Argentina's newly elected president Mauricio Macri has pledged to implement tough anti-crime measures as soon as he assumes office, but he faces a tough task in reversing the country's slide into insecurity and the spread of organized crime.
After winning a hotly contested election by 51 percent of the vote against opponent Daniel Scioli's 49 percent on November 22, Macri announced one of his first acts after taking office on December 10 will be to declare a state of emergency against the "unpardonable" rise of violent crime, reported the Los Angeles Times.
"We have to start from the first day [in office] to take control of the territory," Macri asserted, sending "a clear message to those [drug traffickers] who are hoping to install themselves and operate in Argentina."
Macri added that government inaction to halt the advance of drug trafficking in Argentina under the administration of his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has been "incomprehensible and inexcusable."
Once in office, Macri said a plan would be put in motion to "professionalize" provincial police forces. Policing techniques that Macri claims reduced crime in Buenos Aires, where he has been mayor since 2007, will be instituted across the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.
InSight Crime Analysis
Reining in Argentina's rising violence levels and growing role in the regional drug trade will be an uphill battle for Macri.
In recent years, organized crime and drug trafficking have been on the increase in Argentina, with foreign drug trafficking organizations establishing a strong presence and becoming increasingly entrenched in the country. These foreign groups use Argentine territory as a transit point for drug shipments destined for West Africa and Europe, and also help fuel a growing domestic drug market.
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Of further concern -- and potential frustration for Macri's anti-crime efforts -- is that the spread of drug trafficking has demonstrated signs of hollowing out Argentine state institutions via corruption, with recent cases including allegations over the complicity of government officials in cocaine production and federal judges taking bribes from drug traffickers. Such criminal allegations have even reached the upper-echelons of government, with Anibal Fernandez, Argentina's current Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, accused of heading a precursor chemical trafficking network.
Compounding the challenges Macri will face in enacting new security policies is that he lacks majority support in Congress, and is inheriting a deeply divided political environment. However, Macri can at least take some comfort in that Argentina's judiciary appears to be ready to take on a more active role in supporting government attempts to dismantle criminal networks operating in the country.