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Gildo Insfrán

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Gildo Insfrán
Governor of Formosa
Assumed office
10 December 1995
Vice GovernorFloro Bogado (1995–2017)
Eber Solís (2019–present)
Preceded byVicente Joga
Vice Governor of Formosa
In office
10 December 1987 – 10 December 1995
GovernorVicente Joga
Preceded byLisbel Rivira
Succeeded byFloro Bogado
Personal details
Born (1951-01-19) 19 January 1951 (age 73)
Laguna Blanca, Formosa, Argentina
Political partyJusticialist Party
ProfessionVeterinarian

Gildo Insfrán (born 19 January 1951) is an Argentine Justicialist Party (PJ) politician, who has been Governor of Formosa Province since 1995.

Having been close to former President Carlos Menem, Insfrán later became close to President Néstor Kirchner, who defeated Menem in 2003 and was the leader of the Justicialist Party.

Insfrán has been the target of accusations of corruption and embezzlement, and has been severely criticized for his long tenure. He arranged to have Formosa's provincial constitution revised to allow him to be reelected indefinitely, and has thus been described as having "stuck a knife into the provincial Constitution".[1] In August 2012, journalist Jorge Lanata investigated the history of Insfrán's governorship and aired an exposé on his television program in which he depicted the province as a feudal fiefdom that is rife with corruption.[2] His tenures as governor have been regarded favorably by inhabitants of Formosa.[3]

Early life and education

Insfrán comes from family of Paraguayan immigrants and is the youngest among his siblings. His father, who had fought in the Chaco War, passed away when Gildo was young, and his brother Miguel took on the responsibility of managing the family's finances.

Thanks to Miguel's support, Gildo was able to pursue his university education in the province of Corrientes, where he successfully completed his studies and earned a degree in veterinary science at the National University of the Northeast. where he successfully completed his studies and became a veterinarian. It was during his time in college that he first became involved in politics.

Early career

During his time at university in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Insfrán began his political activism in the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR), a minority Maoist party. However, before completing his studies, he had already joined the recently legalized Justicialist Party (PJ). Prior to formally engaging in institutional political activities, he practiced as a veterinarian.

His political career began in 1978, after sending a letter in February requesting employment from General Juan Carlos Colombo, the former governor of Formosa during the last military dictatorship. As a result, Gildo Insfrán assumed a position in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the province on May 5, 1978, until December 10, 1983, when he resigned to run in the legislative elections with the return of democracy.

In the provincial elections of 1983, he ran as a candidate for provincial deputy in the Formosa legislature on the Justicialista Party ticket, occupying the fifth position on the list. The Justicialista Party emerged victorious with 42.83% of the votes, and Insfrán was elected as a deputy. Due to the staggered system used in the election of provincial legislators, Insfrán would only serve half of a constitutional legislative term until the partial renewal in 1985. In those elections, Insfrán sought re-election and his list achieved a very narrow victory against the opposition Radical Civic Union, with 44.95% against 44.06%. Nonetheless, he was easily reelected to a full term until 1989.

Governor

In 1995, he formed his own party affiliated with the Justicialista Party and ran for governor of the province. It is said that Vicente Joga and Gildo Insfrán had made a pact to alternate in the positions of governor and vice governor. Insfrán was elected governor for a four-year term thanks to the "Ley de Lemas" (Law of Party Slates), which had been established in 1987.

From the beginning of his government, Insfrán focused on the construction of public infrastructure, such as the "blue roofs" throughout the province, which were implemented in schools, colleges, hospitals, police stations, and other government offices.

The governor expressed his desire to compete in the upcoming elections for re-election, which caused a rupture in the friendly relationship he had with Joga, who also wanted to run for governor. This disagreement led to a confrontation between the two congressmen. In late November 1998, the provincial court allowed Insfrán to run for governor again. This decision was made after Joga and the Radical Civic Union presented a declaratory action to the court to disqualify Insfrán as a gubernatorial candidate. Joga requested that the court interpret Article 129 of the provincial constitution, which states that a formula for the governorship of Formosa can only be reelected once.

At the beginning of 1999, provincial deputy Armando Cabrera accused Carlos Gerardo González, a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Formosa, after tensions erupted within the Justicialista Party during the first week of March when Insfrán's collaborators accused González of stealing the judicial record.

On March 3, penal judge Ceferino Arroquigaray ordered the arrest of Judge Carlos González and the search of his offices to seize the record. González was arrested in the morning near his house while driving his car, which was intercepted by the police and taken to the central fire station in Formosa. This incident was considered an "institutional scandal" since a judge can only be arrested if he is previously removed through impeachment or caught in the act of committing a crime.

Approximately one month before the September 26 elections, a brawl broke out between those supporting Insfrán and those supporting Joga within the Formosa Legislature. As a result, Governor Insfrán closed the Legislature, which also helped him avoid a possible impeachment trial that would have ruined his chances of being a candidate. The hostility was so intense that Carlos Menem and Eduardo Duhalde — who represented a model for Insfrán and Joga, respectively kept away from the political campaign.

