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News > Latin America

Argentina: Legislators Demand Macri's Security Reforms Go Through Congress

  • President Macri announced reforms to the armed forces Monday.

    President Macri announced reforms to the armed forces Monday. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 July 2018

According to legislators the reform that would allow Argentina's Armed Forces to participate in internal security requires Congressional approval. 

Opposition legislators in Argentina are demanding that President Mauricio Macri’s reforms on the role of the armed forces play in internal security be reviewed by Congress. Macri has argued the change is necessary to combat drug trafficking and terrorist threats.

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Legislators argue that the reform must pass through Congress to be valid.

According to Agustin Rossi, legislator for the Front for Victory, “involving the armed forces in internal security requires the modification of three pyramidal laws of Argentine democracy: defense, internal security, and intelligence. Without that, it would be illegal.”

Constitutionalist lawyer Eduardo Barcesat agrees. “Article 75, which defines Congress’ powers establishes Congress must dictate the norms of the Armed Forces in times of war and in times of peace… the Executive doesn’t have the power to extend or modify the role of the armed forces,” Barcesat explained in a radio interview.

The lawyer also argued the decree would “mean putting the armed forces under the hypothesis of the internal enemy, which would be the Argentine people… Today there is popular indignation because of austerity measures.”

Human rights groups have also rejected the presidential announcement calling it a “threat” to democracy and linking them to the austerity measures applied by Macri’s government.

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Carlos Pisoni, a member of Hijos, an organization made up the children and grandchildren stolen by Argentina’s military dictatorship (1966 - 1983), said “it’s a decision that takes us back to the times of the dictatorship because it was the last time that the armed forces intervened in internal security; thus, it is terrible news.”

The executive decree would repeal a 2006 order signed by former president Nestor Kirchner, which defines “external aggression” as the aggression of another state. According to Macri the threat of terrorism does not come from countries, and the armed forces should be able to respond.

Macri’s reference to terrorism sparked concerns over his government's intention to intensify the violent crackdown on Mapuche activists who continue the struggle for their ancestral lands. According to the Argentine government, there is a terrorist Mapuche group, the so-called Ancestral Mapuche Resistance (RAM), which operates in the Chile and Argentina.

This has been denied by experts on Indigenous matters and Mapuches themselves, who argue the invention of this group has been used to criminalize Mapuche communities and justify the murder of Mapuches by state security forces.  

The Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS for its Spanish acronym) has warned of the importance of maintaining a strict division between defense and security to protect the right to protest.  

The government expects Macri to sign the two decrees before Thursday.

Human rights groups have organized protests for that same day.  

Human rights groups have organized protests for that same day.  

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