Axel Kicillof: "Cristina Is a Consultation Person; The Mayors And Máximo, Too" – 10/13/2019

Without Clarín turning on the recorder, Axel Kicillof starts talking only about the campaign. And he seeks to mark from the beginning a difference that he considers substantial with the governor María Eugenia Vidal, who won by almost 18 points in the PASO and, if he repeats the victory on October 27, it will happen between 2019 and 2023.

The former minister insists on his austere campaign, with his now famous Renault Clio. He admits that he sometimes transfers from another vehicle before starting the route, but marks distances with what he considers a “dirty campaign and empty promises of the ruling party. I go to the squares, I meet people, I listen to criticism. Now they are saying ‘productive revolution and salary’ if you vote for me again. ”

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– Productive revolution and salary? Is Macri's a variant of Menem's campaign?

– And I dont know. To me Macri walking the squares, it sounds all half odd. Without putting on a campanologist. I do not know. Campagnola broke, heh. All my childhood memories were broken by Macri. Bombucha now. The Boston … There's the contrast. My campaign is based on priorities, not promises based on focus groups. Do we want a primary country, with social exclusion and deindustrialization? Or a country with more inclusion, fairer? We come with priorities: production, work, health and education. Because they are rights. We need a government that doesn't tell you they are fantasies. The most affected of this marketing campaign was the middle class. Between Macri and Vidal they destroyed it economically.

– Regarding the criticisms made in the squares. A question that remained of its management is to have stopped spreading the poverty index. Do you write it down as a self-criticism?

– I believe that public statistics have to be credible. Now, you take any private or even public indicators, they give worse …

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– That's clear. But…

– (interrupts) You look at the data of the UCA. I am critical of that measurement and I said it as a minister, but if the measurement is taken well, one criticizes the value, not the variation.

– But the last measurement of poverty of the Indec of 2013 gave little more than 4 percent. And it stopped spreading. There is his phrase that "the poor were stigmatized." Is there no self-criticism with that?

– Yes, I think there were a number of things there. We modified the price index and when that index was modified, on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund, which is what we have today, there was a process to recalculate a lot of indexes, including poverty. What I was discussing, and there is the phrase of stigmatization, is something that this same government is saying today, that the poverty indicators are many, that income poverty is the simplest, but the least accurate. We must have indicators of multidimensional poverty.

Axel Kicillof, in his offices in downtown Buenos Aires, for the interview with Clarín (Emmanuel Fernández)

– Beyond the different statistics, what is clear is that no one resolved structural poverty. Isn't there a failure of all politics since the return of democracy?

– It's earlier. And it has to do with neoliberalism. That is when a deindustrialization process is created and you don't have to be any genius to understand it, that generates structural poverty. Leave urban workforce in conditions of unemployment, which obviously generates structural poverty. And that's why they say since the return of democracy, because the deindustrialization process with Martínez de Hoz and the dictatorship had been generated. And yes, it has not been achieved at all. But the UCA said that in 2003 … And I criticized the UCA because I think it overestimates poverty, in the previous government and in this one, because they take a very demanding basket. In Brazil, the poverty indicator is much lower than in Argentina, and anyone who knows Brazil can realize that it is linked to what basket they use to decide whether you are poor or not. There, I said about stigmatizing. You go to a family with a very demanding basket, you say "if you earn less than 27,000 pesos you are poor", and he will tell you "I am not poor, I consider myself middle class". No matter. If we go to the UCA data, in 2003 there were 25 million poor people. Using the same indicator, in 2015 there were 12 million poor people. In 12 years he had dropped to less than half. It always went down, except in 2014. Now, using that indicator you are at 16 million poor. Then, in relative terms, in non-neoliberal experiences, poverty fell. Up to absolute levels still very high. But in those 12 years it went down. And that hits very hard in the province of Buenos Aires and that is my concern.

– I mentioned the topic of phrases before. Was it a mistake to have said that it is narcomenudeo that he is out of work?

– No. What I said is that I came from being in Morón, that a priest had told me that there were people who had lost their jobs and had dedicated themselves to drug trafficking. I don't know if that is a general phenomenon or I said what my policy is going to be. I think that triggered a phenomenon, that is to take the sentence, it was tried to say that it was my characterization of the problem of drug trafficking and that that was going to be my policy to face the problem. That is not like that. They returned to the dirty campaign.

– Did you do the Kirchnerism wrong in approving requests for debt in the Legislature?

– Those orders are authorizations. Then the debt was very badly taken. When Vidal arrives in 2015, the total debt was 9,000 million dollars. And in their management, they beat 5,000 million dollars. That, measured in dollars. But only 57% was taken in dollars, foreign legislation, with private ones. It was a smaller debt, a good part in pesos, with a lower charge in maturities. How is he today? The debt is at 12,000 million dollars, but 87% is in dollars. And it is not a change to 9.70 as the officer was, now it is 60 pesos. And also the maturities during the next four years are 8,500 million dollars. In this sense, debt management, with Minister Batakis, was much better.

– If he wins then will he have to renegotiate or re-negotiate?

– (continues) In January, 570 million dollars expire. One part is with the ANSeS Sustainability Guarantee Fund. Are we going to melt it? Said Lacunza (former Minister of provincial Economy, current head of the Treasury in the Nation), who took this debt, that the debt in the Nation had to be restructured and a part could not pay it. That is why the maturities changed. The debt in the province of Buenos Aires has the same problems as the national debt.

– So, are you going to have to re-negotiate or renegotiate?

