Kirchner: Argentinean Culture under Urgent Threat! A New Ministry, and No Time for Congress


EspañolArgentina’s Official Gazette announced on Tuesday that President Cristina Kirchner has ordered the creation of the Ministry of Culture and appointed folklore singer Teresa Parodi as its head. The move has sparked controversy among the opposition, who question the constitutionality of the president’s directive.

This decision by the president comes within the framework of a new National Dance Act, as Argentinean producers prepare to participate in the latest Cannes Film Festival.

The president’s executive order notes “the importance that culture represents as an inducer of development and social cohesion, its role in diversity and the integration of minority communities, in the process of gender equality … the bridge between urban and rural communities requires the creation of this agency.”

The Official Gazette explains why Executive Order 642 did not pass either house of Congress by stating, “the urgency in adopting this measure makes it impossible to follow ordinary procedures outlined by the Constitution for the enactment of laws.”

After being sworn in by Kirchner, Parodi commented, “I imagine a ministry with open doors, with the same policies as before, only more in depth, so that Argentina’s wonderful cultural diversity will be more visible.”

The fact that the creation of the new agency was not approved by Congress caused an uproar with the opposition. Representatives Laura Alonso and Patricia Bullrich questioned why the president would decide to create a ministry by decree when “Congress is fully operational.”

Laura Alonso of the opposition party Pro Union, the same party of Head of Government of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri, said the promotion of culture is “relevant,” but stressed that the creation of a ministry by Necessary and Emergency Order (DNU) is unconstitutional.

“They choose to keep destroying everything,” she remarked.

Congresswoman Bullrich commented that a DNU is meant to “consider urgent matters.” She added, “To keep using it for common management issues is an abuse of power. The Law of Ministries is a basic law of national government and it cannot be replaced by a DNU. It destroys the separation of powers in which our republic is based.”

New Ministry: Culture Promotion or Party Financing?

José Luis Patiño, leader of the opposition party Freedom Union, speculates that the creation of a new ministry — bringing the total to 16 — might be related to the ruling party’s search for funds.

“I see it as a matter of political party financing through yet another government agency. It’s being done to create jobs and money for its members. They cannot say it’s being done for cultural reasons or they would have done it before,” said Patiño.

The former congressional candidate added, “I think it comes in a package of actions being implemented to ‘make bank.’ It’s disgusting; the increased staffing of public employees in recent times, the reallocation of budgets, and slapping the Treasury.”

Government Employment Grows Rapidly

According to the October 2013 report by the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPEC), “between 2003 and 2012, public sector employment in Argentina increased 71 percent, of which 52 percent is accounted for by the increase in temporary and permanent positions, and the remaining 48 percent due to newly recruited personnel.”

Journalist Mariano Obarrio of La Nacion reported yesterday that “the Minister of Labor Carlos Tomada announced with great fanfare that, before December 31, the national public administration will incorporate 7,500 new public employees to permanent positions, from transitional positions and temporary contracts, many of which currently belong to young people from the [Kirchnerista] group, La Cámpora.”

According to official data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC), the government employed 1,034,354 people in the first quarter of 2006, compared to 1,563,666 now employed by the government in the last quarter of 2013. Sources within INDEC who asked not to be identified say that those figures do not account for defense jobs or contractors, adding another 40 percent to that number. The total number of public employees would then equal 3,300,000, more than half of the 6,296,587 jobs offered by the private sector.

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

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