19 April 2007

Autonomous City of Rosario: starting the campaign

I'm opening a new blog to organize a citizens' campaign for the autonomy of the city of Rosario; it's called Ciudad Autónoma de Rosario. Below is a loose translation of the introduction.

Rosario is the most populated city in Santa Fe and the third most populated in Argentina. It is a major port and the center of a prosperous agricultural and industrial region. Despite being almost three times as populated as the provincial capital and home to one third of the whole provincial population, it is treated like any other city. Its importance is politically diminished by the fact that the central administration resides in the city of Santa Fe. Rosario has also been systematically discriminated against regarding the part of the provincial budget that is granted to the municipalities.

According to the Argentine National Constitution of 1994, the provinces must guarantee the autonomy of their municipalities. The Constitution of Santa Fe does not include such a provision. Law experts are divided as to whether a constitutional reform is needed to explicitly allow municipal autonomy, or whether a law passed by the legislative branch in the regular fashion should suffice. Regardless, the implementation of municipal autonomy (not only for Rosario but also for the city of Santa Fe) is a debt that the political forces that rule the province have failed to honour for more than a decade.

Municipal autonomy does not imply a secession of the province. "Autonomy" can be implemented on different fields, as appropriate. For Rosario, it should include the ability to choose its own authorities (that is, to define its administrative structure) and its own way of electing or changing them; it should include also the legal ability to levy taxes, and to dictate laws that address local issues. Abstractly, the autonomous status must put forth the idea that the city is an entity in its own right and not simply a subdivision, a mere district of a larger territory which has been granted the mercy of governing itself within a structure dictated from above.

Autonomy is not a recipe for success. It is only a framework for larger things, a necessary step for certain developments, and it should be a top strategic priority. Now, politics is too important to be left in the hands of the politicians, so we the citizens must do something — at the very least we should let it be known that we want our representatives to think and act on this need.

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