The Freedom of Information Campaign in Argentina

14 October 2003

[See also “The Transparency Labyrinth in Argentina” by María Baron, 13 APRIL 2004]

Buenos Aires-based journalist Martha Farmelo reports for freedominfo.org on Argentina’s current campaign for a freedom of information law, which was passed in May 2003 by the lower house of the national congress and is now pending in the senate. Farmelo describes the workings of pioneer access laws in the city of Buenos Aires, the constructive role of the city ombudsman and the national Anti-Corruption Office, and lessons learned from the continuing campaign effort.

Download the entire report in Adobe PDF format:
The Freedom of Information Campaign in Argentina
(314 KB)


The Freedom of Information Campaign in Argentina
By Martha Farmelo
[Excerpt]

Imagine the desperation of a transplant patient who in 2001 stopped receiving essential medication from the public hospital she counted on for her survival-and was utterly unable to learn why. With help from the Ombudsman of the city of Buenos Aires, she and other transplant patients used the city’s freedom of information law to demand an explanation from the hospital. After reiterated requests, they learned that the hospital lacked the necessary funds-which allowed them to take appropriate legal action to reclaim that vital supply of medicines.

Imagine, too, the massive, pot-banging protests that precipitated the December 2001 resignations of President Fernando de la Rúa and seven-day President Adolfo Rodriguez Saá, who followed him. The unifying slogan that emerged during the uprisings was “¡Que se vayan todos!,” roughly “Out with all of them!,” meaning all politicians, quite literally. Indeed, widespread corruption and privilege among politicians left them so deeply discredited that for more than a year after the uprisings, only a handful could show their faces in public without being yelled at, even spat upon and otherwise chased away.

Sudden, unexplained shortages of transplant medicines and “¡Que se vayan todos!” describe some of the context in which Argentine advocates for freedom of information laws have operated in recent years. The city of Buenos Aires passed an excellent freedom of information law in December, 1998. A synergetic combination of politics, personal relationships and perhaps some degree of luck was at play when the lower house of the national Congress passed a similar law in May, 2003-the drafting of which was the result of an entirely novel process of collaboration between civil society and the executive branch.

Download the entire report in Adobe PDF format:
The Freedom of Information Campaign in Argentina
(314 KB)

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

Filed under: Latest Features