administration placed a year before.

If these figures turn out to be correct, it would mark an 88.3 percent yearly increase.

Similar attitudes

Last week, the national government published a report that indicated President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration had increased spending in official advertising by 45 percent in the first semester of 2013, compared to a year earlier. The report was released following a freedom for information request filed by several NGOs.

In a marked difference from the City numbers, the federal government does name the companies that received official advertising.

In the City’s case, the only report that has shown some of the beneficiaries from this discretionary public policy was not official, but a 2012 report by NGO Poder Ciudadano written by media expert Martín Becerra.

The document analyzed public spending on certain radio and TV outlets from May to October 2011 and proved that cable news channel C5N as well as anti-Kirchnerite channels Todo Noticias (TN) and Channel 13 were the main recipients of advertising by the City government.

Clarín Group’s Radio Mitre, popular radio broadcasters La Red, Rock & Pop, Pop 101.5 and Metro also aired long minutes of City advertisements.

It is unclear as to whether or not this trend continues.

So this means that there is discretionality behind the City government’s actions?

“As a matter of fact, the logic behind Macri’s actions in this regard is identical to that of Kirchnerism,” media expert Santiago Marino told the Herald. “The PRO administration is also allocating a large amount of discretional funds.”

A key veto

In 2010, Macri vetoed key articles of the Official Advertising Law that had been approved by the City Legislature.

The bill had contemplated inputs from different lawmakers, including recommendations from ruling PRO party representative Diana Martínez Barrios, and was unanimously approved on December 3, 2009.

One of the vetoed clauses forced the City government to refrain from using party colours or other partisan identifications for official communications.

Macri’s veto allowed the City to continue using the yellow PRO party colour in local state-run channel Ciudad Abierta, the bike rental system, the Metrobus buses and even the Bafici independent film festival.

Nevertheless, Marino stressed that even this incomplete local Official Advertising Law allows non-commercial media to receive government ads in a transparent way — a benefit they do not enjoy at the national level.

Last year, the now former PRO lawmaker Paula Bertol told newspaper Página/12 that the lack of a good Official Advertising Law was one of the deficits of the Macri administration.

“I believe the City should pass a law (to regulate government ads). It’s something to improve upon,” Bertol said.

Entrevista a Sebastián Carassai


“Las clases medias no peronistas vivieron el golpe desde un desierto anímico”

Bajo la tutoría del historiador Daniel James, Sebastián Carassai se pasó tres años entrevistando a personas de clase media que habían vivido los setenta lejos de la política y del clima de época imperante. Estos sectores, sostiene Carassai, tuvieron una relación particular con el peronismo, la guerrilla y la violencia de aquellos años que el sociólogo plasmó en "Los años setenta de la gente común (siglo XXI)", un aporte fresco a la profusa bibliografía sobre aquella década. Carassai recibió a Viernes.

por Federico Poore
Ámbito Financiero, 13-12-2013

¿Cómo encontró la publicidad que ilustra la tapa del libro (de la aerolínea Austral, con un texto burdo contra la izquierda que termina con "se nos filtró la zurda")?
Sebastián Carassai: Cuando la encontré no lo podía creer. Estaba en Corsa, una revista de automovilismo que tenía una de las personas que entrevisté en Tucumán. Lo que me llamó la atención es que ahí ya aparecían tres líneas que luego estarían muy presentes en el resto de la década. Una es "zurda", el término despectivo para nombrar el pensamiento de izquierda. Después, esta idea de infiltración que también va a ir cobrando cada vez más importancia en el Gobierno y el movimiento peronista... Y finalmente, la idea de la delación ("avísenos").

¿Qué universo define con la "gente común"?
No hay en la voz autoral un concepto semejante (decir "gente común" trae algunos problemas), pero el lector sabe que excluye a los sectores poderosos, del establishment o a quienes ocupaban cargos importantes en las organizaciones políticas. Trabajo fundamentalmente sobre las clases medias que no eligieron la militancia política como modo de comprometerse durante los años setenta. Es importante destacar que no me refiero a ellos como apolíticos: mi esfuerzo está puesto en mostrar que tenían su propia percepción de la realidad política y de la violencia y que, si bien no fueron actores protagónicos, sufrieron consecuencias de los sucesos políticos y a su vez influyeron en el curso de los acontecimientos.