To achieve re-election, Insfrán promoted the reform of an article of the provincial constitution. During his second term, he called for a Constitutional Convention that amended the article, allowing for indefinite re-election.

In the 2003 elections, he won with 67.1% of the votes. In May 2003, then-President Néstor Kirchner arrived in the province and signed the Act of Historical Reparation together with Insfrán. Through this act, the Presidency of the Nation committed to settling old debts with Formosa, especially in terms of infrastructure. This led to the paving of National Route No. 81 "Padre Pacífico Scozzina," which connects the provincial capital with the neighboring province of Salta, among other projects.

During his administration, a water treatment plant was inaugurated, increasing irrigation capacity for the towns of El Potrillo and El Favorito community in Tronquito 1. Furthermore, all indigenous and creole populations in that part of the Bermejo department, as well as those in Ramón, were connected to the integrated provincial electricity service, ensuring they have 24-hour access to electricity.

In the 2007 elections, he was reelected again with 75% of the votes. On December 12, at 10:46 am, Insfrán was sworn in as governor for the next four years. During his new term, two new hospitals were built in the interior of Formosa, including the one in Laguna Blanca (15 kilometers from the Paraguayan border and over 200 kilometers from the capital of Formosa) and the Hospital El Espinillo.

On June 30, 2011, Gildo Insfrán changed the Law of Party Slates. The project to eliminate the sub-ticket system only for the Governor category was presented by deputy Alberto Sánchez in the Legislature, arguing that this change responded "to the society's request to clarify the electoral system." However, candidates competing against Insfrán claimed that the reform of the Law of Party Slates, far from favoring pluralism, facilitated Governor Gildo Insfrán's re-election because he didn't want to risk losing the provincial elections to the rival Frente Amplio party. Ricardo Buryaile stated, "The government was clearly weakened: it reformed the law of party slates because it was losing the elections." Despite protests from opposition members, the project was approved by the majority of the ruling party in just half an hour.

On October 23, Insfrán triumphed for the fifth consecutive time in the general elections with 76% of the votes. Some media outlets in the province reported a series of incidents in the area of Ingeniero Juárez before the elections. The news portal Opinión Ciudadana reported that José Palma's van, an associate of Francisco Nazar, the Catholic priest who competed against Insfrán for the governorship, was set on fire.

On Thursday night, three days before the elections, the candidate for mayor José Luis Maldonado from the Frente Amplio party and a companion of Nazar, was attacked with a knife by a political operative. On Saturday the 15th, Pablo Egues, the authority of the Wichí Esperanza Community, died due to the extortion he suffered in his final days by Mayor Cristino Mendoza, who broke into his home accompanied by a group of thugs to force Egues to hand over the ID cards of the people in his indigenous community for use in the elections. Egues resisted, and the violence escalated to the point where the mayor's lawyer destroyed Egues' house with his car. This tragic event was condemned by the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights.

However, it was also reported that the members of the Wichí Barrio Viejo community were detained and forced to vote. In parallel, the AMRA-Foro Médico Ciudadano de Formosa, accredited to participate in the elections as one of the observers, released a report revealing that a total of 10,000 Paraguayans (including a Paraguayan government official) crossed into Formosa's territory to vote in the elections, using only two border crossings, without including the Friendship Bridge, where pedestrians enter without any controls. People close to Insfrán's circle claimed that the elections were conducted normally and that 67.3% of the electoral roll participated.

Gildo Insfrán assumed office on December 11 for the 2011-2015 term.

In the elections on October 25, 2015, Insfrán emerged as the winner with 73.3% of the votes, thus beginning his sixth consecutive term.

In the 2017 primary elections (PASO), it was announced that the electoral justice would use a system to register the fingerprints of voters in the province to prevent electoral fraud, due to reports of Paraguayan nationals crossing the border into Argentina to vote in Formosa.

Insfrán was re-elected in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023.

Boudougate

On March 30, 2015, Carlos Rívolo, federal prosecutor in the Ciccone Case, also known as Boudougate, asked Judge Sebastian Casanello to investigate the participation of Insfrán as well as various other persons, including Vice President Amado Boudou, in a maneuver related to the restructuring of the public debt of the province of Formosa with the help of a shell company called The Old Fund.[4][5]

Allegations of corruption

Insfrán has been called head of a "mafia clan." A 2014 article was headlined: "Who is Gildo Insfrán? - biography of a corrupt man" stated: "Since the return of democracy, only one man in the entire country has managed to stay at the highest pinnacle of power: Gildo Insfrán." During his years in power, many of his associates have risen from poverty to great wealth, according to charges made by one lawyer, Juan Eduardo Davis. "Corruption is manifested in the executive branch, in the municipalities, in the police. It is rare to find [government employees in the province] who have not used their positions to enrich themselves."[6]

