Vice-presidential candidate for Juntos por el Cambio says that "the problem in Argentina is not the caste but corrupt politicians" in an interview.
The Mendoza politician details the opposition coalition's proposals on security and explains why he thinks the ruling coalition's presidential candidate, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, won't make it to the run-off.
What scenario do you envisage for October?
I imagine that we will substantially improve on our results in the PASO [primaries]. Firstly because the party is united. Secondly because we have teams and a territorial presence throughout the country. We have proposals and we are making them known. We went to Rosario to present the security [proposals], in Córdoba our economic proposals with Melconian and all his team. And we have Patricia's leadership, which has been legitimised since August 13. I would like to win in the first round, but I see a scenario in which we compete against Milei in the run-off.
Massa won't be able to make it to the second round?
I don't see how the ruling party can make it to the second round when the candidate is the economy minister and he has aggravated everything: an economy on fire, a 'plan platita' that will generate more inflation. We experienced this in 2021 and they are repeating the recipe. We know that this temporary 'trencito de la alegría' ["train of joy"] is a headache for the coming months. The government is liquefying salaries and pensions: this is the real adjustment. And I don't see how the person responsible for this austerity can make it to the run-off.
Has Juntos por el Cambio lost the idea of "change" to Milei?
We both represent change. But we are the political force that stopped the most brazen Kirchnerism. If it weren't for JxC, Kirchnerism would have co-opted the Judiciary, removed the [Supreme] Court, closed schools during [the Covid-19] pandemic, and Kirchnerite corruption would not have been revealed. We are the force capable of putting an end to Kirchnerism. This is a key concept: had it not been for JxC, Argentina would already be Venezuela, or at least in Formosa [Province], in institutional terms. Our main legacy was preventing the advance of Kirchnerism degrading our institutions and avoiding populism. We have the strength to put an end to Kirchnerism, added to the strength [we have] in the [legislative] chambers.
Do you disagree with Milei's accusation that the Unión Cívica Radical and a sector of Juntos por el Cambio are "soft doves"?
Yes, we confronted Kirchnerism and denounced them for corruption. I don't hear the leaders of La Libertad Avanza talking about corruption. They dodge the issue, they don't talk about it. And it is one of the country's main problems. Argentina's problem is not the caste but corrupt politicians.
Do you think the votes [Horacio Rodríguez] Larreta got could go to other forces?
[Rodríguez] Larreta's voters are republican voters, who share the values of JxC, those voters are going to stay in the party.
What role should Mauricio Macri play in the campaign?
Whatever role he wants to play. We shouldn't make demands of him. He is an advisor, a person to consult. We have to let him position himself where he wants to collaborate in the campaign. Centrality was defined on August 13 with Patricia's leadership.
What proposals is JxC preparing in terms of security?
We want to restore people's peace of mind with a policy that does not abandon the victims. We have to eradicate the abolitionism that has permeated the heads of many judges and prosecutors who act benevolently towards crime, and we have to empower the security forces so that they are not afraid to act. Penalties must be stiffened because they are low for many crimes, particularly drug-trafficking, with a new regime of 14 years of age as the age of criminal responsibility. It is also necessary to expel all foreigners who commit crimes once they have served their sentence in an express procedure similar to that of flagrante delicto [caught in the very act of committing the offence] trials. And we must put an end to the revolving door. In addition, since 2017, those who commit violent crimes have to serve their entire sentence in prison. On the other hand, we have to enforce a law that requires the use of signal inhibitors for the use of mobile phones in prisons. It has been enforced in Mendoza and has been mandatory since 2017.
Do you think Milei should be criticised or does that mean continuing to talk about him?
I have a very clear position: in all unfeasible or unconstitutional proposals we have to take a stand because most of the proposals he makes, from dollarisation to the elimination of the Central Bank, are unfeasible or unconstitutional. Even [Supreme Court Justice Horacio] Rosatti has said that dollarisation is unworkable because of the Constitution itself. All the issues on which we disagree with Milei have to be strongly marked, such as the sale of organs or the contamination of rivers by businessmen.
What future do you see for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner?
I imagine that she will have to continue to be held accountable to the courts as she has done up to now. There are many cases pending before the courts, awaiting confirmation of a conviction.