Beginning today, units of the Argentine Federal Police (also known as La Federal) will begin leaving their posts at subway stations across Buenos Aires and by mid-March will be removed from highway posts surrounding the city. The ongoing changes, announced over the last by the office of Minister for Public Safety Nilda Garré, are part of a larger reorganization that will involve the removal of police officers from hospitals, public buildings and certain parts of the city.
According to reports, the moves are part of an effort to reduce corruption and improve the public image of the federal police. Since taking office in 2010 Garré has fired dozens of police officials on suspicion of corruption and has begun removing the police force from crime and drug ridden neighborhoods in an effort to discourage corrupt behavior. According to Garré, “the police force should only be used to combat federal crimes,” and the removal of officers from subways, hospitals, and public buildings will strengthen its presence on the streets.
Critics of the measures believe that they are politically motivated and an attempt to undermine the policies of Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri (PRO.) Macri, a member of the opposition, Propuesta Republicana coalition has frequently clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Buenos Aires Minister of Justice and Safety Guillermo Montenegro says that the removal of the police force in critical locations of the city is hampering public safety: “It seems like they (La Federal) are retreating from their duties all together.”
In light of these political battles, the PRO government decided to form its own police force, known as the Metropolitan Police of the City of Buenos Aires, to patrol the capital city. As of February 2011 this nascent force was only composed of 1,850 officers, a number not even close to what is needed for the appropriate protection of the city of Buenos Aires.