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ARGENTINA | 16-07-2019 16:38

Rights groups decry volunteer youth 'civil service'

Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel lambasts the Macri government: 'Democratic values are built in public schools'.

The Mauricio Macri government wants unemployed and out-of-school youth to join a volunteer youth civil service.

The government on Tuesday published a decree in the Official Gazette announcing the creation of the "Volunteer Civil Service of Values" corp for youths "aged 16 to 20". The corp will be coordinated by the country's Gendarmerie.

The announcement, following two years of consultation according to the Security Ministry, prompted sharp criticism from the country's human rights community.

At a press conference at Government House, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich confirmed "the education team of the Security Minister, led by Juan Carlos Pugliese, will be present at all time".

"Parents often struggle with their children and they don't know how to contain them", Bullrich explained.

However, Nobel Peace prize winner lamented the decision, saying it was "more than a smokescreen. This government is taking a huge step backward in the rights of citizens. This is military service in disguise".

"Democratic values are built in public schools. Democracy is in crisis with the Macri government. It's doing the opposite of instilling democratic values. They want to put these at risk", he told FM La Patriada.

For her part, lawyer at the CORREPI anti-police violence institute María del Carmen Verdú complained the government was trying to "indoctrinate poor youths".

"In the face of a rise in poverty and destitution, the government responds with its repressive agencies, while at the same time continuing to cut and eliminate welfare programmes aimed at the youth (and most poor among them)", Verdú wrote on her Twitter account.

Candidate for the Lower House Orfelia Fernández agreed, describing the decision as "scandalous".

"What does the government want to do with the youth? Quality education? No, the budget keeps falling year after year, Progresar scholarships disappear. Dignified jobs? No, labour precariousness. And what do they want? To give us training with the Gendarmerie?", Fernández charged.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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