¿Qué descubrió en su análisis de la relación entre la clase media y el peronismo?
Muchos trabajos han puesto su énfasis en los sectores de la clase media que a partir del 55 empiezan a revisar el antiperonismo del cual provienen. Eso, si bien es cierto que sucedió, a veces tiende a confundirse con lo que le sucedió a todo ese sector. Trato de recuperar la relación que mantuvo con el peronismo, ese sector de las clases medias que no se peronizó. Hay que recordar que en la elección de marzo de 1973, (Héctor) Cámpora gana con casi el 50 por ciento de los votos, pero la otra mitad eligió opciones no peronistas, y dentro de ellos, una mayoría era la clase media. Allí hay elementos fundamentales para entender la época.

¿Por qué?
Para este sector social, la elección del 73 abría la posibilidad de un Gobierno no enteramente peronista. Y en ese sentido, el abrumador triunfo de Cámpora fue un baldazo de agua fría. Después de 18 años, el peronismo seguía más o menos intacto, muy fuerte en casi todas las provincias, y era capaz de triunfar en casi cualquier elección libre. Esto produjo un efecto de resignación. Una parte de estos sectores pensó: "No hay nada que hacer, este país es peronista. Han triunfado y no podemos hacer mucho más que mirar este proceso desde nuestro ámbito doméstico". Este sector social vio todo eso desde un desierto anímico. El golpe del 24 de marzo los encontró en ese estado.

En el libro traza una comparación con el golpe del 55.
El 55 también vino a derrotar a un Gobierno peronista. Sin embargo, en aquel entonces un sector importante de las clases medias salió a las calles a "celebrar" la caída del tirano. Las clases medias antiperonistas se sentían protagonistas de una suerte de resistencia cultural al régimen, que se tradujo en algarabía cuando las fuerzas armadas derrocan a Perón. Nada de eso sucede en el 76. La ausencia de gente celebrando la caída de Isabel tiene que ver con que su actitud anterior no fue la de resistir al Gobierno, sino la de una aceptación resignada.

Para ese entonces, sostiene, ya no existía una diferenciación clara entre la postura democrática a secas y lo que luego vendría.
Las valoraciones civiles -pero también de la sociedad política- con respecto a la democracia y la dictadura no las oponían como lo bueno y lo malo. Sin duda que en el '73 hubo una esperanza en la democracia, pero eso rápidamente fue matizado. Por un lado estaba el cambio institucional (se acaba la dictadura, se abre un proceso político con Lanusse ...), pero por el otro la violencia seguía su propio curso. Por lo tanto, cuando llega la dictadura, estos sectores buscaron la novedad de la situación no tanto en la violencia sino en ese clima de orden que la dictadura supo mostrar.

Otra de las relaciones que revisa y matiza en el libro es la relación de la clase media con la guerrilla. ¿No era tanta la simpatía?
La guerrilla generó una simpatía en sus inicios. Lo que pasa es que se había aceptado que ese nivel de simpatía era realmente altísimo, por un índice que publica Guillermo O'Donnell en "El Estado burocrático-autoritario". Eso me llevó a preguntarme cómo había sido construido ese índice. Hablé con O'Donnell, que vivía en ese momento, y llegué a otros estudios de opinión pública que se habían hecho en esos mismos años con preguntas directas, lo que me llevó a concluir que no había una simpatía tan amplia y que la mayoría opinaba que el Estado debía sancionar fuertemente a estas organizaciones.

Entrevistó a gente en Buenos Aires, Tucumán y un pueblo de Santa Fe llamado Correa. ¿Encontró diferencias en las percepciones de las clases medias en grandes ciudades y pequeñas localidades?
Las diferencias más importantes tienen menos que ver con la zona geográfica que con la generación. Aquellos que eran jóvenes en los setenta tenían un visión mucho más contemplativa sobre la violencia y las organizaciones guerrilleras que sus mayores. La Masacre de Trelew tuvo un impacto muy fuerte en la generación que pertenecía al mismo rango etario de aquellos asesinados. Cuando uno habla con generaciones mayores, en cambio, no recuerdan haber derramado muchas lágrimas por ellos.

Uno de los temas que analiza como colchón ideológico del día a día en los setenta son las publicidades. En ese sentido, llama mucho la atención la obsesión con las armas.
Es un tema fundamental que también va a ir in crescendo. A partir de 1969, se naturaliza la utilización de la violencia como vehículo eficaz para seducir consumidores. Inmediatamente pensé que podía ser algo de época, entonces investigué qué pasaba en otras latitudes en revistas análogas, como Paris Match, Der Spiegel, Newsweek, Life. Y si bien hay muchísimas fotografías de hechos de violencia, son fotos de la realidad.

