Buenos Aires Mayor Outlaws Street Valets

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Today, Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri vetoed a law regulating the activity of local street valets on the grounds that they make money by exploiting a public space that belongs to the community.

The law was intended to constitute an official register for the cuidadores de vehículos (car attendants) activity, comparing it de facto to other legal street businesses. Law 4113 was pushed through by the local opposition last December.

Today, a mayoral decree signed by the city government Cabinet Head, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, halted the measure. “There are many reports of extortions and abuses [by valets], Larreta said. “On top of it, just like there are people who honestly take care of cars, there are also mafias [who are pulling the strings]. We will push to approve a ban on them.”

In Argentina, trapitos are the people who “offer” parking spaces on the streets and will “look after” the car in exchange for money. The name refers to the cloth they wave at passing cars to attract their attention to the parking space. The vetoed norm stated that trapitos required a two-year rolling permit to work in prearranged areas of the city. The permit would have been denied in case of contraventions of law infringements. The trapitos’ income would have been purely on driver’s voluntary basis.

The law will now be discussed again and could be ruled out by the legislative chamber. It will pass only with a two-thirds majority, 40 out of 70 votes. However, the opposition can count on just 32 seats in the local parliament.

Despite an official statement that placed the ratio of vetoed laws to only 5%, Macri’s administration has been in the eye of the media storm for the alleged abuse of the veto practice.

One of the most controversial bans by Macri’s administration was over a law implementing a structural reform of public education. Recently Macri has made the headlines of national papers by prohibiting street vending activities in some areas of the city centre.

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