In this article, the author explains her ordeal with filing a complaint against a noisy bar across the street from her residence in Buenos Aires. Nothing happened. Next, an inquiry to the bar's operating license was filed under the city's 1998 acces to information law. The city said the bar was a "teaching institute, techinal institute [or] academy." Just days after the city's reply, a fire broke out in a different dance club, República Cromañón, killing 193 people. Seizing the opportunity for reform, the author's partner wrote to the Clarin, a widely-read daily publication. His letter to the editor highlighted the public safety implications of corruption and championed democratic efforts to get involved in regulating license verification. The ensuing media attention promped the city government to crack down on bars and safety regulations, but the story stands as a testament to how freedom of information laws can actually help government be more effective through citizen engagement.
In August 2012, the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ) made a request to access information from the National Commission for Transport Regulation (CNRT), the Railway Infrastructure Administration (ADIF), and the Secretary of Transportation in order to learn more about the functions and responsibilities of these organizations following the Sarmiento railroad accident on February 22, 2012. ADIF responded to ACIJ's request by saying that it does not have jurisdiction over the railway line in question. CNRT responded to ACIJ’s request on transportation responsibilities with a report detailing numerous economic sanctions and fees from CNRT to TBA, a dealership/concessionaire related to the Sarmiento and Mitre lines. In response to ACIJ’s question, “Did CNRT have any report on the risks that TBA and the way it ran its service?”, CNRT stated that the agency limited itself to inspections, reports, and penalties, but did not send any report proving this to be the case. Thus, ACIJ sent a new request for information to verify the response that was provided. The requests are demostrative of the ways in which revelations from freedom of information laws can help better inform public safety outcomes.
This article includes a summary of requests made by the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ) in 2012: 1) The first series of requests dealt with the February rail accident. ACIJ asked for information from the National Commission for Transport Regulation (CNRT), the Secretary of Transportation, Metrovías S.A., Ferrovías S.A.C., and Railways Infrastructure Administration. Metrovias has not responded, and nor has the Secretary of Transportation, despite asking for a 10 day extension. 2) ACIJ asked for information regarding the vice president and his management of the company Sudamericana, formerly Ciccone, and received a response from the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP). 3) ACIJ received no response from the Ministry of Transportation or the Ministry of Federal Planning regarding irregularities in the administration and supervision of the SUBE transportation card.