What we learned this week: Terror in NYC, Cabinet changes, Gils Carbó and Boudou

Key stories from the last seven days.

Citizens mourn a new terrorist attack.
Citizens mourn a new terrorist attack. Foto:Cedoc.

For the first time Argentines comprised the majority of victims of a major terrorist attack committed outside national territory. Five Rosario friends (Ariel Erlij, Hernán Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Hernán Mendoza and Diego Angelini) perished along with a Belgian woman and two US citizens after a Halloween hitand- run attack by Uzbekh extremist Sayfullo Saipov. Eight alumni of the same school celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation were cycling by the banks of the River Hudson when terror struck, killing five of them. A nation mourns.


Former Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno was banned from public office for life on top of a suspended 30-month prison sentence this week for using public funds to wage a propganda campaign against the Clarín Group media giant. Moreno was also ordered to reimburse the misallocated state funds, which came out of the Central Market budget and were estimated at 185,000 pesos.


Chubut Governor Mario Das Neves has died of cancer at the age of 66 in the middle of his third term and has been succeeded by his lieutenant-governor Mariano Arcioni who had been elected national deputy only nine days previously. Rising to political prominence under the 2002-3 caretaker presidency of Eduardo Duhalde, the lifelong Peronist was elected governor in 2003 and re-elected with a 74 percent vote in 2007 – throughout both terms he was a constant opponent of the Kirchner presidencies.


While the government victory in last month’s midterm elections left President Mauricio Macri broadly satisfied with his team, he still tweaked his Cabinet with a minor shuffle on Tuesday. Rural Society President Luis Miguel Etchevehere now replaces Ricardo Buryaile as Agro-industry Minister while Health Ministry official Adolfo Rubinstein was confirmed to succeed his previous boss Jorge Lemus, whose resignation had been requested by Macri the previous day. Buryaile now becomes ambassador to the European Union with Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña announcing the changes underlining the extreme importance of the negotiations for an EU-Mercosur agreement in order to make it seem less like a demotion. The dual change makes for a smoother shuffle in coalition terms because Rubinstein’s Radical loyalties make it easier for the senior partners in Macri’s Cambiemos (Let’s Change) ruling Alliance to digest the exit of Buryaile, also a Radical.

The rise of Etchevehere – not only as the head of the Rural Society but also as a relentless critic of Kirchnerite agricultural policies – probably would not have been possible before the midterms, given the strength of the opposition in the outgoing Congress.

On Monday, Macri sketched out the broad lines of the last two years of his term at a highprofile event at the Centro Culltural Kirchner. In a 43-minute speech Macri proposed the reduction of inflation, state spending and poverty all at the same time. He urged structural streamlining at all levels, including less bureaucracy and reducing the 3,000-plus trade unions as well as their 280 healthcare funds.


Having vowed to fight to the last against the persistent efforts of the Mauricio Macri administration to oust her in order to preserve the Independence of her office, Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbó presented her resignation last Monday for more or less the same reason – to save the office from being weakened by a reform bill planned by Macri’s strengthened numbers in Congress in order to hasten her exit. By leaving before being forced out, Gils Carbó was at least able to negotiate some of her terms with Justice Minister Germán Garavano via her lawyer León Arslanian. Thus she will be staying on for the rest of this year, enabling her to preside over an upcoming regional meeting of her Latin American colleagues.

The timing of the move was more surprising than the final outcome for an isolated official. Gils Carbó is facing a court case based on charges concerning the irregular purchase of her headquarters but two other factors probably contributed more toward hastening her departure – the government victory in last month’s midterms and a ruling by Judge Pablo Cayssials in the week after the elections excluding her from the list of officials who can only be constitutionally removed by impeachment, thus making her vulnerable to a simple majority in Congress. The leader of the Kirchnerite Justicia Legítima legal grouping (appointed under the CFK presidency in 2012) had long been at the top of Macri’s hit list since he saw her as the centre of the corruption charges against his administration via her control of proseuctors. Gils Carbó’s replacement is expected to take some time as it requires Upper House approval.


Former vice-president Amado Boudou has been detained on charges of illicit enrichment and money-laundering, on the orders of Judge Ariel Lijo, joining other members of the administration of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who are under arrest. Boudou also served as economy minister under the ex-head of state.


Former planning minister Julio De Vido endured his first week behind bars by turning up the heat on Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Claiming to be a political prisoner, he changed his Twitter bio to reflect he remains a national deputy that is “jailed without sentence.” De Vido, who this week was also formally accused in the Skanska corruption case, penned two letters in which he pledged his allegiance to Nestor Kirchner. One, titled “la mano en el fuego,” made reference to CFK’s sayings in a recent interview where, in reference to De Vido’s situation, she said she “wouldn’t take heat” for any of her former aides. De Vido let her former boss know he won’t go down alone. Meanwhile, Omar “the Horse” Suárez, a former union strongman who’s been behind bars for a year on racketeering charges, claimed he barely knew CFK and her acolytes. Back in 2012, the former president said that “the Horse” was one of her “favourite union leaders,” in an apparent jab at Hugo Moyano, head of the all-powerful CGT union. Suárez led the Maritime Workers Union (SAMU) since 1992 and has been in prison for a year after Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral accused him of leading an illicit organisation that defrauded the union.