Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 12-12-2023 15:24

Axel Kicillof sworn in for second term as Buenos Aires Province governor

Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof aims a dig at new President Javier Milei as he is sworn in for a second term; Kirchnerite leader is now the movement's most powerful leader in office.

Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof was sworn-in for his second term on Monday after winning re-election in the October elections.

The ceremony, broadcast on the provincial government’s YouTube channel, was attended by a host of former government officials and leading Peronist lights, including former vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the governor’s political boss. 

Leaders of historic human rights organisations, aligned unions and academic figures were also on hand to celebrate Kicillof’s inauguration.

Deputy Governor Verónica Magario, who also renewed her position for a further four years, was also sworn-in.

In a speech lasting nearly 40 minutes, Kicillof defended his record as governor and vowed to protect citizens from economic decline.

He initially thanked his Cabinet, lawmakers, family and friends, whilst paying tribute to Fernández de Kirchner, who watched on with Kicillof’s wife and children from a balcony.

Kicillof paid tribute to residents in the nation’s most-populous province. 

“This re-election comes in circumstances of much social unrest, where many ruling party administrations were defeated. We were elected all the same,” he said.

“They valued what we’ve done in very complex conditions, but above all this government was elected once again knowing that by voting for us you don’t vote for a mechanical continuity, but the continuation of the transformation of Buenos Aires Province,” he claimed.

Kicillof went on to fire a number of verbal shots at Milei. “We acknowledge that we still have a long way to go to ensure everyone a decent life, in peace, with less fear and uncertainty. For that reason, we take this re-election with excitement, but without over-confidence,” he said.

“We have to say it. Despite all the difficulties, the people of Buenos Aires Province assessed what’s missing in housing, education, healthcare, infrastructure, which you can’t get with a chainsaw or with austerity!” he said, referring to Milei without directly mentioning him. 

According to Kicillof, over the last few weeks we have heard “outrageous things about the resources received by Buenos Aires Province.” 

“Our province is, by far, the one which spent the least resources per inhabitant last year,” he claimed.

In that context, the Kirchnerite leader stressed the contribution the province makes to federal revenue-sharing and raised a future claim which might show up over the next few weeks on the national agenda: “We contribute nearly 40 percent of federal revenue-sharing. We receive little more than 20 percent.”

“Our province is the one which contributes the most to the gross domestic product and added value, the one which has welcomed most migrants, the one with huge social housing infrastructure debts we have to acknowledge and settle," he continued. 

Attack on Milei

In another section, Kiciloff pre-emptively slammed the economic policies Milei is likely to introduce.

“Nationwide, a space which is not ours won the election. But the truth is we don’t have to rule only for a provincial force. I’m not the Governor of an island. I’m the Governor of nearly 40 percent of Argentines whose quality of life depends largely on what the national government does or doesn’t do,” Kicillof declared to applause.

After describing the government of former president Mauricio Macri, Kicillof gave his point of view about the nationwide defeat of Peronism: “Civil rights were expanded, that much is true, but four years later, inflation kept on growing and reached upsetting levels.”

“The income was not recovered and this prevents conditions for a calm everyday life. We couldn’t give an answer to these needs as a political force, and that is undoubtedly one of the causes of the election result,” Kicillof asserted. 

“Néstor and Cristina won two re-elections in the first round at their time for governing boldly, implementing policies that substantially improved the quality of life of the people substantially,” he recalled. 

And he stressed: “Those 12 wonderful years should not be the source of nostalgia or melancholy, they should be turned into a manual about how to rule with courage and love for the homeland by most people.”

To Kicillof, Milei’s proposals will not lead to a better society or “a better economy,” but he said he respected the new administration’s mandate.

“We’ll have to live with a national government whose priorities we don’t share, but whose popular legitimacy we respect. In different aspects, their proposals are the exact opposite of our way of looking at life and the world,” he pointed out. 

In this vein, Kicillof warned: “We also ask for respect for the will of most citizens of this province who backed us en masse in our project for development, inclusion, defence of rights, which we will carry out in Buenos Aires Province.”

He also asked Milei to take on his presidential role “with responsibility and patriotism” and highlighted: “Society did not vote for revenge or sacrifices, society aspires for the recovery which they will have to lead.”

“Rest assured that most Argentines did not choose a drop in salaries, the destruction of production and industrial jobs, let alone a pardon for genocides or the privatisation of public education and healthcare,” he declared.

To conclude, Kicillof specified in clear reference to libertarians: “Dignity is not traded. Rights are not measured by financial gain. Solidarity is not a calculation or a transaction.”

“Freedom is only possible with equality. Life is not a market. And the homeland is not for sale,” the former national economy minister stated.

New faces

For his second term, Kicillof is keeping much of his Cabinet, though he has also introduced new faces. 

La Cámpora leader Andrés ‘Cuervo’ Larroque will continue to be the head of the provincial Community Development Ministry and Pablo López will remain in charge of the Economy and Finance Ministry. Augusto Costa will continue to lead the Production, Science & Technological Innovation Ministry, and Nicolás Kreplak will do likewise with the Health portfolio.

Walter Correa will remain as provincial Labour minister, as will Alberto Sileoni in the Directorate of Culture and Education. Daniela Vilar, from La Cámpora, will remain at the Environment Ministry, as will Javier Rodríguez in Agricultural Development.

Others holding on to their posts include Agustina Vila as General Secretary; Estela Díaz as Women, Gender Policy and Sexual Diversity minister; and Jesica Rey as Public Communication. What is more, Florencia Saintout will continue to preside over the provincial cultural institute and Jorge D'Onofrio will do likewise at Transport.

Cristina Álvarez Rodríguez, in turn, will be the new chief advisor to the Governor, whereas Carlos Bianco will assume the post of government (interior) minister.

One of the major changes will be at the Security Ministry: outspoken official Sergio Berni is out and Javier Alonso, current undersecretary of Training and Professional Development, is in. Berni will now be the chancellor of the Juan Vucetich University Institute.

One of the most high-profile additions to Kicillof’s Cabinet is Gabriel Katopodis as the new Infrastructure and Public Services minister.

Silvina Batakis will be in charge of the Ministry of Habitat & Urban Development Ministry, whereas Juan Martín Mena will hold the post of Justice & Human Rights minister, replacing Julio Alak.



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