Argentina: Cristina Fernández’s first appearance announces Cabinet reshuffle


Cristina Fernández’s first appearance announces Cabinet reshuffle; Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno resigns


Cristina Fernández’s first appearance announces Cabinet reshuffle

President Cristina Fernández’s first public appearance after her convalescence was followed by an important Cabinet reshuffle, which reaffirmed her heterodox left-leaning economic policy.

Through an emphatic video posted on Twitter, Ms Fernández addressed the Argentine population on Wednesday 20 November for the first time since she underwent brain surgery on 8 October.

In an intimate setting with her dog on her lap, she looked rested and relaxed her mourning dress code, showing she had the strength to take on the job again.

Pursuing this same attempt to hide her weaknesses, she did not mention she would not be able to secure a third mandate in 2015 presidential elections.

Indeed, her party’s disappointing results in congressional elections on 27 October prohibit her from getting the majority required to change the constitutional restriction of two mandates.

This highly awaited discourse was broadcasted on Monday, before the first round of Cabinet changes were announced. Most importantly she promoted Axel Kicilof to Economy minister and replaced the Agriculture minister as well as the central bank director.

Mr Kicillof will replace Hernán Lorenzino at the head of the Economy Ministry, which ratified the current interventionist economic policies.

This 42-year-old former deputy economy minister and academic specialist of Marx and John Maynard Keynes  is known for planning the Argentine government’s expropriation of the energy company YPF from its former Spanish parent company Repsol.  His nomination has therefore been a source of concern for private investors.

Cristina Fernández’s Cabinet reshuffle also included the replacement of Norberto Yauhar by Carlos Casamiquela as an Agriculture minister.

Known as a serious farm technician very aware of the issues facing agricultural workers, Mr Casamiquela might improve the relationship between the government and the agriculture sector.

However, farmers will surely not see a change in interventionist policies which they believe wreck their profits and waste opportunities for the world’s No.3 soybean and corn supplier.

In addition, the former head of Banco de la Nación Argentina and close friend of her deceased husband Néstor Kirchner, Juan Carlos Fabrega was named central bank chief, replacing Mercedes Marcó del Pont.

This reshuffle confirms Cristina Fernández’s left-leaning economic tendency, which does not reassure private and foreign investors.

However Argentines’ main concern is the escalating inflation and the new government’s ability to tackle this issue. Kicillof has not yet mentioned the problem, which does not seems to change from his predecessor, who has been presenting false data for the past mandate.

Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno resigns

The Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno resigned on Tuesday, which could foreshadow a change in economic policy.

Known for his tough negotiation skills with foreign firms and his deformation of inflation data, Mr Moreno has been a very controversial figure during President Cristina Fernández’s mandate.

Mr Moreno’s falsification of inflation data pushed the International Monetary Fund to censure Argentine in 2013 for failing to deliver accurate inflation and Gross Domestic Product data. He is now being prosecuted for “abuse of authority”.

As one of his main tasks was to control prices so they would stay low, economists are now afraid his departure will trigger a sudden jump in inflation, estimated at 25% annually.

His resignation will take effect on 2 December, and no one has yet been chosen to replace him.