Pettovello failed to comply with a court order to deliver food to canteens. They had until this Friday to submit a distribution plan

While a group of officials, including President Javier Miley, came out in support of Minister Sandra Pettovello, who has not delivered food to community soup kitchens and picnic areas for almost six months, Judge Sebastián Casanello informed the Federal Chamber that the Ministry of Capital Humano had failed to comply with his order to present a “distribution plan” for 5.9 million kilograms of products “stored” in warehouses in Villa Martelli and Tucumán “based on the grouping of their type, quantity, expiration date and destination”, according to the notification. The magistrate had given them 72 hours, which expired yesterday, Friday morning. The only document presented is the one that contains the list of all the merchandise, its acquisition and expiration date, which revealed the existence of 339,867 kilos of powdered milk that expired in July, in addition to 40 kilos of rice with vegetables that expired in February, among other things.

What kind of distribution?

Capital Humano had announced in a statement that “a protocol is being implemented for the immediate delivery of food that is about to expire soon, through the Argentine Army, to guarantee fast and efficient logistics.” This was what Petovello advertised to calm the waters, while he was looking for strategies to focus the blame on a group of officials led by Pablo de la Torre, now former Secretary of Children, Adolescence and Family. The reality is that in court, where he should be held accountable for having cut the distribution of food to social organizations and for having stored shipments since the Libertarian government came to power, he did not present any documentation that explains how he will distribute it. According to Casanello’s order, he must distribute not only the milk that is about to expire, but also everything that is available, even if he does so in an orderly manner.

“Until the objective is achieved, I cannot celebrate. The truth is that the court’s decision is very clear, they had to present a delivery plan and they did not do so. The army can do the logistics, but the milk has to be given to the children. It’s not that easy, you have to know,” warned leader Juan Grabois (Argentina Humana), who offered his help, complaining in February that gave rise to a judicial case that compromises the management of Petovelo and promotes an injunction in the controversial jurisdiction. “You have to maintain a permanent flow in the dining rooms because a child who does not eat for two months is a child who cannot learn and food is something that is not discussed,” he explained as the hours passed: “These people do not see reason. It does not respect human beings or the law.’ “They continue to play with people’s hunger.”

The government, arguing that what is being discussed is not a judicial issue, had appealed against the resolution of Casanello, who accepted that appeal and made it clear that the measure ordered was not suspended. Chamber II of the Federal Chamber convened a hearing for next Wednesday. For this reason, the judge informed that court of the noncompliance, evaluating the other measures and making a clear and simple declaration of disobedience. The letter says verbatim: “There has been no compliance nor extension or suspension requested with respect to the measure ordered in point “II” of the resolution of May 27 of the current year – despite the presentation of the ‘distribution plan’ notified by the Ministry of Human Capital and after the expiration of the deadline given for its presentation, the food (storage) is still carried out taking into account its type, quantity, expiration date and destination group.”

This could cause trouble for Pettovello on the judicial front. The complaint – which is the civil association El Amanecer de los Cartoneros – requested that the minister be given a type of fine “estrintes” of 300,000 pesos for each day he disobeyed the court order. A group of religious people, including priests as an alternative to the poor Francisco “Paco” Olveira, demands that the minister resign.


From the very beginning, the government decided not to distribute food to soup kitchens in popular neighborhoods and to launch a campaign to publicly and criminally discredit the social movements that support these places. They don’t want them as intermediaries, they always said, and they held them responsible for the irregularities and called for an “audit” by Minister Pettovello. They went through various “arguments” to explain why they don’t deliver food to the organizations. First they accused them of using “ghost dining rooms” to profit. Beyond the misleading and distorted fact, do people go hungry without eating? When Pettovello said that those who are hungry should “come one by one”, it was clear that the strategy is to break up the organized poor and unemployed.

When? Pierce the veil Having discovered – as a result of a request for access to public information – that 5 billion kilos of food had been stored, to make matters worse, the speech changed: De la Torre – who is the brother of former Bullrichist Buenos Aires senator Joaquín de la Torre – said it was goods for emergencies and climate disasters. Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni joined that argument, even though he insisted that the issue was the minister’s disclosed audit. The list of stocked products delivered to Casanello makes it clear that the stock is different for those exceptional cases. Later, the government said that the food purchased by the previous government was of poor quality and contained large quantities of marijuana. Even the Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich, got involved: “Human capital does not save anything, what it does is prevent food from being stolen,” she said.

The matter became worse when Grabois reported in his report that the rice along with the vegetables had spoiled. In other words, in their desire to save the food, they started letting it rot.

Faced with this, De la Torre was the first to fall. Even the new Chief of Staff, Guillermo Francos, spoke on the issue and explained why he was removed. “From what the minister told me,” he said, “the information he gave him about these foods in the warehouses did not include that some had an expiration date, as in the case of powdered milk. When he learned that the powdered milk was expiring in July, Petovello ordered its immediate distribution and took action with the officer in charge, which led to his resignation. If this is taken as true, it would be worrying if the head of human capital, with all the uproar over this issue, does not know what food his ministry has, when the poverty rate is over 57% and more than 60% of boys, girls and adolescents suffer from food insecurity.

De la Torre was reported by the Ministry itself to the Anti-Corruption Office and a criminal complaint was also announced against him, but not for the food problem, but for the contracts through the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), an international organization that usually make agreements with different countries for specific projects through which experts are called from outside (although their common themes are education, science, culture). Doubts about the system were expressed by Nation and portals key data. The latter elaborated that this system would have been used to pay ministry personnel, either because their appointment had not been finalized or as a bonus. There are 18 people who would have billed fees of up to 1,400,000 pesos in this way.

The person who would have given the details is Federico Emanuel Fernández, director of administration of the Children’s Secretariat, who was investigated and would have tried to protect Pettovello. Other officials would have been displaced: Héctor Calvente, undersecretary of social policies, Esteban Bosch, director of emergencies, among others. The complaint also does not mention the delegation to the same OEI and the bidding and purchase by the current government of lentils and oil for dining rooms and picnic areas, for which 6,772,500,000 pesos have already been distributed from the state treasury. It bears the signature of Minister Pettovello. As this newspaper pointed out, the OEI takes a 5% commission and has no local control.

“number one”

“Without a doubt the best minister in the social sector since the return of democracy…” Miley called Pettovello in the morning to confirm that he was in the eye of the storm. Then the presidential spokesman, Manuel Adorni, expanded with complimentary words. “Clearly, Minister Pettovello is not only in the discussion for the president, but the president does not stop valuing him,” he added, as usual, slipping into criticism of the previous government and once again suggesting the stigmatization of suspicions about social organizations. “The official is number one and is giving everything in such a complex ministry and there are many things that we do not like, what has happened in recent years on social assistance, canteens, schemes, issues that were not working or lacked transparency,” the spokesperson stressed. “He is doing an incredible job so that help reaches and there is no one in the middle who grabs what is not his.” The incredible work is that so far food security, which is a key function of social capital, has not reached those who need it in half a year and the food intended for it is still stored.


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