Photo Credit: Infobae
This is a guest post by Lowell George, a Senior at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Natural Resources. She has a minor in Spanish and spent last Spring studying abroad in Seville, Spain
Argentina has one of the lowest homicide rates in Latin America, but in the last few weeks over ten people have been lynched across the country. According to reports, the victims are thieves and those responsible for the lynching are their own neighbors. These lynchings have caught the attention of the national government, although officials haven’t publicly mentioned the crimes.
In response to the recent increase in murders, the national government has taken steps to secure one of the most affected areas, the province of Buenos Aires. A state of emergency for public safety has been decreed, 5,000 police officers have been reincorporated, and the government has purchased additional cars, bulletproof vests, and guns. Moreover, “40,000 private security guards will be obligated to warn the police about risky situations,…to form a finance intelligence unit against drug trafficking, and will bring up a debate about the youth penal code.”
Although some citizens think that these measures come too late, they show that the government, and specifically the governor of Buenos Aires, Daniel Scioli, has recognized the insecurity problem of the province. Many believe the government’s lack of authority is responsible for the lynching and provocation by the media. According to Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the media is “generating a collective panic: they say that the judicial system isn’t doing anything, so [the public] takes matters into their own hands, without thinking of the consequences.” Although some people believe that the government should take a more active and authoritative role, many citizens think that this view does not justify the acts of violence or the idea of imposing justice at the household level.
While there is disorder among the Argentinian population, there is also disagreement within the government. The debate is focused on the source of the violence. Judges are too tolerant of criminals yet, the judges claim that more legislation is needed. Nevertheless, everyone agrees with President Cristina Fernández, who is trying to stop the violence, the desire for revenge, and the feelings of panic. The president has made statements condemning the violence in all of the radio and television channels, suggesting that “what generates violence, always, always, always breeds more violence, violence is circular.”
Recently, Scioli stated that there is not a simple solution for the violence and the insecurity in Buenos Aires. The measures taken through the state of emergency were a reaction to the violence, but not a panacea. In order to remedy the insecurity in Buenos Aires, drastic changes are needed with respect to the government and the justice system.