Updated 05/09/2021 12:03 AM
Martín Guzmán checked WhatsApp and was speechless, with his eyes fixed on the cell phone screen.
The message read like this, verbatim, with sentences separated by hyphens and with words in capital letters:
─The request for Federico Basualdo's resignation never existed.
─Press operations do not contribute to conducting sector policy at such a delicate time for the country.
─Basualdo NEVER raised the rate freeze.
The public hearings clearly mark the path: take care of people's pockets and give predictability to the sector.
─Basualdo argues that in the context of the pandemic, the increase could never REACH double digits.
This is based on the difficult situation that Argentina is going through, and in particular the province of Buenos Aires.
The message, a bit longer in fact, had been written by members of La Cámpora, which is the same as Máximo Kirchner. The text was addressed to a group of journalists, who had been clarified that it was information "
", that is, ─according to the manuals─ it was authorized to be published with reservation of the source. But the maneuver was so careless - or, perhaps the other way around, so intentional - that
a few seconds later someone forwarded the message to Guzmán's phone.
The Minister of Economy understood then the dimension of the storm that was coming. Of course, his Secretary of Energy had already asked Basualdo, the Undersecretary of Electric Power, to resign. La Cámpora denied the information and attributed the operation to Guzmán because several news portals had published the official's departure. The operation, for those who like to stick to the facts in a chronological way, was the other way around: Máximo interceded to
reverse a measure that the Minister of Economy had
with Alberto Fernández.
There is no unanimity on whether Alberto believed that a camper official could be detached without Cristina's consent or
if there was something darker,
as some Cabinet actors maintain: that she accepted the decision when it was communicated to her and then, for some reason, you regretted or saw something you did not like. What the vice did know, with an untimely phrase, was her discomfort with the handling of information and the leak to journalists.
Two days before the scandal, Guzmán had spoken with Fernández to tell him that he wanted to fire Basualdo. His work did not go according to plan. The minister wanted a 15% increase in the electricity rate, in two sections. It was, from the beginning, a concession, because until a few months ago it was intended to be in tune with inflation, at least the projected one, of 29%. Alberto spoke with Santiago Cafiero about the issue. The chief of staff then chatted with Guzmán. And Guzmán, with the paved road, asked Darío Martínez, the Secretary of Energy, to inform Basualdo of the exit. It was just a procedure.
The story has an ending. Basualdo did not and will not go. It would even be more appropriate to say that he received some kind of promotion, judging by
the way he is treated and the jokes that
his closest colleagues
. In the midst of the crossings -which included the sending of screenshots with messages and TV images-, the official received privately a cataract of support, starting with the referents of La Cámpora.
Axel Kicillof, who is not part of that sector, also gave him a hug from a distance. When a journalist dismissed him in a radio interview in which they had delved into the pandemic, Kicillof asked not to be taken off the air to clarify how efficient Basualdo was.
No one had asked or suggested.
It must be unprecedented for a governor to immerse himself in an intern to defend a third-line national official.
As the days went by, the Casa Rosada began to adjust the story and say that Basualdo will end up leaving, but not now.
"Neither now nor later
", they challenge in La Cámpora. Basualdo himself boasted of his situation indoors. Better to ask about the future of Guzmán. It will go? No one can assure it, nor can it deny it. He doesn't want to go this way. He is a stubborn man. Yes, on the other hand, it is known that Cristina and Máximo
do not love him, do not tolerate him and do not respect him more.
The minister will be exposed to every decision that he makes or, worse, that he cannot make. There are those who say that Fernández put him on the plane that yesterday left for Europe to make him aware of the political dynamics of the official front. The negotiation with the IMF will thus enter a cone of shadows greater than the one that already exists. For Cristina, Guzmán stopped being the minister of Economy.
It is considered by the Minister of the Fund.
The Instituto Patria, through Oscar Parrilli in the Senate, marked the field. The 4.3 billion dollars that the agency grants to Argentina as part of the aid to different countries to combat the effects of the pandemic cannot and should not be used to pay debt, as the minister wishes. Camping is going for more: it wants Alberto and Guzmán to replace the Emergency Family Income (IFE), an aid for about 9 million people that was implemented in 2020.
It was up to Daniel Arroyo, the Minister of Social Development, to put his face: “The IFE had to do with a moment in April, May and June of last year, in which all activity was closed and poverty was 47% , and this is not the moment of that situation ”, he said.
Another round with La Cámpora
. For Andrés Larroque, camper symbol and minister of Kicillof, a new IFE is indispensable.
The Frente de Todos mounted an impressive and urgent operation to try to deactivate the internal ones.
Never forget that in a couple of months there will be elections
. That summit in Ensenada did have the camper nod. “The work was already done. The signal that we do not touch anyone was clear to everyone, "they said in the group led by Máximo. Meanwhile, Alberto said: "Take this photo, it is the photo of the unit." He was not telling the whole truth. A novelty appears in the final decision-making of the ruling party. Until today, Cristina was Alberto's last barrier. It could become, directly, La Cámpora.
A veteran of a thousand battles like Armando Cavalieri - who was a Menemista, a Duhaldista, a Kirchnerist and when they also left him a bit Macrista - has just verbalized what many leaders think, including a part of the Cabinet and the more dialogist opposition.
"You have to use the power you have," the union member told him at Wednesday's meeting in Olivos, as published by Carlos Galván in
Cavalieri would have said something else:
"Do you or do you not have power?"
"More and more people are asking him to react, to become a boss and assert himself," says an Albertist.
The Basualdo episode relegates a fact that seemed insurmountable: the departure of Marcela Losardo - Alberto's close friend - from the Ministry of Justice.
There is a fable that Carlos Menem used to tell during air travel with his team. A fable that Carlos Corach frequently reproduces among those who call him, who are many since the death of the former president. Some have begun to make that fable their own (not Corach) to draw analogies with Alberto and ratify how important it is that whoever drives - regardless of whether he does so with or without success - earns the respect of the rest.
According to the fable, a boy says to his father: "Daddy, Daddy, I want you to buy me a little monkey." The father refuses, tells him that they live in an apartment, but the boy insists and the father, after several days, takes him to an animal house full of cages with monkeys. The baby chooses one. Dad asks how much it is worth. "One thousand dollars," says the seller. The man is surprised at the price. "What happens is that this monkey has notions of English and French", clarifies the seller. In front of his father's face, the baby chooses a second option. "That is worth 2,500," says the seller, "because in addition to notions of English and French, he knows mathematics and physics." The baby looks for a third monkey. “That is worth 4 thousand ─ interrupts the salesman ─ He speaks ten languages”.
Already exasperated with the situation, the father says that now he is going to choose a monkey himself.
He walks around the room and comes across a tiny, rickety, graceless monkey.
"This has to be cheaper," he supposes.
The seller gets angry.
He tells him not to waste his time, that this is the most expensive monkey in the place.
─But what does this monkey know how to do?
The man asks.
The seller looks at it.
How to know does not know how to do anything, but all the other monkeys call him boss.