In the wake of the brutal confrontation that occurred at Hospital Borda on 26th April between protesters and the Metropolitan Police, controversy has once again surfaced surrounding the city of Buenos Aires’ police force.
The incident at the psychiatric hospital left approximately 50 people injured and eight were arrested after batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets were used in response to protesters opposing the advancement of the construction of a civic centre on site.
The Hospital Borda incident follows a series of violent encounters between the public and the Metropolitan Police. Protests at Parque Centenario earlier this year saw over 20 arrested and a similar violent police response utilised, while the brutal police evictions at Parque Indoamericano in 2010 left two residents dead.
Such instances of police intervention have led many to question whether Mauricio Macri’s notoriously ‘tough on crime’ police force are abusing their power and responding with excessive and unnecessary force. The Argentina Independent took to the streets and asked locals their opinion on Buenos Aires’ controversial Metropolitan Police.
Pedro Hahn, 66, Retired, La Boca
The Metropolitan Police are relatively new, and I don’t know too much about their history or how they run as a force, but until now I think they were a relatively accepted presence and authority. But what happened at Borda changed things, and shone a light on who they really are, and the excessive force they don’t hesitate to use. But I’m not an expert; this is just the opinion of an ordinary citizen.
Mariana Espeche, 25, Secretary, Capital Federal
I think that without a doubt the Metropolitan Police abused their power that day at Borda. I have a friend there who was very insecure about what was happening. I don’t think the behaviour of the police was justified at all. As for a solution, the construction of the civic centre is complicated and raises other social and political questions, but we must remember that the violent confrontation of the Metropolitan Police is not an isolated case. Their abuse of power has not only occurred at Borda.
Matias Conte, 18, Student, Monte Grande
I don’t honestly know if they generally act this way, but in the Borda case, the Metropolitan Police undoubtedly acted with excessive force and abused their authority. What happened at Borda has really brought to the forefront the argument of police intervention and brutality, which I think is a discussion that really needs to be had. This is something that needs to be raised, and perhaps it’s in police training when the incorporation of these ideas occurs, the idea that excessive force is not only sometimes necessary but encouraged. In my opinion, generally speaking, police intervention and brutality is not necessary, and it especially wasn’t in the Borda case.
Matias Amesto, 25, Student, Retiro
I think that what happened at Borda is very much a demonstration of the politics and views that Mayor Macri has about social protests and demonstrations. He is very much a repressor of certain social groups and sections of society. Before the Metropolitan Police arrived, it was not an excessive or out of control situation, the arrival of the police, and their violence and use of rubber bullets etc., escalated the situation to what it was. I also think that due to certain media coverage, Macri and his actions are protected, and he therefore doesn’t have to deal with the consequences.
Ilumine Fernandez, 21, Student, Villa Lugano.
They have a lot of power, yes, as does the city government and the policies of Macri. I think they have a lot of power, but then they abuse their power with a streak of violence. I’m not sure if there was a different Mayor if they could regulate the power the police force has, or whether the Metropolitan is built upon a physical and violent manner of dealing with situations. Although in the country there is a wider problem with unnecessary intervention and an abuse of authority, such as with the gendarmes. It is not just the Metropolitan Police who act excessively.