Acá se llegó a publicitar el juguete "Guerrillero", o productos de Billiken con armas.
El hecho de que hayan llegado al ámbito de la publicidad, y de una manera tan coloquial y frívola, muestra que los mecanismos que habitualmente tiene la sociedad para inhibir la pulsión de muerte estaban resquebrajados, horadados.

¿Cuándo hizo las entrevistas?
Entre 2007 y 2009.

El clima de época, ¿no afectó los recuerdos de estas personas sobre aquel momento?
El presente siempre se filtra en los juicios que tenemos sobre el pasado. Es algo con lo que los historiadores orales tenemos que lidiar. Lo primero que hice fue investigar, en paralelo, los documentos y el archivo. Lo otro fue un experimento: hice un documental sobre el período 1969-1982 sin un relato en off y con fragmentos de películas de la época, publicidades...

¿Los entrevistados te hablaron más de política o sobre detalles de la vida cotidiana?
Cuando empecé la investigación no había decidido concentrarme únicamente en la violencia política. Creí que iban a ser dos capítulos de un libro mucho más amplio sobre los valores cívicos, la idea de democracia... Hay muchísimo material que no. Ahora bien, si uno quiere entender los setenta, no puede ser solamente mi libro. Tiene que leer "La voluntad", de (Martín) Caparrós y (Eduardo) Anguita. Alguien una vez me dijo que estaba haciendo "un libro sobre la no-voluntad". Pero no: no hice un libro sobre la no-voluntad sino sobre la voluntad de hacer otra cosa. Tengo muchas ganas de hacer un segundo volumen. Hace falta complementar esta investigación con otro trabajo que responda a la pregunta: ¿Y entonces, en qué se le iba la vida a esta gente?



BIOGRAFÍA
Bell Ville (Córdoba), 1972
Estudios: Doctorado en Historia, Indiana University
Trabajo: docente en UBA, investigador del Conicet
Rutina Informativa: La Nación, Página/12, Perfil, The New York Times, The Washington Post y El País (España)
Libro preferido: Epistolario, de Baruch Spinoza

Entrevista a Emilio Balcarce

Emilio Balcarce, editor of the crime section at Crónica newspaper
‘Being a best-selling newspaper does not make you part of the popular press’

by Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 09-03-2014

Emilio Balcarce quickly apologizes for arriving late for the interview at Bar Suárez in downtown Buenos Aires. He asks for a Coke and explains: “Journalism is how I earn a living, but comics are my passion.” Balcarce has written more than 300 scripts for comic books, and has been the editor of the crime section at the tabloid Crónica for more than 15 years. In this Herald interview, he discusses recent changes in his line of work and the ethical limits of his profession.

How do you learn about events?
The phone, reporters covering a story and people who call the newsroom are our traditional sources. The courts are our main reliable sources. In contrast, police precincts aren’t great sources because they often have links to mayors or to some of those who are involved (in the crimes). Obviously, the information explosion of the Internet is incredible. I’m from the Remington era, from the era of typewriters, and I find the current situation to be an amazing evolution. Crime reporters now normally use Facebook to gather information about people involved in a crime, pictures that maybe the family does not want to share...

How big is the crime section?
We’re short-staffed. We used to have more people (in the section), but the team has been reduced. Some reporters work for our section but also for other areas. We used to have our own reporters. (Pauses) Times are changing, in every sense.

How long have you been at the newspaper?
I’ve been part of Editorial Sarmiento (publisher of Crónica and Democracia newspapers) for 28 years now. The first 10 years I was part of the crime news magazine Esto. When the magazine closed, I started working at Crónica, and since the year 2000 I’ve been head of the crime section.

How has your work changed throughout the years?
In the past, we relied a lot on wire agencies. Now it’s a different thing. The newspaper mobilizes its own network of reporters in the most important cases but not in all cases. For example, if something happens in the (Buenos Aires province district of) Luján, you can turn to local media websites. Things like that were unavailable in the past. We’re also more connected to other provinces. We used to depend on wire services, on our chances of picking up the phone and calling, or on whoever we planned to send there for important cases, such as the Nora Dalmasso murder. Now it isn’t that necessary.

