Lawmaker wants referendum on province of Mendoza's independence from Argentina

 Deputy José Luis Ramón Tuesday announced he would submit a bill to Congress to hold a referendum in his native province of Mendoza so that its citizens can decide whether they want to remain a part of Argentina.

First to harbour such ideas was former Mendoza Governor Alfredo Cornejo, who currently heads the opposition Civic Radical Union (UCR) party, now blended into the Together For Change (Juntos por el Cambio - JxC) coalition of former President Mauricio Macri.

“We intend to round up Cornejo's separatist ideas,” said Ramón through a statement. “Our force is convinced that being Mendoza is an identity by itself, but that it is contained on the basis of national patriotism.”

Ramón insisted that “those who must decide whether Mendoza is Argentine or not, must be the people of Mendoza.” He called for the self-appointed “owners” of the province to stop speaking on behalf of ordinary citizens and face up to their decision.

Cornejo had also said that his province has to “seriously consider its autonomy” because the federal government sought to “harm” it.

Ramón's referendum would nonetheless be non-binding and should it be approved and turn out in favour of the “Mendoxiteers” it would by no means led to the automatic separation of the wine-producing province from the rest of the country.

Ramón intends to have this question voted on by this year's elections, which are likely to be postponed for a month or two in view of the coronavirus pandemic. Rumours circulated Tuesday that there was political consensus for such a delay but Cornejo was among the first opposition leaders to deny such an agreement through his Twitter account.

Ramón, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2019, belongs to the provincial Protectora Fuerza Pública party, which is represented on the federal Congress but has no relevance in voting districts other than Mendoza.

Cornejo had made his separatist statements in mid-2020 during a conflict regarding the Portezuelo del Viento electricity development, a project launched in 2018 by Macri and which would supply energy, in addition to Mendoza, to the provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Río Negro and Neuquén.

According to the rules of the Interjurisdictional Committee of the Colorado River (Coirco), if proposals are not approved by all members, it is up to the President to act as arbitrator and Alberto Fernández voted against Cornejo's stance.

At the time and based on the UK's Brexit model, Cornejo had mentioned that his region “has everything to live as an independent country.”

Cornejo blames Fernández for acting “out of malice” and with the sole objective of “harming Mendoza.”

The UCR leader Tuesday ratified his position in in a radio interview: “There is a movement in Mendoza and Córdoba. They are leaders of the private sector who believe that Argentina infects them, that it is useless to do things well in the provinces because macroeconomic conditions are imposed. In this context, there are people who propose to become autonomous,” he said.



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