-What did you find in the Government?
-The deterioration is very large. The economic situation of the country is very serious and we are moving forward with exceptional measures because the situation is exceptional.
Interview with the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero. Photo: Juano Tesone.RELATED
– Is it more serious now than when they assumed?
-It's still hard for us to know some things. For example, the state of the fiscal deficit. We still don't know in depth what the deficit is. There are under-executed items, there are parts of the budget that are crossed. We have encountered many difficulties.
– Was there concealment?
-No. There was an underestimation by the previous Government of what the deficit was. They wanted to exhibit one that is not. It is a debate that we do not finish paying off: what is the real deficit of Argentina. The previous government said it was going to zero, then ended up saying it was 0.5 and for us today it is more.
– Is the tourist dollar a doubling of the exchange market?
-No. It is not a split. We set an extraordinary tribute for purchases abroad. It does not imply a quotation other than the currency or any restrictions beyond those that already exist.
– The double compensation they put it because they believe that they can get to lose more jobs?
– What we did was to begin to put in this way narrow barriers that try to contain the fall. We need to stop the economic downturn.
– They spoke with the Table of Liaison on the new scheme of retentions?
-I wish I could differentiate. Those who touched were export duties. Those rights had a moving part and a fixed part. The fixed was anchored to a fixed value, it was a percentage but which in turn had a fixed ceiling that were the famous four pesos per dollar. When that measure is taken, the dollar was 36 pesos, today it is 63. What we did was remove that cap so that it is updated. In objective terms we do not touch the retentions. They are the same as Macri.
-Do you fear any field protest? There are calls on the networks …
-We will be talking with all the entities of the agricultural chain. We have to rediscut the productive profile that our country needs. This was a really urgent measure. What I needed to solve was a jump in the exchange rate that had no reflection on export. It had to do with it.
– I ask him for that experience of 2008 of 125 …
– No no no. The situation seems very different to me. Today a fixed value is being updated in the same withholdings that Macri put. They are the same percentages.
– The Minister of Economy said that the issue will be limited. So, is everything committed to the renegotiation with the IMF, not to pay for a while, in order to finance the productive recovery?
-We are willing to pay, what we don't have is the ability to pay. We need time to grow the economy and pay the debt. If we get that time to pay off the debt, we have no doubt that Argentina will quickly get going.
– And if they don't get it, is there plan B if?
-It is part of the negotiation that is being initiated.
Interview with the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero. Photo: Juano Tesone.
– But there are not many financing options to reactivate …
-No. We need time. The measures that are going to be taken will be informed by Minister Guzman. This has just begun and is a complex negotiation.
– Are they negotiating for two years?
-No. We are negotiating a term. The approach is development.
-What can you tell us about the package of laws that will come to Congress on Monday?
-The project involves issues related to tax points, tax benefits, to declare the health emergency, to extend the social and food emergency. It implies a lot. It is not just economic emergency.
We aim to have a law that empowers the Executive to work and operate on certain circumstances that are exceptional. In one case it will be AFIP, in another Anses, in another the Central Executive power. Everything is detailed in the package of laws.
-The idea of “putting money in people's pockets” is heard a lot, isn't there a risk that inflation will trigger even more than it already is?
– If that is not calibrated, yes. If that is calibrated very accurately and work is being done on the most delayed sectors … that is very likely to go to food and that will probably generate some revival in sectors of low or no resources. That is not necessarily inflationary. What you can't do is leave much more of that restriction you have. Here there is a debt restriction and a fiscal restriction. When you say “they give money to people” we are supposed to issue. No. We will be very consistent with the monetary policy set by the Central Bank and we will be governed by those limits. We are going to take it because we need a fiscal balance.
-What role do you think the opposition will have against the economic emergency project?
-We think that the opposition will be very responsible. Everyone is aware of the situation in which the country is. You have to understand the state in which Argentina is. We need all sectors and all actors.
– In Congress, the President talked about a judicial reform. Is there a date?
– The project is being worked on with the corresponding areas, especially Justice, and will be submitted to Congress. We want an open, plural and participatory project, which is discussed in Congress, which is the scope of participation.
– What will happen to the 300 judges that Macri sent to appoint in the Senate?
– The specifications go to the Agreement Committee and must be treated there.
– And the reform of the AFI is an issue that is only in the head of the president?
– There is already a part of the administrative and management teams that made contact and have been linked since 10. But that implies the intervention and then a reform project, it is wanted to be presented in an integral way, and the president will do it.
– We are without political leadership in the AFI Who do you report at this time?
– To formal systems.
– Is the plan to decentralize the agency?
– The project was not finished and it is being studied well what is the most appropriate. What is clear is that the president wants to show a different direction: that the tasks of the staff are known, part of which is qualified, and that the destinations of those reserved funds are known.
– There is a ghost with the AFI: that nobody wants to get in or that when you put the political power to end complicated.
– We had a choice of good democratic quality. And the transition was orderly. There was no tension or tension but there was an orderly transfer and democratic values work and are relevant in our country, beyond the mud and the electoral fight. When you compare it with the regional, even more. When Alberto Fernández finishes being president, 40 years of Argentine democracy will be completed. That has to call us to a reflection.
– The president summons to end the crack. Is that possible with Cristina so active?
– Clear. Cristina expresses a substantial part of our political space, she is an extraordinary vice president because she is atypical, because she was eight years president of the Nation, because she has international recognition and has given global discussions that others were not encouraged to give, such as the sovereign debt. Let's not pretend it is a traditional vice because it is not and complements us that it is not. Cristina's positions have to do with her convictions and values and they empower us, from diversity and unity.
– The other day Cristina stated that we had to rethink the distribution of federal resources. Are you planning extra help for Axel Kicillof in the province?
– There are inequities, Cristina says of La Matanza and refers to the province of Buenos Aires. The budget of Matanza is similar to that of a Buenos Aires secretary. That discussion has to stay.
– The city contributes more than what it receives. Something similar happens with Buenos Aires. Is it the same discussion?
– Yes, it has to do with the distribution of resources and wealth. It is true about the City of Buenos Aires but it is no less true that it is because of the administrative offices, they are not the spaces where it is produced. The debate is deeper and it is not against the city, but it has to do with how a more harmonious Argentina is made.
– Different attitudes are perceived between Alberto and Cristina. As in the gestures towards Macri. Do you observe that political attitude?
– Everyone gives him the treatment he wants. It is true that our vice did not hide what she considers regarding Macri. But there was no movement.
– Is it more personal than political?
– I do not know. He clearly doesn't want it. And it's sincere: it doesn't hide it. Now: can we live with people who think differently? Yes, we can live together.
– That Cristina is so protagonist can not affect the presidential image?
– She is an exceptional vice president in every point of view.
– Can't it hurt?
– Not at all: share the direction of the country proposed by Alberto, on the contrary, the power. Let's match up.
Interview with the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero. Photo: Juano Tesone.
– How did the criticism of the Trump official, Claver-Carone, who did not attend the oath because he was a minister of Maduro?
– They fell very badly. But the president was in contact with the State Department and could clarify those points.
– And how do you imagine the relationship with the United States?
– Much respect. Guiding us by what President Trump told the president, to know the fragility of the Argentine economy and that they are willing to accompany a path of revival and recomposition from the economic and institutional.
– And the relationship with Bolsonaro and Brazil, a key partner in the region?
– We will recompose the relationship but the country-country link exceeds the discussion between two presidents or two authorities. Anyone who knows the enclave of Mercosur, the integration between trade, knows that this is invariable regardless of the good or not good relationship between two presidents. But we will recompose it.
A "blue blood" Peronist in the world Alberto
– I introduce you to Alberto's right hand.
– The right hand of an octopus.
Santiago Cafiero often uses that gag. With 40 years, this political scientist, third generation of political race, sought to minimize his influence in the atmosphere Alberto Fernández, a microplane of very few inhabitants.
Cafiero, since last Tuesday head of Cabinet, is the visible face of albertismo, an ism that was born the day Cristina Kirchner blessed Fernandez. It happened on May 18, 2019 and Cafiero was there.
He also integrated the very select group, together with Máximo Kirchner and some others, who knew before, that Cristina would enthrone Alberto. Peronist as Antonio, his grandfather and River as Juan Pablo, his father, Santiago inherited religious militancy from both.
In the '90s in the village of La Cava, he began a military with Jorge García Cuerva, a priest who was appointed as bishop of the diocese of Rio Gallegos. At the time, he created a Basic Unit and a picnic area.
He was not, he says, menemist or abandoned Peronism. His grandfather, in the late '90s, became a candidate of Carlos Menem while his father, in that decade, migrated to what would be the Frepaso with Carlos "Chacho" Alvarez.
Before the landing in the world Alberto, Cafiero was councilman of San Isidro and official of Daniel Scioli. In his political DNA there is not a hint of Christianity. Vindicated, like many Peronists, Nestor – he was an Economy official with Felisa Miceli- but had distance or friction with the K device.
He was part of the scrum that opted for a Peronist route outside of Cristina, which lurked behind Florencio Randazzo, of whom Fernández was campaign manager. Cafiero came to that adventure from the hand of Gabriel Katopodis, mayor of San Martín, who played until the end with Randazzo. During that failed electoral experiment, Cafiero met Fernández.
There were, romanticize those involved, empathy immediately. They agreed with the self-criticism about the anti-K experience and the urgency of the panperonist unity. He was among the first to know that Alberto had reconciled with Cristina.
Then came the Callao group and a tour with Fernández with the message of joining. Alberto was, then, CFK political chancellor. Cafiero synthesizes it like this: "Cristina defined the strategy, Alberto the tactics." One without the other would not have achieved what was achieved, he says: that the former run, the PJ unit and the electoral victory.
In 2015, he formed the publishing house Punto de Encuentro con amigos en San Isidro, which published the Cabecita Negra collection with texts by Juan Domingo Perón. He opened a branch in downtown Buenos Aires. He closed it because of the crisis.
Santiago Andrés Cafiero was born in San Isidro, province of Buenos Aires, on August 30, 1979. He attended primary school at public school No. 4 and secondary school at José Manuel Estrada school in that district and received a degree in Political Science at the National University of Buenos Aires (UBA). He held several public positions, among them he was councilman of San Isidro and deputy minister of Social Development of the province of Buenos Aires during the government of Daniel Scioli. On December 10, he swore as head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Alberto Fernández. He is a River fan and is married to Josefina Chavez, with whom he has three children.
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