Vote for uniformed officers of the public force sank in the first debate

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Minister Iván Velázquez affirmed that the Armed Forces and the National Police are hierarchical institutions in which higher commands could directly influence the decisions of the commands lower

Vote for uniformed officers of the public force sank in the first debate

The Minister of Defense pointed out that it is not convenient to approve the vote for uniformed officers in the current circumstances, since the possibility of exercising the vote could fracture the structure of the Public Force. Photo: Ministry of Defense.

In the last minutes, in the First Commission of the Senate of the Republic, the bill that sought to allow the suffrage of the uniformed members of the public force sank, with 9 votes out of 10, in the first and only debate.

During his intervention in the debate, the Defense Minister, Iván Velásquez, pondered that the political neutrality of the Armed Forces and the National Police must be the guarantors of democracy.

< blockquote class="color_figcaption">“We must guarantee the neutrality of the public force because it is a guarantee for democracy. In the current circumstances, the fact that members of the Public Force do not have the right to vote is a guarantee for democracy for all movements, political parties and candidates. We believe that this possibility of exercising the vote could fracture the structure of the Public Force, which is so essential in the exercise of its activities,” the minister stressed.

Likewise, Minister Velázquez affirmed that the Armed Forces and the National Police are hierarchical institutions in which higher commands could directly influence the decisions of lower commands.

“Many affirm that it is dangerous that in these circumstances the military could assume partisan positions. This issue should be reviewed in the context of convenience or not for democracy and transparency. In such a hierarchical structure, with such marked influence from the top down, which also has the legitimate use of weapons, it could eventually become illegal,” said Velásquez.

The head of the Defense Portfolio also highlighted the discipline, hierarchy and compliance with orders by the uniformed officers in the framework of fulfilling their constitutional mission.

“A public force, particularly the Military Forces, with such a disciplined structure and with a hierarchy that imposes obedience on the entire structure, in matters of this nature, the obligation of obedience would not apply, but there is no doubt that the hierarchy has a significant weight. very important and substantial in all the functioning of these institutions”, he pointed out.

It is worth noting that the project, which had been presented by a sector of the Conservative Party headed by Senator Germán Blanco, sought to modify article 219, which reads:

“The public force is not deliberate; may not meet except by order of legitimate authority, nor direct petitions, except on matters related to the service and morality of the respective body and in accordance with the law. Members of the public force may not exercise the function of suffrage while they remain in active service, nor intervene in activities or debates of political parties or movements.”

The Defense Minister also pointed out that it is a complex issue, “on the one hand there is the right of every citizen to vote, but there is a parallel circumstance that makes it inadvisable. Total Peace is an aspiration. We are not at Peace; There are various conflicts and intertwined violence in the country. Due to the characteristics of the Public Force, (the high ranks) could end up influencing the eventual vote of the subordinates”, he said.

For his part, The President of Congress, Senator Roy Barreras, pointed out, in the same address as Minister Velásquez, that it is not yet time for a project of this nature.

“Not yet. I hope total peace advances so that we also have total universal vote. At this time we need the Public Forces not to take sides; it is very important that they remain independent. Along with progress towards total peace, a strong hand must be present,” said Senator Barreras, as quoted on Caracol Radio.