The province of Formosa under Insfrán has been described as a feudal state in which "his men" run every municipality; it has been compared to the province of Tucumán under José Alperovich.[6] In this poorest province in Argentina, according to one source, those who have grown rich through government connections "shamelessly flaunt their wealth."[7] The investigative reporter Jorge Lanata traveled to Pozo del Tigre, Formosa, in 2014 and reported that "those who do not support the mayor of the town have no access to water."[6]

In April 2011, national deputy Adrián Pérez visited Formosa and said that in the province there was no separation of powers, no administrative transparency, no citizen control, no independent judiciary, no press freedom, and massive corruption. Instead of being treated like citizens with rights and obligations, he said, people in Formosa are part of a "scheme of submission" whereby the government politically and financially exploits poverty.[8]

"The intimate relationship of justice to political power is shameless," said Juan Eduardo Davis.[7] In the province, "neither the largest newspapers nor the television report serious events" that reflect negatively on the government because they are dependent on government advertising.[7]

A 2012 report stated that infant mortality in the province was 18 per thousand, that 20% of households had no refrigerators, 16% cooked with firewood or charcoal, and 74% had no computer. Merit Antonio Ferreyra, Insfrán's chief of staff, "owns the entire state and private health system," including all of the ambulances in the province.[7] The infant mortality rate in Formosa is the highest in Argentina.[6] Two-thirds of the employed individuals in Formosa work for the state. Forty-one percent of households have no running water; 31% lack electricity.[1]

Drug trafficking

Insfrán has been accused of turning the province of Formosa into "a privileged sanctuary for drug traffickers" bringing cocaine into Argentina.[6] The province has the highest density of narcotics per square meter in Argentina.[7] Under his authority, the province has allegedly experienced a "total lack of control on drug trafficking," which, according to Davis, has been a major source of revenue for the province. Police and security forces have been accused of colluding with traffickers by guarding airstrips at which planes carrying drugs have landed and been unloaded.[6] Hugo Palma, a politician in Estanislao del Campo, Formosa, had an airstrip on his property where 700 kilos of cocaine were seized from drug traffickers.[7]

Treatment of indigenous people

Among indigenous people in Argentina, Formosa is seen as place of "repression and constant harassment." An Amnesty International report on the indigenous people of Formosa outlined "the systematic violation of human rights, the dispossession of ancestral lands, structural poverty and political-state apparatus that marginalizes and coerces indigenous peoples." The general perception is reportedly that under Insfrán's authority, the life or death of an indigenous person is not equivalent to the life or death of a white person.[6]

Kirchner connection

Once a Menem supporter, Insfrán became a "K" politician early on; he was "the first governor to support Néstor Kirchner." As a Kirchnerist, as one source put it, "he has institutionalized due obedience." It has been said that "Kirchner is Insfrán, Insfrán is Kirchner."[6] "Behind the progressive discourse," national deputy Adrián Pérez has said, "Kirchner exercises his royal power" through such "authoritarian and conservative" figures as Insfrán.[8] President Cristina Fernández, like her husband before her, is close to Insfrán and has showered him with "lavish government funds."[7]

Insfrán, for his part, named a major street in the city of Formosa Avenida Doctor Néstor Carlos Kirchner.[7]

Personal life

Insfrán has two daughters with Teresa Baldus, Sofia and Gianninna. The couple also had a son, Gildo Miguel Insfrán, who committed suicide on August 5, 2003, at the age of seventeen. He shot himself in the right temple with a 9mm pistol. The motive for the suicide has never been publicly clarified.[6][9]

References

  1. ^ a b Werner, Ruth (Dec 2, 2010). "Gildo Insfrán es kirchnerista y Formosa también es Argentina". PTS.
  2. ^ "Denuncian la corrupción y la inequidad en Formosa". Clarin. Aug 19, 2012.
  3. ^ guauformosa.com.ar. "Encuesta: El formoseño no tiene intenciones de cambiar su voto para Gobernador e Intendente | Guaú Formosa". www.guauformosa.com.ar. Retrieved 2023-05-18.
  4. ^ "Pidieron la indagatoria de Amado Boudou y Gildo Insfrán por el contrato con Formosa". La Nacion. Mar 30, 2015.
  5. ^ "Vandenbroele presentó un escrito y no respondió preguntas en el caso por el sospechoso contrato con Formosa". La Nacion. Apr 8, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Quien es Gildo Insfrán? - biografia de un corrupto". Taringa!.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "El narco-feudal-kirchnerismo en Formosa". Plaza de Mayo. Aug 1, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "En Formosa sólo se percibe corrupción, reelección indefinida y pobreza inducida". CompactoNEA. Apr 19, 2011. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  9. ^ "Conmocionó la muerte del hijo de un gobernador 5-08-03" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
Preceded byVicente Joga Governor of Formosa 1995–present Incumbent
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Gildo Insfrán
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