The Minister of the Interior reveals the challenges in that State portfolio. She says that her appointment is a symbol because women in public space are judged more rigorously than men.
She coincides with President Moreno in betting on a democratic model. Her office is still impersonal and she remembers that it has been occupied by men: a huge desk and brown leather armchairs.
María Paula Romo, Minister of the Interior, spoke with this newspaper about the management of that State portfolio and the policy that led her to accept this position in this Government. She is the third Minister in 16 months of Lenin’s Government.
Why do you think it has been difficult to keep the other secretaries of state?
This ministry is not simple. It has complexity issues. Prime Minister César Navas came out as a result of his attrition by handling the crisis of the kidnapping and murder of El Comercio journalists. Minister Toscanini said that this city did not fit him for his health and he returned to the academy.
How did you find the Ministry?
We have some adjustments in administrative issues, budget execution.
Speaking of Toscanini, he said that crimes have decreased by 14.4%. Are these figures confirmed?
There is a balanced scorecard that the Police has and we can see the evolution of the crimes in each territory, with figures updated every day. In the dynamics of crime, we must be very careful in how the results are communicated. The decrease in figures does not always correspond to the fact that a crime does not exist. While there is a crime, a murdered person, a missing person, it is very difficult to try to reflect the success in the management. The figures that are favorable are reversed in one day.
In the previous administration the Emilia Alert was created. How does this progress?
It is one of the most important issues that have been made in the Ministry of the Interior in recent years. It is an integrated response between the Police and the Office of the Prosecutor to search immediately for children reported missing. Before they demanded to wait 48 hours, which was the most valuable time. Today the Emilia Alert is activated and Facebook can identify the place where the child was last seen to put their photos there. This is an excellent example of how technology, cooperation of agencies and the private sector allows an early warning system in these cases.
There are 4,111 complaints of sexual abuse of children and adolescents. What is your plan for this?
It is necessary to have special protocols and procedures to respond to sensitive issues, such as this one. There is a process underway to work jointly with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office. In Legal Medicine it is established how the evidence is processed to find the culprits. We are building around an emblematic case: Valentina’s. The girl was returned dead to her parents in a school. Many times this is related to the investigation that is carried out to find the culprits. This Ministry will put all its efforts into this and will strengthen the Dinapen, the police specialized in these crimes, and in addressing the issue of children and adolescents. The CEDHU counted 54 femicides until July.
How are you going fight a structural problem of violence against women?
Each femicide is regrettable. While there is one, we cannot succeed. But this year the figures are lower than those of 2017. There is a strong job of becoming aware and other sectors are involved: the public, the academy, the press. We have an early warning program in Quito that has worked well. The Ministry of the Interior is committed to the political lieutenants, who are responsible for issuing protective measures in these cases. But the central issue of the Ministry is the Police. In these days of management there are those who have confused the announcement of priorities with the idea of forgetting the central theme of this Ministry, which is the Police and the fight against crime and crime. We are not going to allocate 40 thousand policemen to sexual crimes or to violence against women that has provoked some macho comments.
In the fight against drug trafficking, it was questioned as a loss of sovereignty. Is it like that?
The Government’s policy is not to cede sovereignty to other countries. Nor allow transnational crime to operate freely in our country. Defending our territories and maintaining control over them is a matter of sovereignty. To achieve this, the Government is willing to cooperate in all agreements.
The ex-President Correa ordered to eliminate his political organization?
We were a threat because critical voices bothered him. He could not accuse us of being on the right, nor of being corrupt. We were a kind of conscience that reminded him of who he was resembling. He did not forgive us and applied all the strength of the State against us.
Do you not regret having formed a part of correismo after what we see today?
The government of Correa has been disastrous for the country. The affectation to the economy, to the institutionality, to the democracy, to the relation of coexistence of the citizens has a very negative balance. We made the decision to support that government but also to leave when it was very popular. That’s why they have received a lot of criticism … At a certain moment, 80% of the country came to support Correa. And if we dedicate ourselves to stone everyone who supported him, we will not have anyone to talk to.
What do you like about President Moreno and why did he accept this position?
The President chose to tell the truth. He could have chosen another way: that of continuity, of comfort, of evading reality. I believe that telling us the truth, when we came from a time of concealment, of propaganda, of disguising things, is an indispensable effort for the country and democracy. The great sign of him was to say the true situation of the country and to bet on a democratic model. That is something with which I agree.
Some say that in Moreno’s government there are still people faithful to Correa. Is it a contradiction?
I think there is a kind of signal: “who was with Correa is vetoed from politics and democracy without distinction.” I think the division has to be between those who acted ethically and those who did not.
What is it like to be the head of an institution made up of a majority of men?
It is part of the challenges, for now it is a message and a very important and significant symbol. It is a great responsibility because women in the public space judge us with more rigor than men. (I)