Thursday , August 5 2021

Horacio "Pechi" Quiroga: "I will destine until the last day of my life to extinguish the populism of my province and of my country"

The radical mayor of the capital of Neuquén, Horacio "Pechi" Quiroga, speaks with the certainty of who is already assumed as the next governor of Neuquén. Trust that on March 10 the formula for Change, in which Pastor and Evangelical Pastor, David Schlereth, is highlighted, will make history, interrupting for the first time in the research the 57 years of hegemony of the Popular Movement of Neuquén (MPN).

"As happened with the PRI in Mexico, in life nothing is eternal," he said in his office in the capital on the movement that cultivates "perfected Peronism in its exacerbated populism" during an extensive interview with Infobae. The NPM was able to enthuse itself in power without alternating, he says, imposing a sophism: "What Neuquén says is not a province, not a country or a continent, but a separate planet, and one that inhabits this planet and is not affiliated. the MPN is not Neuquén, it is a Martian without future ", is lowered.

Polls on voting intentions have so far shown virtual parity electoral scenario among the top three candidates who aspire to the government. According to the measurements of Júlio Aurélio, hired by Quiroga, the radical is imposed by one and three points (24%) to the former piquetero leader. Ramón Rioseco (Citizen Unit – Frente Neuquén, with 23%) and the governor Omar Gutiérrez (MPN, 21%). Faced with this narrow margin, marked by a contest without scrutiny, in which a difference of one vote may define the election, the reality is that none is setting itself up as a clear winner.

Quiroga knows this and, in the face of this scenario, draws his weapons: he proposes increase hydrocarbon royalties and dump them into infrastructure; Intensify the "delay of conventional production" and offer other areas subject to immediate exploitation. He also postulates diversify the economic matrix of the province, which today is monopolized, he says, by extracting nonrenewable resources, as shale gas and shale oil either increase exports of fruit; to train winemaking; sustain livestock and boost tourism.

"Since lithium scan The installation of salmon farms In ecologically correct places, I think of the 50-year sustainable development of the province, "he says, and he redoubled his commitment to security, public employment and, in that pending matter – he says – that is the granting of title deeds to the legitimate occupants of the land.

According to Sedronar, Neuquén has the higher per capita cocaine use in the country and criminal statistics locate the province asEgunda in the national ranking in number of robberies to every 100,000 inhabitants. In this context, he says he will fight against drug trafficking and crime by forming elite groups in the provincial security forces and training them in criminal intelligence.

Quiroga, "fervent admirer of Julio A. Roca ", it is emphatic to acknowledge himself as a politically incorrect candidate: "The political correctness is left to the left, which is a lot of useless things and sinks the country," he shoots. And another highly sonorous statement is reserved, among many others he postulates in this interview, to describe Pope Francis: "An Argentine pope, populist and Peronist had to arrive to break an institution that has been trailing for more than 2000 years."

What are the objective conditions for which you believe you can end MPN hegemony?

-As with the PRI in Mexico, in life nothing is eternal. The MPN began to govern on the same day I first took communion in 1963 and was able to stay for 57 years because the party functioned as both officialdom and opposition. But to take on responsible opposition, all you had to do was become a guerrilla. This added to the puncture and the clientelism that makes us today more than 70,000 civil servants: 38% of the economically active population in Neuquén. Because you have to understand that the MPN today is an improved Peronism, with a populism exacerbated in its DNA. It ruled with a budget that divided by each inhabitant far exceeds that of other provinces. Taking the example of the 2017 budget and comparing it with resources per inhabitant of Cordoba (US $ 34,000), Mendoza (US $ 36,000) or Rio Negro (US $ 49,000), Neuquén had US $ 108,000. And yet, there are no works, no better health or education, and we have a very indebted province. For every $ 100 they enter, there is debt to $ 62. And we get happy every time the dollar goes up because what we get for royalty increases. On the other hand, in the municipality that I preside, for every $ 1000 that comes in, we owe 0.97 cents. There are clear differences in management: we do not spend more than we have, we learn to save and we allocate 37% of our budget to large public works without incurring debt.

-Represent to change at this critical time of the economy, do you add or have fewer votes for your election?

-What is at stake is how the province of Neuquén will be administered. And I will not deny what I am, because I take care of good and bad circumstances and more or less. I am aware that we are living in a situation of great distress, where the limit of things is hunger. But to leave or get rid of that damned gene called populism, we have to cross the river. With anguish, with tears, with postponements. But this bipolar Argentina has to see one thing: or return to the past, with the risk of being Venezuela or cross the river facing more waves and storms, knowing that the situation is complex. I will not speculate on what is best for me. I want to keep pushing to cross over to the other side of the river and look on the other side of populism as a stage surpassed by the Argentines.