– I have been looking for private investors who have debt securities and I told them that they have to talk to the current government. We cannot … There are proposals from the debt restructuring sector of the Province, but we have not yet won the election.

– With these numbers, and if you win both, in January you will have to go ask Alberto Fernández for money.

– It's more than that. For me, according to the numbers we collect, to close the year there are about 50,000 million pesos left to the Province. And what we see with concern is that they tell us that a part wants to take it out of the Province Bank. But it is also very bad.

– If you win, who will you define the Cabinet with? With Cristina?

– I am talking about the ministries … I am in a stage of generating plans and projects for each of the areas. And I meet everyone. And I consult people with experience. Cristina is a consultation person, Alberto, Felipe Solá, Scioli, because they went through this experience.

Axel Kicillof, in his offices in downtown Buenos Aires, for the interview with Clarín (Emmanuel Fernández)

– And the Cámpora and the mayors?

– The mayors are a source of consultation, Maximum also. I consult, ask for diagnoses and projects.

– Are we not too close to an eventual assumption to be at this stage, just asking for projects?

– No, I have been working on this for at least two years. Because when you go to places … For example, you go to Bragado and they tell you "we have the problem of flooding" and you're already working on it. When you go and sit down and manage to put together a productive conversation and get rid of that we can't even talk about … For me the crack has gone out of style, it was, cut it with the dirty campaign. You sit down to talk with producers in the Province, which was the sector that faced our government. They tell you a couple of things, you answer them a couple of things, and then you talk about the real things, how they are doing with this government, how they were doing with ours, what was right and what was wrong. And what is needed. That's why I think they didn't understand on August 11. Our society, which is wrong, the thick, the middle class, María Eugenia Vidal was the best student of Macri. They have a society for 26 years. He is the same political force, he was his boss, he is his mentor, his example. He made national policy in the province of Buenos Aires. While companies were melting, businesses were closing, the Province did nothing. And because? Because doing something, my interpretation, would have been to denounce Macri.

– What is your look on the corruption of the Kirchnerist stage?

– The teaching that we all have to listen to is that so that in any government there are no acts of corruption, there must be good, reliable control bodies. I, for example, was a Minister of Economy, and a Minister of Economy does not have to commit any criminal act, he has to govern without any act of corruption, but it cannot be that his occupation is – in any government, even in Macri – engage in controlling all the officers in your portfolio. There must be control agencies that are dedicated to monitoring.

A late Peronist, who did not meet Kirchner

Axel Kicillof is Boca fan as his father and grandfather. But his children are not: one is from Independiente, another from River. It is not, for Kicillof, an inconvenience: he has gone to La Bombonera little and does not usually watch football on TV although he takes his children, aged 7 and 9, to train at a neighborhood club.

"All I want is for them to be Peronists," he says, laughs and clarifies. "It's a joke: let them be what they want to be." It seems, after two hours of talk, relax and throw the smoke. His parents, both psychoanalysts, were not Peronists, and he, until a few years ago, either. Now it is.

With 48 years old, Axel – he has no middle name -, father of two men and partner of Soledad, is the favorite to assume as governor of Buenos Aires next December.

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If the result of the August PASS is confirmed on October 27, it will be the peak of a political adventure of inaccurate dates. Kicillof began touring the Province in 2016 and a year later, he changed his address from Federal Capital to Pilar.

In a Renault Clío, a car that became the protagonist of the campaign, toured the province for three years, installed his name and gained muscle. It was like evangelizing in the desert: with the K seal, Peronism looked at it from afar.

Then, the polls showed him as the most competitive figure against María Eugenia Vidal, which naturalized the fact that, in May, Cristina Kirchner blessed him as a candidate.

Kicillof says that there was not a moment where he was offered to be a candidate, but that it was happening, little by little, until it happened. Sounds weird, but the economist assumes himself as someone a bit unusual. It does not have, either, a record of when it began to be considered Kirchner, although during the government of Nestor Kirchner – whom, surprisingly, he never met in person -, from a study group called CENDA, vindicated the management of the Patagonia.

Demystify, incidentally, that he has militated in the "Fede", the youth group of the Communist Party. And it is considered part of Kirchernism with "affinity" with groups such as La Cámpora although, he says, "everyone knows that I am the candidate of the Front of All and that I must be the governor of all Buenos Aires."

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He assures that he "always" made politics. At least since he entered the National College of Buenos Aires and then at the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the UBA, where he led the "skeptical" or independent TNT force (Fools but not Both). Account, as an indication of his interest, that in addition to Economics began to pursue Political Science. At that time he met Wado De Pedro and Mariano Recalde, today two of the leaders of La Cámpora.

He left the career of Political Science, but now recreates that duality. Milita and speaks as a candidate but can not "not talk about economics," he confesses. Talking is one of his few hobbies: chat with friends, politics, economics. Chat.

Axel Kicillof, in his Buenos Aires office during the interview with Clarín. (Photo: Emmanuel Fernández)

Right now

A project

"Integrate the PBA productively, economically and socially"

A challenge

"Transform and enthuse"

A dream

"Equal opportunities"

A memory

"The births of my children"

A leader

"Juan Domingo Perón"

A hero

"Jose de San Martin"

A society that I admire

"The ones that rise after the worst tragedies"

A person that I admire

"My grandfather Miguel León Kicillof"

A meal

"Pionono, roasted with fries and watchful dessert"

A drink

"Mate and red wine"

A pleasure

"Spend a Sunday at home with my children and my wife"


"The elementary particles of Houellebecq"

A movie

"Clandestine Childhood"

A series

"Game of Thrones"