This is an interview Fer taped at his job with the Public National Radio of Argentina, back in December 2009.
British-born Cox ran the Buenos Aires Herald daily for several years, including the Junta regime period, when it was the only newspaper in the country that actually inform on what was going on. His insight on Argentina is unique and enlightening. And he’s a great story-teller.
Excerpts of this chat, were used on BA Cast’s Proceso-Dirty War Documentary that you can find on our website. Now we bring you the full conversation. Hope you enjoy it.
Presidente de Mesa/Autoridad de Mesa: Ballot Captain. He/she is accompanied by 1 or 2 suplentes, who are basically assistants and back-up.
Doubts about a person’s identity: It is mentioned it can be an issue, during the electoral process. This comes from the times when it was very easy to forge someone’s identity, and then you would have people voting several times. The Presidente de Mesa is responsible for preventing this from happening, and that’s why checking people’s voting documents is key, have a look at the photograph, check the data matches the electoral lists, etc. If there are doubts, the Ballot Captain can send the vote of the person in doubt to the electoral Court for them to decide if it’s valid.
To preserve order, the non-military Federal Security Forces, are at the disposal of ballot captains (in case someone gets violent about a decision made by the captains, if they come carrying propaganda)
Those forces are…
The Policia Federal: Federal Police, that investigate federal crimes, protect Federal buildings, etcetera. They don’t patrol streets or chase petty crime, except in Buenos Aires City, as this city was a Federal District (the mayor was appointed by the President) until 1994. The autonomy law of the city envisions the creation of a BA City-specific police force, and the brand-new Beta-mode Metropolitana created by incumbent Mayor Mauricio Macri would be that force. But they don’t have yet the muscle, nor the budget to really protect the city, so the Federal Police is still the true acting force in the Argentine capital.
Prefectura: The Coast Guards. Aside, from patrolling rivers, lakes, and the seaboard, they play the Police role in Port areas, such as Puerto Madero in BA.
Gendarmeria: the Border Patrol.
Fiscales: As mentioned on Episode 5, they are overseers of the electoral process sent from the political parties.
Ripped-off boletas: There are very complicated rules for considering valid or invalid a vote if the ticket is not in one piece. For example, if the candidates names’ part is missing the vote is valid, as long as the party’s name and the category part (President, Senator, etc) are complete. It is invalid in the opposite case.
500 kilometers rule: Adrian mentions that people travel 500 kilometers to avoid voting, and that’s because you’re excused from voting if you can prove you’re 500 kilometers or more away from the place you’re supposed to be voting (which is determined by the address on your document, not the actual one where you live). You prove the distance by getting a certificate at the local Police station.
The song speaks about:
Alfonsin, Raúl Ricardo: President of Argentina (1983-1989), mainly remembered for campaigning on Human Rights during the last period of the Military Dictatorship.
Junta: The Military Government that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983. BTW, have you listened to our specials on the Junta years in Argentina? http://bacast.com/proceso-dirty-war-35th-anniversary-special-part-1/
Kirchner and Macri: Adrian says mentions the incumbent Federal administration, headed by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who succeeded her late husband, former president Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007). Macri is Mauricio Macri, the incumbent mayor of Buenos Aires, who recently got re-elected for another 4-year term to end in 2015. He was a presidential candidate until he dropped out of the race earlier this year. Allegedly, his advisor told him he had no chance of beating President Cristina, so it was better to protect his stronghold of Buenos Aires City, and wait four more years.