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News > Latin America

'Political Violence Unethical': Argentinian Culture Minister

  • "The flirtation with political violence is directly criminal, it is unethical, it is authoritarian," Avelluto said. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 December 2017

"In the more than 30 years of democracy... we had not seen the scenes we saw yesterday, not even in 2001," Cultural Minister Pablo Avelluto said.

It is politically irresponsible to "flirt with violence," Cultural Minister Pablo Avelluto has said as Argentines embark on more pension-reform protests which have ignited police retaliation and caused numerous injuries.

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"Those who were behind the fences yesterday are not the dictator's security forces; they are the forces of democracy that are there looking after the institutions, and there is no justification for allowing Argentina to justify violent action in politics," the minister said during a televised interview with News Therapy.

"A country like ours, with the history we have, the flirtation with political violence is directly criminal, it is unethical, it is authoritarian," Avelluto said of the riots in which 60 protesters have so far been arrested and more than 160 injured.

"In the more than 30 years of democracy, except for the episode of Everything for the Homeland in 1989, we had not seen the scenes we saw yesterday, not even in 2001."

Argentina has received severe criticism from its southern neighbors in Venezuela, who have condemned police repression and acts of violence deployed by government agencies earlier this week.

Delcy Rodriguez, president of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, posted on Twitter: "And Mercosur, the OAS (Organization of American States), U.S. and the E.U. (European Union) will have something to say in the face of grave violation of human rights ordered."

Adan Chavez, vice president of the International Affairs of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), also denounced the violent repression Monday, offering his support to Argentinian victims of a "neoliberal attack."

The government is attempting to undermine their human rights and eliminate social privileges in a struggle to supersede the changes which have shaken Latin America over recent years.

"This is the government of Macri: repression and mass violation of human rights, neoliberal setbacks, a government of oligarchies behind the backs of the people," Rodriguez Tweeted.

"This is not Syria or South Africa, but it is a country with hunger and war. Pasadas , Misiones, Argentina."

Last week a photo taken by a journalist of a young Argentine girl drinking from a puddle set activists aflame with calls for social reforms and government action to protect its rural communities.

"While the country catches fire, this Guarani girl is hydrated from the ground, something we are doing badly as a society, right?" said Misiones Online journalist and photographer Miguel Rios, who captured the moment on December 13 when temperatures soared in Pasadas.

The image perfectly captured the current state of the country, where political programs such as the nation’s pension reforms threaten severe consequences.

More than 6,000 Mbya Guarani Indigenous people reside in at least 200 villages across the nation, surviving on the sale of handmade goods and with limited regional support.

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"The best way to protest is this, since those who should take care of them are only interested in stealing," Rios said. "Let's stop covering the sun with our hands and for once let them they take charge or, if not, let's go out and protest."

Amid violent protests against pension reforms, Argentina's Chamber of Deputies passed a new tax reform at 1am Wednesday. The legislative proposal sent by the Executive received 146 yes votes, 77 no votes and 18 abstentions. Next week, the reform will be sanctioned by Senatorial commission.

Axel Kicillof, opposition legislator and former economy minister, criticized the bill because "it eliminates taxes for the rich and transfers it to the poor," in allusion to the reduction in employers' social security contributions and the elimination of contributions for workers with a maximum salary of US$670. According to Kicillof, the reform is part of a "neoliberal package" along with the pension and labor reforms.

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