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Argentina to lift ban on army role in internal security

Staff Writer |
Under controversial reform of the nation’s defense doctrine, Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced that the army would again be taking part in internal security matters, lifting a 12-year-old ban.

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In a press conference at Campo de Mayo military base 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires, Macri said it was important that the military “collaborated on internal security matters, mainly providing logistics support at the border and operating during strategic events”.

A 2006 decree that limited the military to defense against attacks by another country will be modified, he said.

The country’s current doctrine was adopted with its 1976-1983 military dictatorship in mind, a period during which an estimated 30,000 people were killed or disappeared.

The decree redefined the role of the military, reducing its power and preventing it from intervening in internal matters. Since 1983, the army’s budget had also been reduced. At less than 1% of GDP, it is one of the lowest in South America.

Anticipating the reactions to the reform, Macri insisted that the objective of this “reconversion” was to “remove any doubts about democracy and the military by modernizing it so it could fulfill its main assignment: protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Argentina”.

“This is the military of the 21st century,” Defense Minister Oscar Aguad added.

Aguad later specified on local TV channel C5N that the army would act as a “dissuasive force” in small border towns to prevent “groups linked to narcotrafficking and terrorist groups” from settling there.

Opposition lawmaker Agustin Rossi was among the many that expressed concern.

“Since 1983, it has been a state ruling to separate national defense and internal security. Involving the army in matters of narcotrafficking is illegal. In countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, this decision did not work out.”

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