Buenos Aires – Franco Rinaldi, the top PRO candidate for the City Legislature, dramatically resigned from the race on Thursday amid huge controversy over previous homophobic, xenophobic and antisemitic statements.
According to a post on social media explaining his decision, Rinaldi’s decision to step down was taken in order not to harm PRO mayoral hopeful Jorge Macri.
Rinaldi was heading Macri’s ballot and he thanked the City government minister and ex-Vicente López mayor for his trust. Dropping out of the race meant he would no longer be a “burden for his [Macri’s] campaign,” explained the disabled aviation expert.
“This has got too complicated and I want to spare my family and not mess anybody up, least of all Jorge Macri, who I do not doubt will be an extraordinary mayor. So as not to harm him and all the team who trusted in me, I herewith resign my candidacy for City Legislature,” stated the political scientist, while admitting that it hurt him to have to quit.
Rinaldi blasted the attacks against him as “unfair, opportunistic, contrived and with the sole aim of damaging a rival list.”
“I’ve already said what I thought of those video clips and apologised. It offends me profoundly when they say I’m homophobic or antisemitic, nothing can be further from the truth, but I can do no more. These are major attacks constructed with a lot of money which will have to be explained one day,” underlined Rinaldi.
The resignation of his candidacy came after a new controversy burst forth last Thursday. In a video that circulated online, which was not recorded recently, Rinaldi referred to the Página/12 newspaper as “Sinagoga 12,” once again sparking controversy following homophobic comments that came to light the previous week.
“It seems to me that I’ve seen some article about it in the newspaper Sinagoga 12 as [the extreme rightist Peronist] Guillermo Patricio Kelly used to call Página/12,” said Rinaldi in the video.
Pressure on Macri to cut Rinaldi from the list had grown in recent weeks. A few days previously, figures from the Unión Civica Radical (UCR) had asked the Electoral Board of Juntos por el Cambio in the city to cut the pre-candidate from the list as a result of his “homophobia and discrimination.”
A formal request was made last Friday (July 7) by the head of the UCR in Buenos Aires City, Mariela Coletta, in response to a video compilation of Rinaldi’s most controversial moments during live Twitter broadcasts.
“We either kill the morochos or let them do what they want,” was just one of the phrases that sparked attention. In another section, Rinaldi refers to the Villa 31 shantytown and suggests “flamethrowers” be deployed to solve the “complicated situation.”
The remarks in the video were also repudiated by Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, one of the opposition coalition’s leading candidates for the presidency.
Rinaldi was initially defiant and said he refused to be “cancelled” for his controversial streams, which he defended as comedy. However, the new videos of his making anti-Semitic remarks reignited the firestorm with the legislative hopeful forced to finally admit that it is “too much to ask Jorge to support me.”
In his post explaining his decision, Rinaldi vowed to continue his “fight for freedom and the Constitution.”
“I will continue to fight, as I have done all my life,” he concluded.
It emerged earlier this week that judicial officials in Buenos Aires have opened an investigation to determine if Rinaldi had committed a crime, such as promoting discrimination.