-What effect do you think it would have on the Neuquenians if the president comes here to support you?

It would help clarify the waters. Because there are some who believe that the president has a better relationship with the governor. I applaud this good melody: it must be so.

"Did you feel deferred?"

First, I'm not jealous. Secondly, I experienced the other side of the coin during Kirchnerism. In the years I was mayor I never received. Not even to give me a cold and spit coffee. I speak of Minister Kicillof, whom I got tired of calling once a week. I told his secretary, "Look, tell him I need to meet him to show the good financial results we have, but also to get some resources for jobs for which we have no back, also say that if he does not take care of me, It does not matter: I'll continue to call him that, and please tell him, too, in my name, that, as I know, he will not receive me and even knowing that I should restrain myself, he should go to the most respected mother who gave birth to him.I will repeat this as a lay prayer every week until he ceases to be Minister of Economy. "

-But he did not answer the question: do you think he can stand out from the national economic situation in front of his constituency?

-I won elections in adverse situations, in different ways in relation to who ruled the nation. In 2011 we competed against Kirchner, against the MPN, and against the UCR who was my party. We won the same. People know what we did in the city of Neuquén. And he knows we can repeat it all over the province.. When I took over the intendancy, the paved streets were only 30%, today they are 80%. We took a terminal that was a certificate of shame and we made another modern one as if it were an airport and now we will launch the first Metrobus. We developed the entire Paseo de la Costa on the Limay River, which was an inaccessible area and today is a public space par excellence. We made a Museum of Fine Arts connected to the MNBA. We brought to Julio Le Parc, the exhibitions of Picasso, Rembrandt, the engravings of Goya. Today this museum, designed by Mario Roberto Álvarez, is a monument work, granted by the International Biennial of Architecture. And all with municipal resources. All this transformation was aimed at changing the public space. This year, we estimate that there will be construction permits for more than 1 million m2 in private investment. In addition, we are debuting the first Metrobus.

-The senator Guillermo Pereyra claims for the nation a historical repair fund to develop Vaca Muerta. Do you agree that the National State should invest in infrastructure in Vaca Muerta when the oil royalties go to the province?

"I will not argue with Pereyra; It has a very wild vision for my taste. For the nation, all you have to do is comply with the federal tax co-participation. Not only do we not have to ask for a nation's weight to develop Dead Cow, but when properly managed, it is not necessary to ask for a weight. You can not have a federal government with hoses from 24 governors. Each province has to be aware of the potential of its territory. And on the subject of Dead Cow, especially, these features should be protected. We would not use them to pay for electricity, gas, overtime, toilet paper, coffee or to make cheap demagoguery and sustain the indicator industry. We would transform them to improve the quality of life of the neuquinos, promoting urbanization, infrastructure works, development in general.

-What would be an effective management model for the Dead Cow?

-I agree to develop the shale but you also have to and to improve the production of conventional wells which have a much lower operating cost and that could be reduced some points of gross income. But Neuquén has to increase royalties. One variable could be that bids, which are competitive and selection processes, are awarded based on who pays more royalties with benefits for companies that most quickly specify investments. Today the areas are licensed and the companies are allowed to do a real estate business: they do not put them to produce immediately, then sell them for others to explore or do not invest directly for the extraction. In the latter case, the royalties are zero. We must defend all these resources because we are the owners. Neuquén has to capitalize on what has been produced in infrastructure, as I said, and allow diversification of the economy. We need to increase the exports of the fruit and wine industry, strengthen cattle in the north of the province, direct tourism and go out to conquer markets. Chile with the same raw material that Neuquén does. I also think of mining lithium mining, although I do not like open pit mining, and the development of salmon farms in safe and environmentally appropriate places. I think for the next 50 years.

– Are not you afraid that wanting to change the rules for oil companies is accused of violating legal security?

-The good thing in this case is that we are all demanding. And it seems good, because the well-understood demands can lead us to success in both seriously. For example, they we will require greater environmental controls, since we had some problems. I'm not afraid of big business owners; I respect them and we all need this province and Vaca Muerta. But oil and gas activity has three stages: exploration, production and remediation. If there is one we do not do, we are doing the wrong things. And when I talk about the economic equation, I also put myself in the shoes of the companies, especially when some CEO has to explain to the shareholders inexplicable things. For example, the the arrogance of the bosses outside Vaca Muerta, or irregular occupations by pseudocommunities Mapuches that really do Mapuchismo: they have a great selective capacity to choose where to make a mess. Or they are high-value real estate sites, in the national parks area, or where there are hydrocarbons. And I assure you that there were no lizards before.

"How are you going to fight?"

