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April 23, 2014
Monday, December 9, 2013

Police crisis spreads to BA province

Security Secretary Sergio Berni boards a helicopter to survey security operations in Rosario.

Neuquén forces lift protests as Security Minister says issue is a ‘wage problem’

Tension eased during the weekend in several provinces following last week’s protests by provincial police officers throughout the country, although problems remain unsolved in some districts where key meetings are to be held today.

Yesterday afternoon, police officers from La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province, staged a protest with their relatives demanding a wage hike.

At press time, 40 officers from the mounted police unit were holding a protest in the Mar del Plata neighbourhood of Parque Camet. They were led by far-right figurehead Gustavo Pampillón.

In the southern province of Neuquén, a preliminary deal was reached between Governor Jorge Sapag and security forces who demanded a salary of 10,000 pesos a month.

“An agreement was reached early in the morning, so I want to thank the governor for helping us end the conflict in a peaceful manner,” Claudio Aroca, spokesman for the protesting officers, told news channel Todo Noticias (TN).

“The conflict is 89 percent resolved,” Aroca added. “When we have all the papers in our hands, we will have it 100 percent resolved.”

Policemen will effectively earn a net wage of 10,000 pesos a month as of December 1.

Problems in Rosario

But protests continue in the provincial capital of Santa Fe and Rosario, where groups of retired policemen — grouped under the Apropol organization at odds with the Antonio Bonfatti administration — continue to stage a protest in front of the police regional unit headquarters.

Lootings and robberies were reported yesterday in several stores.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of people robbed the El Túnel supermarket of Rosario, where they stole five motorcycles. At midnight, 40 people — men and women armed with weapons — looted a clothing store, according to newspaper La Nación.

It was precisely on Saturday when the national government decided to deploy 2,000 Border Guards and 250 Coast Guard officers in Santa Fe, following a request by Bonfatti.

The measure aimed at strengthening security forces while the police protests in order to avoid lootings.

Yesterday, Bonfatti and Security Secretary Sergio Berni flew over Rosario on helicopter to supervise prevention tasks. According to local leaders, the situation was “normal.”

“We’re waiting for the (provincial) police to resume their work,” Berni told state-run news agency Télam.

Rosario Mayor Mónica Fein highlighted the presence of federal security forces in the city and thanked the “quick reaction by the national government” to Santa Fe’s demand to guarantee the safety of its citizens.

“We have coordinated the presence of national forces and the city has been quiet, there have been no problems,” she told radio programme El Fin de la Metáfora.

Problems in the provinces were reported while Buenos Aires province Security Minister Alejandro Granados announced wage hikes for local security forces — including overtime increases of 71 percent.

‘A wage problem’

Newly appointed National Security Minister María Cecilia Rodríguez said the conflict was salary-related.

“This is clearly a wage problem triggered by a negotiation in Córdoba that repeated itself in other provinces,” Rodríguez told newspaper Página/12.

The official said the national administration led by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner favoured “prioritizing police work, especially that carried out by provincial forces” — but stressed that the main idea of her department was to have political control over security forces.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis expressed his concern over the Córdoba lootings during a telephone conversation with the province’s archbishop.

Archbishop Carlos Núñez revealed the Pope called him on Saturday morning to learn about the situation in Córdoba.

Herald with DyN, Télam

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