2/5/2024 - Politics and Society

CABA and its autonomy, still without true union

By Valentín Olavarría

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Imagen de portada

" The city of Buenos Aires will have a self-government regime with its own faculties of law and jurisdiction (...)”, Article 129 of the National Constitution of 1994. However, for 30 years, this obligation has not been fulfilled in full.The search for CABA of a regime itself is not new, has more than two centuries. In 1776 the Borbones installed there the capital of the Virreinato of the Río de la Plata and in 1880 decided to federalize and capitalize the city. It was only in 1996 that the City of Buenos Aires reached its own Constitution and acceptance of autonomy by the national government. However, the reality of its autonomy is still an inconclusive fact.Three decades later, CABA continues to talk to a wall. Rights are granted in the roles, but not in the concrete. Then we raise some of them, illustrating that their irresolution has concrete effects on the life of the porteños (and of the Argentines, obviously). These are the coparticipation funds, the national esros, the Porto, the collective lines, the Retiro Terminal, the health portfolio and services such as light and water.

The Funds of the Federal Tax Coparticipation

From the federalization of the City of Buenos Aires in 1880, all the co-participation laws established that the Nation should dare to this money jurisdiction of its own percentage. Thus, over the years the city was not a concrete part of the distribution of federal tax co-participation. In addition, Law No 23,548 of 1988, currently in force, specifies this in its eighth article.As noted, the co-participation law is prior to the autonomy of the CABA, so it does not take into account its new constitutional character (and thus the expansion of its powers). Thus, the different national governments have been modifying the percentage referred to the CABA over the years.Many begin the discussion in the national government of 2015-2019 when co-participation increased from 1.4% to 3.75% and then decreased to 3.5%. In the course of this, skills were added to the city, such as the police. By 2020, the national government 2019-2023 collected the funds, transferring the number to 1.4%. In view of this, the GCBA imposed an amparo on the CSJN, which time later had the Nation a precautionary measure (i.e. that the decision is not definitive). It is an obligation for the national government to grant annually 2.95% of co-participation to the city.Despite the failure of the CSJN, the measure was not reached by Nation, which remains 1.4% of the co-participation of the CABA. Both Alberto Fernández and Javier Milei (both Portuguese), who in his speech of 20 November 2023, after winning the elections, said he would “honor the commitments”, do not comply with the decision of the country’s highest court of justice. However, although today does not reach, a few days ago there were talks and meetings between the GCBA and the PEN on the subject.It is important to note that the National Constitution of 1994 provided in Article 75(2) that “there will be no transfer of competences, services or functions without the respective reappointment of resources, approved by Congress law when it corresponds and by the interested province or the city of Buenos Aires in its case”. In addition, the transitional clause 13 of the reinsurance CABA Constitution is concerned. Consequently, no transfer of powers may persist without the budgetary transfer.On its effects in reality, there are several questions: how can CABA achieve plans without economic forecasting? Is it feasible so long for a CSJN failure on such an urgent matter as economic funds in a crisis country?

National justice in the CABA

In the country, justice is both federal and local. In other words, there are exclusionary themes of the Judiciary of the Nation (such as conflicts between provinces, among others) and other provincial judicial powers. Although this is true, there is a third alternative: national justice. This alludes to justice within the federalized territories, that is, the sovereignty of the nation. One of the most emblematic cases was the Land of Fire, which until 1991 was considered judicially national territory.Now, national justice has extinguished in these territories less in the CABA. Certain errors still survive that were not transferred to the local judicial power (such as the work).After the constitutional reform of 1994, National Senator Antonio Cafiero proposed the creation of Law 24.588 which “securs the interests of the national state in the city of Buenos Aires”. This was an explicit request from the 1994 National Constitution in Article 129: “A law will guarantee the interests of the national state while the city of Buenos Aires is the capital of the nation.” In the so-called Cafiero Law, CABA capabilities are largely limited, by which many of its articles have been modified and others considered by analysts as unconstitutional.Moreover, it seems to be that this theme is on the agenda of the current national government, although not in a priority due to the fact that it was taken from the Bus Law the full chapter of the transfer of national justice to justice.The lack of transfer of judicial powers directly affects the port neighbors how can a national justice be equal to the present that a local justice? How can you understand your problems, concerns and dynamics? How does it accelerate the times and effectiveness of justice at the service of the local community? Why should all Argentines pay with their taxes a justice that acts on common themes of the city?


Currently, the public transport service is not fully transferred to CABA. Although the subts are of the competence of the local government, still the collectives (32 lines) that transit exclusively the city are of the competence of the national government.In turn, Law No. 26,740 of 2012, promulgated during the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is being fulfilled. In its second article, it is stated that it is up to the CABA “to carry out in an exclusive way the competence and supervision of public passenger transport services at the underground and pre-metro level; of motor and tram transport whose provision corresponds to the territory of the CABA”.In the last time, and especially today due to the promises of fiscal cut, the collectives of national competence were the point of multiple criticisms. From provinces asking for subsidies to be withdrawn by inequality with the interior to increases in tickets.Moreover, the lack of transfer of public transport services involves problems for citizenship and the government itself, does not complement the coordination of transport in the city if the GCBA has to be in constant negotiations for the change of a stop or deviation of a route with the Nation? How can a government focus on the collectives in a particular district? Does it not cause problems that the rise of a collective ticket is “sculp” of the Nation? How can you think of urban design and public space without having authority over one of the main services that use ports?

The Port of Buenos Aires, public services, health portfolio and others

In addition to those mentioned, there are other themes that still drill the autonomy of CABA.First of all is the Port of Buenos Aires, place in dispute for centuries by the great economic-productive functions it has. However, the port has been in port territory and currently in intervention for decades by AGP. Therefore, currently the GCBA cannot make use of its benefits as provinces do.Law No 24,093 of Port Activities of 1992 indicates that “at the request of the provinces and/or the City of Buenos Aires Prefecture, in whose territories are ports of ownership and/or administered by the national state, and through the procedure determining the regulation, the Executive Branch will transfer them free of charge, the domain and the port administration”. However, in the regulation of the law, mention was particularly observed to the municipality, today CABA.In addition, the 1996 CABA Constitution itself provides in several articles (8, 80 and 104) that the port administration is of local competence.Other examples are the possibility of transferring the electricity and water services that at CABA have a national character. For example, the concessions and subsidies of Edesur and Edenor or even the use of Aysa at national level for the cloacal administration and other matters in the city. You should not forget the transfer of the health portfolio or the Retiro Terminal.In short, although this article does not express legal purposes (ni specializes in this), it is a way of incorporating into the thematic public agenda that needs to be resolved or at least formulate a definition.The question of the autonomy of the CABA is not a minor matter, but it is essential for the country's political organization, because they not only carry people, but also the history of agreements and conflicts. To cure the country can also start here, respecting and respecting the National Constitution.

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valentin olavarria

Valentín Olavarría

Hi, I'm Valentín Olavarría. I have a degree in Political Science (UCA). Founder of the blog La Argentina Joven. va.olavarria@gmail.com

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