Tuesday, March 28

Alberto Fernndez fires his Economy Minister three weeks after appointing her and hands over control of the government to Sergio Massa


Massa will be in charge of a macro ministry in which Economy, Production and Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will merge

Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina.LUIS ROBAYOAFP
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the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernndez, He gave a rudder this Thursday to get his government out of the deepening crisis in which it is sunk: the head of state fired his Minister of Economy, Silvina Batakis, whom he had appointed just three weeks ago, and he appointed Serge Massa, until today president of the Chamber of Deputies, as “super minister”.

The “super minister” is not an exaggeration: Massa will be in charge of a macro ministry in which Economy, Production and Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing. It will also have control of the relationship with multilateral credit organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Fernndez “decided to reorganize the economic areas of his cabinet for better functioning, coordination and management,” says the official statement from the Argentine presidency, which avoids acknowledging the obvious: Massa becomes the strong man of the government, almost a prime minister who overshadows the president himself.

Until today the owner of the Lower House of Congress had long sought to assume control of the runaway Argentine economy, a country that saw the peso devalue 40 percent in July and inflation soar to rates close to 90% per year. In fact, Fernndez was close to appointing him to that position in early July, after the abrupt resignation of the then minister, Martin Guzman.

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But the reluctance of the powerful vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and the indecisions of the president, led to the appointment of Silvina Batakis, an official without political weight who Fernndez made him live the most bitter experience of his career.

Batakis found out on the flight that was taking her from USA to Argentina that the president was deciding on his replacement. The minister came to appear before the IMF and the Treasury Department of the United States assuring that he had the full support of the ruling Peronism. It wasn’t like that, and this morning, when I got to Buenos Aires, he gave his resignation to the president, which ended up being accepted.

Massa, leader of the renovation front, a party of pan-Peronism, has historic presidential ambitions. His bet, in this case, is to become the man who managed to channel the Argentine economic disaster and thus become the candidate of all Peronism for the primary presidential elections of August 2023.

Massa, 50, was Fernndez de Kirchner’s chief of staff between 2008 and 2009. He later distanced himself from the former president, publicly threatening to put her in jail. Today they are part of the same government, and the vice president ended up giving the go-ahead so that, as of this Thursday, Massa is the man who does and undoes in the administration of the devalued Fernndez.

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