– Impose the law. YPF has filed more than 200 criminal complaints in the province of Neuquén and has never investigated or issued measures that are favorable. In fact, there were 27 wells in Loma La Lata that could not operate because a community required a nonexistent drilling right. Here, one state has been authorized to operate within another state: the Mapuche state worked in the state of Neuquén. I know that YPF finds it very difficult to explain this to shareholders. They have made a deposit for days, they can not operate, and the Neuquins lose as many dollars as they do. If we all respect the law, the use of force is not necessary. But here use force, except the state.

– Will you rush the delivery of bonds to the communities that have been waiting for them for years?

-Logic Must regularize this situation and tell them that they are welcome to the capitalist system as it happens in other parts of the world. They have an initial benefit that is the ownership of land and the possibility of associating with other communities or ethnic groups to achieve an economic equation that allows them to live better and of course to pay taxes.

"Are the lands in the possession of the community tax-free?"

-Actually, in Neuquén, nobody owns anythingbecause they never gave titles. Not only the Mapuches, but also the boys from the north and many others have a precarious mandate. It is a matter of priority: we must turn the legitimate occupier into an owner. And who is not, will have to go.

– It is not the same as being mayor than managing the security forces in a province with high crime rate that also leads the use of drugs. What do you postulate in terms of security?

We need to understand why these numbers are produced. There is no doubt that per capita income in Neuquén is higher than in other provinces. There are two aspects that we study: the cocaine obtained from Bolivia costs $ 1000 per kilo. In Argentine territory, it costs up to five times more. But if you move to Chile, this cost is multiplied two more times.

Is there traffic from Neuquén to Chile?

I talked to the minister. [Bullrich] and the controls have improved greatly. Here there were steps like Icalma, which stands on top of Villa Pehuenia, where There were sporadic clandestine steps through quads and some of these people were found to be drugged. At the provincial level, it is necessary to reach the wells and reservoirs more effectively. Pereyra himself said that O 40% of the people working in the depots consume cocaine.Now, somebody takes it. Just as there are clandestine brothels. It is all things that must be eradicated and the first thing that dealers is that we will form elite groups to make intelligence. And that they do not come to me to rush to the left after they are doing intelligence to the opponents, to the left groups or to the syndicalists. Thus, they end up being functional for drug trafficking and organized crime. Because some rulers, including the current one, fear to make intelligence because of this prejudice. We will do intelligence and the drug traffickers will be afraid to come to Neuquén because we are going to put them prisoners. And we will deal with organized crime with the force of law and with all the instruments that a civil servant has, including his weapon.

– What is your opinion on how Minister Bullrich dealt with security at the national level?

-It improved a lot, played a very clear message to society, despite the famous progress that this country has, which are a bunch of useless things that plunge the country. She is encouraged and makes a difference.

-If he is elected, he will implement a policy similar to that of the minister …

No, much more demanding. It is managed in a country where before they ruled over those who believed they had the right not to be right. Those who said that in Argentina there were fewer poor people than in Germany, and when they refuted them, they said, "Am I right and what?" In this society where there are still many vestiges of the right not to be right, we had to elaborate a protocol that is not necessary for me. Let's put an end to hypocrisy: if we want a police officer who never pulls a gun, let's say, "Sir, you'll never get a gun."

Are not your electoral proposals too radical for a society accustomed to other rules?

"Of course they are, because What we propose is to change. Here the police are social workers. And I do not know if Neuquén society is prepared for this change, but politicians have a mission to make a future. Politicians who believe that problems solve time cast the worst case scenario.

"How's the polls?"

-We have 24 points. We are one point above Rioseco, FPV, and three of Governor Omar Gutiérrez, MPN, measured by Julio Aurelio. The numbers of Isonomía that contribute to the national government are similar.

-What does this strengthening of the intention to vote for the Citizen Unit attribute to him?

Neuquén is a very Peronist province. The MPN is born of neoperonism. That is why the worst Peronism outside of Buenos Aires has always been Neuquén. The point is that the MPN, which concentrated and contained all Peronism, was breaking up. He changed saying, "No, we are Neuquen." Today there is polarization and that is why I see a great possibility of performing the alternation. Even if the Civic Unit were won, it would also be welcome to the alternation.

"Even though Rioseco is located at the antipodes of his ideology?"

Yes, and fortunately, if not everyone says the same. Do you think much of what I say is worth saying? Not really. But people know me and if I lie to them, they'll realize I'm talking about an election issue. Besides, I'm a big man to hide what I think.

"But he's also a campaigner.

-But for me, politics passes say what it is. And I am this, besides being a fervent admirer of President Roca …

"He has seven children, is he very Catholic?"

"I am a vocational believer despite my adolescent effort at being an atheist. I belong to a family suckers, where on Sundays the priest sat at our table. And I have always looked upon the church as a solemn institution, full of mystery and almost perfect. An Argentine pope, populist and Peronist, had to arrive to break an institution that has been happening for more than 2000 years.

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