President Returns With Cabinet Reshuffle

New Minister of Economy, Axel Kicillof (photo:Wikimedia commons)

New economy minister, Axel Kicillof (photo:Wikimedia commons)

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s return to work yesterday after a 45-day absence was marked by key changes to the cabinet. Presidential spokesperson, Alfredo Scoccimarro, made the announcement from the Casa Rosada, just one hour after President Fernández’s first message was relayed via a video on You Tube.

The reshuffle will see the current governor for Chaco, Jorge Capitanich, take over as the new cabinet chief, replacing Juan Manuel Abal Medina. Capitanich was elected as governor of the province of Chaco in 2007, with a narrow win over the Radical candidate, Angel Rozas, and in 2011 he was re-elected with over 66% of the vote. On both occasions he ran as the leader of the Frente Chaco Merece Mas party, an alliance of various parties around the Peronist Partido Justicialista.

Capitanich is an experienced politician. At age 22 he was the secretary of the Peronist governor of Chaco, Danilo Baroni. From there, he continued to climb the political ladder, and in 2001 he became a senator. In 2002, in the midst of the economic crisis, he became the head of the cabinet in the interim government of Eduardo Duhalde.

Capitanich has been a faithful Kirchnerist since the election of Nestor Kirchner in 2003 and his is one of the names circulating as potential presidential candidates for the 2015 elections.

Scoccimarro went on to announce that Axel Kicillof will replace Hernán Lorenzino as economy minister. Kicillof is 42 years old and has a doctorate in Economics from the University of Buenos Aires. Before taking over from Lorenzino he was the national secretary of economic policy, planning and development within the Economy Ministry. Prior to this, he was the assistant director of Aerolíneas Argentinas after its renationalisation.

Kicillof has already played an important role from within the Economy Ministry, often more prominent than Lorenzino in key domestic policies. In 2012, he was heavily involved in the expropriation of YPF, stating at the time that “the aim of the Spanish shareholders was to generate profits for their headquarters without investing a cent in the company”. He also participated in the reform of the Charter of the Central Bank of Argentina, and, more recently, the creation of the housing program Pro.Cre.Ar.

Lorenzino, meanwhile, will become the Ambassador for Argentina within the European Union and also the head of the new Executive Committee for Debt Restructuring. Lorenzino became economy minister when President Fernández began her second term in December 2011. Prior to this he was Finance Secretary, he oversaw the second restructuring of Argentina’s defaulted debt in 2010 and has been heavily involved in the national strategy to defend against vulture funds.

In other changes, Carlos Casamiquela, the current president of the INTA (National Institute of Farming Technology) will replace Norberto Yauhar as the agriculture minister. Casamiquela is an agronomist who graduated form the University of La Plata, who between 2003 and 2009 was the vicepresident of Senasa, the organisation for food health and safety.

Finally, Scoccimarro announced that Juan Carlos Fábrega, president of Banco Nación, had been appointed as president of the Central Bank, taking over from Meredes Marcó del Pont. Fábrega, 64, who has worked for more than 40 years in the Banco Nación, became its president in 2010. He is currently also the president of the Association of Public and Private banks (Abappra) and the Centre of Economics and Finance for National development (CEFID-AR) amongst other activities. He will be acting head of the Central Bank until the Senate confirms the Executive’s decision.

Replacing Fábrega as head of the Banco Nación is Juan Ignacio Forlon. Trained as a lawyer, Forlón began working as an advisor to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner when she was a senator. In 2010 he was promoted to president of Nación Seguros, a national insurance consulting company.

The newly-appointed cabinet members will be inaugurated into their new roles today at 7pm in the Casa Rosada.

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As a possible ‪Grexit‬ looms in the old continent, we revisit Marc Rogers' article comparing Greece's current situation to Argentina's own 2001-2 crisis.

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