BA mayoral debate recap: sparks fly over Tasers, protest movements and police violence

Leading candidates Jorge Macri, Leandro Santoro, Ramiro Marra, and others squared off on a variety of social issues Wednesday night

The race for Buenos Aires mayor is heating up.

On Wednesday, Buenos Aires City mayoral candidates Jorge Macri (Juntos por el Cambio, JxC) and Ramiro Marra (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) promised to end picket lines in a televised debate. Leandro Santoro (Unión por la Patria, UxP) and Vanina Biasi (Frente de Izquierda, FIT) on the other hand, focused on police violence. Elections will be held on October 22.

“It is crucial to end the logic of picket lines, roadblocks, and minor groups that violently and arrogantly impose an inappropriate agenda,” said Macri.

During August’s primary elections, JxC received over 55% of the vote, split between Macri and the runner-up, Martín Lousteau. Santoro finished second overall (22%), followed by Marra (13%) and Biasi (3.6%).

Macri, the former mayor of Vicente López, said he would be “relentless against roadblocks” and work towards guaranteeing free circulation on the streets if he wins. 

“It is not true that protesting has to mean stopping someone from studying, working, or moving freely,” he said, pledging to investigate social movements whose members brought their children to these protests.

Marra, the mayoral candidate for libertarian economist Javier Milei’s coalition, squared off with Biasi, accusing her of blocking roads in her role as a leader of the left-wing social movement Polo Obrero. These groups are often referred to as piqueteros — a word that literally translates to “picketeers” — for their road-blocking strategies.

“What they do is wrong,” he said, before speaking directly to Biasi. “With [our government], they will have no place, they will be arrested immediately for blocking the streets. Do you like committing crimes?” 

Biasi snapped that Marra’s “goofy facade” hides a “reactionary” agenda. The FIT candidate said that both he and Macri “mess with the poor and blame them for doing outrageous things, when really they are the ones doing illegal things.”

Last week, the National Securities Commission (CNV, by its Spanish acronym) issued two fines of AR$2 million and AR$1 million to Marra and his family’s company, Bull Market Brokers, after finding that Marra recommended buying shares of a construction company in 2020 on social media without the CNV’s authorization. Marra, a city legislator, has a YouTube channel where he offers financial advice. 

Santoro and Biasi also criticized the administration of current mayor and one-time presidential hopeful Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (JxC), pointing out that Chief of Police Gabriel Oscar Berard has been accused of concealing the murder of 17-year-old football player Lucas González. Police officers shot and killed González in a car with his friends in the Barracas neighborhood in 2021. Three officers were sentenced to life in prison, and six were convicted for concealment.

Both candidates called the murder and subsequent cover-up “racism-based.”

“I am scared of Marra’s vice mayoral candidate [Eduardo Martino],” Biasi added. “We are talking about a person who was removed from the Metropolitan Police [now called City Police] and the Federal Police, who worked under the dictatorship’s government and the Triple A.” 

The Triple A was a paramilitary task force that persecuted and killed left-wing activists between 1973 and 1976, before the dictatorship.

“This is not the model we want for the city,” she continued. “We want the police’s registers to be public, to know the link between police and crime.”


All of the candidates, with the exception of Biasi, spoke in favor of police using Tasers, which is currently permitted in Buenos Aires but restricted in the rest of the country. The subject has provoked intense debate in Argentine society as to whether the weapons constitute a form of torture and can be used for lethal ends.

“I defend Tasers because I think they are another tool that any police force in the word can have,” said Santoro, before clarifying that police academies must instruct officers when and how to use them. “No one should be torturing people with any device.”

Macri said that Tasers allow officers to arrest criminals without putting civilians in danger. For her part, Biasi pointed out that the weapon can be fatal and that “the UN considers them to be a torture device.” 

“I don’t know what the issue here is,” Marra said, arguing that police should be allowed to use Tasers. “Not only that, I am in favor of them using other non-lethal weapons because we need to provide police with equipment, training, and freedom of action, not just better salaries.”

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