On December 31, 2013, a young man arrived in Argentina from America. He flew in on Avianca Airlines and when he landed he found out his luggage had been lost. Officials from Avianca Airlines delivered his luggage the following day, but his laptop was gone. It had been stolen by airport employees or Argentine Customs officials.
Ten days later, security software which he had installed, began sending him images of the current user, Pablo. Along with Pablo’s picture were screen shots of what he was looking at.
Pablo was trying to become the administrator of the laptop.
“Policia” in Buenos Aires and Argentina have not been helpful. They are among the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the world and are not trusted by 77 percent of the Argentine population.
Police Corruption in Argentina
Increasing evidence in Argentina is pointing to the police in a string of scandals. Unanswered and unnerving questions are nagging Argentines about the violence, corruption and lawlessness by the “men in blue”.
According to the Global Corruption Barometer 2013, police are seen as one of the most corrupt institutions in Argentina. Extortion is one of the most common forms of abuse committed by police as reported by Argentines with “on-the-street” experience. Argentine police have also been involved in arbitrary arrests and abuse especially in Buenos Aires.
Businesses’ perception of the “policia” is low also. The Global Competitiveness Report from 2013 says that business executives report that Argentine police cannot be trusted to provide and enforce law and order in the country.
Not only have the “policia” been known to be among the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the world, they’re among the deadliest. A conspiracy of some top-ranking officers led to people dying in an Iranian attack on Argentine soil of an Israeli government building.
Recently, a tape recording of a police radio call appears to support the often repeated claims that Buenos Aires police were involved in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992. The blast killed 29 people.
In the tape, a federal police commander instructs the guards to leave their assigned posts and relocate to the nearby Foreign Ministry. A demonstration was allegedly gathering at the ministry building and police presence was required there. The demonstration turned out to be a hoax and the bomb at the Israeli Embassy exploded.
The announcement of the tape’s existence came as investigators were looking into connections between Argentine police officers and Islamic terrorists. The cassette came to light during the testimony of three officers who had been on duty the day of the bombing. One of the testifying officers said that his nephew, also a police officer, had gotten a copy of the tape at the police academy where it was being used in a training session on how to respond to emergency situations.
Recent reports have also included police officers’ planning “death squad” hits to fight rising crime and charges that an organized-crime gang has benefited from the protection of several police districts in the nation’s capital.
As elsewhere in Latin America, money is the source of police wrongdoing. Salaries are low and the forces have lost much of their budget, prestige and influence.
The police have had high-ranking leaders to follow as they slid down the rails of corruption. Among the most corrupt leaders in Argentine history is the current president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Kirchner and Corruption
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has been even less active in pursuing anti-corruption policies that her husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner. Corruption and graft have remained front-and-center in Casa Rosada and political patronage is still a respected art form within the country’s government.
In 2013, a report issued by researchers said that Argentina has a strong regulatory framework to deal with corruption, it’s the enforcement which is the problem. Corruption in Argentina is wide-spread. An inefficient judiciary is unable to do anything constructive about politicians who can be bought. But it all starts at the head.
Kirchner, and her husband, have been involved in public procurement corruption. According to Freedom House, a lack of independence has hampered several agencies who try to root out corruption in the government. The result is that corrupt officials are not subjected to Argentine law and institutions which do try to fight corruption are politically castrated by the Kirchner administration.
Transparency International reported in 2013 which institutions in Argentina are most corrupt. Not surprisingly, political parties came in number one. Closely following is the police force and the courts. Fully 75 percent of the population feel that the government is corrupt and fails at weeding the corruption out.
Foreign companies don’t need government approval or registration in order to invest in Argentina. What they do need are deep pockets to pay off the many politicians standing by with their hands out. It is routine for companies to make regular payments, bribes, connected with imports and exports, public utilities and the awarding of public contracts. After inflation and currency regulations, corruption is consistently ranked as the third biggest hindrance to doing business in the country.
The laptop? It’s gone and no hope of being found. The people in Argentina are becoming increasingly restless and dissatisfied with the “corruption-as-usual” which permeates the society and many feel that a revolution is on the horizon. Meanwhile, Pablo, and other thieves, enjoy their work with impunity.
Editorial by Jerry Nelson
Pablo Has My Mac