What criteria do you use to interpret or filter sources of information? One might think that some sources are more reliable than others, especially in this line of work.
Each city has its own media and we know how accurate they are at reporting the news. For instance, La Capital newspaper in Rosario has excellent journalists and a broad coverage of what goes on in the city. I can’t say the same thing about other Santa Fe province newspapers. The same happens with Mendoza’s Los Andes or with Cadena 3 in Córdoba... We usually rely on newspapers that do the best crime coverage. That is, obviously, in the cases in which we’re unable to send a special correspondent to cover the story.

Has your work changed with the consolidation of cable news TV stations?
Well, Crónica has its own news channel (Crónica TV) and then there’s C5N, TN... They’re other news outlets, although they need to be fact-checked, too.

Do you feel a pressure to write better stories for the print edition? How do you add value to an event that happened 24 hours earlier?
We arrive at the scene to try and gather some exclusive information. We save our scoops until the following day. And then we try to develop the story. If a businessman was killed, we’ll try to find his relatives, we investigate his relationship with the people he knew personally, we try to find out why he was killed...

The main difference between Crónica’s front pages in the 90s and those in 2014 is that there’s less graphic violence and more entertainment now. Do you agree with that change?
This change had to do with the fact that the owner used to be Héctor Ricardo García (founder of Crónica in 1963) and that the newspaper has been changing hands. Now the newspaper is aimed at a more general audience, and is becoming more connected to the Internet. These days people won’t read anything that’s not on a screen, especially the younger generations and I believe that’s the future of newspapers: to end up in a tablet.

What difference do you notice between Crónica and Diario Popular, your main competitor?
As Crónica is trying to broaden its appeal, Diario Popular keeps targeting the same audience. We lost most of those readers during times of conflict: our newspaper would not come out for five days, and you simply cannot give away such an advantage to competitors. Now we’re struggling to get that audience back.

What is your opinion of the Muy and Libre tabloids created by Clarín and Perfil?
I don’t believe they are competition. I think they’re trying to copy other products, making a hotchpotch of it. They lack our experience. Being a best-selling newspaper does not make you part of the popular press.

Journalist Diego Rottman said they were ‘the popular press of Palermo.
Exactly. I think he’s right. They are copying a certain style and they are not that good at it.

What stories do audiences find most appealing?
In 28 years of journalism I haven’t seen anything like the Ángeles (Rawson) case. As a case it has yet to be matched. There have been few other times when the media managed to influence the judges’ decisions, bad police work, mistakes by the prosecutor. The superintendent (accused of murdering the 16-year-old girl) was arrested and there are still a lot of people who believe he’s innocent, despite all the evidence against him.

Why do you believe this was such a special case?
She was a middle-class girl. An excellent student, a big fan of Japanese anime... Then there’s the factor of the superintendent living in the same building, this whole metaphor of “sleeping with the enemy”.

Don’t you believe journalism should also be held responsible for exceeding certain limits?
The media is full of pundits who make unsubstantiated accusations and this case is not an exception even though I’m a part of this media system, too. They were revealing the most intimate secrets of a teenager and I’ve heard (TV host Samuel) “Chiche” Gelblung talking nonsense about Ángeles’ half-brother...

What are your limits?
Cases involving underage children. The case of Jazmín de Grazia (in which Crónica published a controversial front page with photographs of the 27-year-old model the moment she was found dead in her apartment) was a decision by the newspaper’s executives, they believe these types of photos sell well. Something similar happened at Esto magazine when it published the complete autopsy of Alicia Muñiz, (boxer Carlos) Monzón’s girlfriend. I was on holidays and was so embarrassed to hear about what the magazine had published. I have my limits, but I work at a newspaper and sometimes you have to obey orders from the company’s executives.

What is the most strange thing you’ve witnessed in these 28 years?
We worked with forensic photographers. Once, one of them brought me the picture of a dead guy with a knife stuck to his forehead — one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen in my life. The photographer then told us that the knife was actually on the floor and that he had stuck the knife in the victim’s forehead just for the picture. You see those boundaries I was telling you I would never cross? Well, this photographer crossed them.


BIO
Born: June 5, 1956
Studies: ‘At Lincoln School. Then I studied advertising design’
Reads: ‘All news portals, beginning with Infobae and Online 911’
Favourite book: 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke