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Cablegate: Police Reform and Corruption in Argentina's Buenos

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2079/01 2951804
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221804Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9523
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6637
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6515
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6847
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0851
RUEHLP/DEA LA PAZ OCT HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002079

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM ASEC PREL PGOV SNAR AR
SUBJECT: POLICE REFORM AND CORRUPTION IN ARGENTINA'S BUENOS
AIRES PROVINCE

1. (SBU) Summary: The Ambassador met with Federal Prosecutor
Dr. Carlos Stornelli, who will likely be the next Minister of
Security for the Province of Buenos Aires following October
28 elections. His first priority and greatest challenge will
be the institutional and cultural reform of the notoriously
corrupt provincial police force and the need for modernizing
the police structure. He also talked of rebuilding the
people's trust in police, rebuilding trust between the police
and the political leadership, and "taking back the street."
He said the government was too permissive on some security
issues, including on drug use. Stornelli also stated that
corruption in Argentina, while perhaps not practiced by as
many public officials as in the 1990s, is a bigger problem
and more concentrated in fewer hands. Ambassador noted
Embassy agencies' close cooperation with federal and
provincial security forces and with the judicial sector and
offered USG assistance in training and possible exchanges and
visits on security-related issues. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Federal Prosecutor Dr. Carlos Stornelli called on
the Ambassador October 11 to discuss security issues in
Buenos Aires Province. Stornelli has been tapped by favored
gubernatorial candidate (and current Vice President) Daniel
Scioli to be his Security Minister. Stornelli told the
Ambassador he "would have a lot to do" if Scioli wins and he
is appointed Minister. He said his most difficult job will
be the reform -- institutional and cultural -- of the BA
provincial police, a notoriously corrupt institution. It is
a long-standing and multi-layered problem that will not be
fixed overnight.

REBUILDING TRUST
----------------
3. (U) A top priority will be trying to restore public
confidence in the police and police confidence in the
political leadership. Stornelli said his top priority will
be to restore a sense of public security by returning the
police to the streets. Stornelli explained that the police
are an "armed group" that does not know its mission. This is
the fault of the political leadership. The problem goes back
30 years, he explained. First, there were leftist guerrilla
attacks on street patrolmen, then the period of military
dictatorship and security force repression. This was
followed by the return of democracy in 1983 and the long
reconciliation process of trying to account for the numerous
human rights abuses of Argentina's security forces, including
by the BA provincial police.

4. (U) After the military government's repression, Stornelli
explained that the political pendulum swung the other way,
initiating a much more liberal attitude toward criminal
prosecution and imprisonment. He said this included an
excessively permissive attitude toward drug use in Argentina.
The police began "ceding the streets," i.e. not forcefully
going after criminals for fear of being accused of abuse. He
explained that police were afraid to do their jobs for fear
of becoming ensnared in bureaucratic and legal proceedings.
Coupled with Argentina's inefficient and ineffective judicial
system that routinely bounces offenders back to the streets
and with the police's poor pay and training, police see
little incentive to do their jobs. Stornelli stated that it
made little sense having the police on the street without a
clear mission.

BUDGET AND MODERNIZATION
------------------------
5. (SBU) Stornelli said he would work to get the necessary
budget for proper training and modernizing of the force. He
noted that in Buenos Aires province the police bureaus do not
communicate with each other, citing as an example the lack of
contact between the Criminal Investigations and Criminal
Prevention bureaus. He also noted little effective
communication with prosecutors, responsible along with judges
for directing investigations. Although he said the current
administrative structure was too decentralized with six
subsecretaries, Stornelli said he did not plan to make
significant organizational changes initially.

6. (U) The Ambassador noted Embassy agencies' close and
positive cooperation with Argentine federal and provincial
security forces and expressed our willingness to work with
the new provincial administration on these issues through
training, exchanges, visits, and facilitating contacts with
U.S. state and municipal law enforcement agencies

CORRUPTION ALIVE AND WELL
-------------------------
7. (SBU) Stornelli has worked on major public corruption
cases in Argentina since the early 1990s. He led
investigations against former President Menem, and is
currently working on the Skanska gas pipeline corruption
investigation. Corruption, according to Stornelli, remains a
very serious concern in Argentina. He said that corruption
was perhaps not as pervasive as in the 1990s (Argentina's
supposed golden era of corruption), i.e., not as many
officials were involved, but added that corruption today was
just as bad, if not worse, and concentrated in fewer hands.
Corruption, he said, was part of the culture and will be very
difficult to address. He noted that, personally, he
sometimes had to work hard to overcome his discouragement
over the persistence of the problems, but said there exists a
core of individuals dedicated to improving the situation.

COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) Provincial gubernatorial candidate Scioli has
stressed to the Embassy (and in his public campaign) his high
interest in improving security in the Buenos Aires province.
Stornelli, with his background as a prosecutor, knows the
issues well, seems to understand the enormity of his job, and
appears realistic about what he can accomplish. If appointed
Security Minister, Embassy believes Stornelli promises to be
a positive and effective interlocutor on security issues in
Argentina's most populous and important province. We will
look to target programs and training the forces whose
leadership he will assume to our mutual interests. Stornelli
expressed interest in a possible early visit to the U.S. to
learn from U.S. experiences.
WAYNE

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