The vice-presidential candidate for President Mauricio Macri's Juntos por el Cambio coalition, Miguel Ángel Pichetto, has described Argentina as "sick” for allowing the re-entry of Vanessa Gómez Cueva, a Peruvian nurse who was deported in February after completing a four year sentence for drug-trafficking.
The senator for Río Negro was incredulous at the situation, criticising international NGOs for showing Gómez Cueva their support.
After a concerted push from international human rights group, Gómez Cueva has now been allowed to return to Argentina. The Peruvian was deported from Ezeiza airport last February, along with her infant son, under an expulsion order related to a 2014 conviction related to drug-trafficking. At the time, she was separated from her two other children, aged 6 and 14.
Rights group argue the Peruvian national had completed her jail sentence and had made efforts to rehabilitate herself by studying, training and working as a nurse.
“Argentina is sick; a drug-trafficking, criminal Peruvian woman was sentenced, completed her punishment and was expelled,” Pichetto said. “And now, as we’re humanitarian, good, we’re going to permit her to return so that she reunite with her older children here. This is bad. This is bad, and now the entire world is in solidarity with the Peruvian woman. It’s incredible.”
In July, artists and human rights activists united to call on the government allow Gómez Cueva to return to Argentina and reunite with her two children, who remained in the country after her deportation. When Gómez Cueva was deported earlier this year, immigration authorities reportedly threatened to deport her other infant child to Peru alone if she refused to comply with her own expulsion, forcing her board the plane.
“This woman sold drugs to children and destroyed families,” Pichetto added in an interview with Radio La Red. “I don’t know what international organisation pressured for this women to return.”
Support for Gómez Cueva’s return was lobbied for by Amnesty International, el Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), la Comisión Argentina para Refugiados y Migrantes (CAREF), y el Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL).
The comments by President Mauricio Macri’s vice presidential candidate is the latest in a long series of episodes demonising immigrants from Africa and other parts of Latin America.
“The country is full of Senegalese,” Pichetto once said. “Not one is is doing licit activity.”
On other occasions, Pichetto as decried Argentina’s “egalitarian culture” towards migrants and said foreigners that commit “minor crimes” should be “thrown out” of the country immediately.
During his radio interview, the senator also claimed that protesters associated with Argentina's social movements and labour groups "do not work," blaming them as "one of the causes of public indebteness."
President Mauricio Macri's partner on the ticket stressed that "the State makes an extraordinary effort" to support those less well-off.
– PERFIL / TIMES