argentina

Argentina flagPopulation. 42,610,981

Land. 1,073,518 square miles (2,780,400 square kilometers)

Per capita income. $11,582

President. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Cristina_Fernández

 

Argentina’s Asociación por los Derechos Civiles, a civil liberties NGO based on Avenida Cordoba in Buenos Aires is one of several groups fighting to get a government transparency law on the books in Argentina

Ramiro Álvares Ugarte, director of acceso a la información at ADC, is one of many lawyers fighting to change the lack of transparency in President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration.

“You want to access public contracts, and you can’t, you want to access the names of federal employees and you can’t, you want to access information on how much they get paid and you can’t,” Ugarte said.

“There are ways of doing it but no mechanism in place to enforce them.”

In both 2003 and 2011, a transparency bills were brought before the Argentine Congress and failed. Ugarte now believes that the hope of a comprehensive anti-corruption law remains distant.

RamiroUgarte

Ugarte, who lobbied for a freedom of information law in 2011, said the bill failed because Argentina President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner and her Frente para la Victoria or FPV party did not support it.

It is a paradox, he said. Fernandez, is a neo-populist – which is considered extremely liberal – but she has such illiberal policies, such as not supporting transparency in her administration.

Although there is no law in the books, journalists have gotten into the habit of simply suing the Argentine government in order to get the information they need – a process that is time consuming and cost prohibitive for most people. But  in many cases it is also successful, Ugarte said.

ADC helped defend journalists in a lawsuit that forced Presidents Fernandez to divulge her salary, which was curiously low.

“If you have to go to court to access information than the freedom of information is not really a right,” Ugarte said. “That’s not enough.”

A 2003 presidential decree – during Christina Kirchner’s husband Nestor Kirchner presidency – granted some rights to citizens to request information. However with the decree – which is not a law – it is easy for the government to deny a request on spurious grounds, Ugarte said.

Ugarte said, the biggest challenge is that no government agency or authority takes responsibility for processing the requests, such as the the Comisión defensor Ciudana y Trasparencia in Chile, which has the authority to force other government agency’s to cough up information.

“If you don’t have anybody in charge of it, in a country as large as Argentina, nothing is going to happen,” Ugarte said.

Check out what the newstramp has covered so far in Argentina:

BLACKmarket

Not adjusted for inflation; Argentina’s black market currency

Newstramp exchanges his U.S. dollars on the black market and explores the disfunction of the Argentine economy, which is based on a false currency rate value – government officials claim the Argentine peso is worth twice of what it is on the street.

Argentina transparency

A culture of secrecy: Argentina’s history of corruption remains unchecked

Argentina, thought of as one of Latin America’s most sophisticated societies, does not have a freedom of information law. Newstramp talks with Argentina’s Asociación por los Derechos Civiles, a Buenos Aires-based civil liberties NGO about the fight for information.

GauchoAR2

 Peregrinación político: A trip into Bolivia’s social revolution

Salta, the last stop in Argentina before heading over the border into Bolivia, Newstramp presents the challenges of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ social revolution and the place for freedom of expression and government transparency during a revolution.

 

IMG_0184VIDEO: Soccer matters most

It’s July. The vice president is being indicted on corruption charges. The Argentine Treasury just lost a court case in the U.S. Supreme Court over $30 billion of debts, saying the so called Fundos Buitres must be paid. But in the streets people are rejoicing because Argentina is winning in the World Cup.

 

Families came out in crowds to Córdoba's Patio Olmos to celebrate the Argentine national team's advance into the he Semifinals of the World Cup 2014|photo by brandon c janes iv

VIDEO: Argentina suffering through victory

When a goal is scored in Argentina, the streets roar, fireworks are ignited and passions erupt. As Argentina advances past the Netherlands to the Finals against Germany, in Córdoba the night would become the highlight of the World Cup in 2014.

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Featured Image: Flag of Argentina By Government of Argentina (Vector graphics by Dbenbenn) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Featured Image: Cristina Fernandez by Wikipedia Commons open source