Tuesday, June 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 24-04-2024 16:18

Crisis at Human Capital Ministry: abrupt exits and resignations disrupt Sandra Pettovello’s portfolio

Legal Secretary Maximiliano Keczeli not the first from Sandra Pettovello’s inner circle to quit post, but he is perhaps the most important figure to have stepped down. Milei’s ‘protective umbrella’ and administrative overspills.

Sandra Pettovello  – or the "machine for detecting soft jobs," as defined by Javier Milei – faces serious managerial problems heading the Human Capital Ministry, despite the protective umbrella offered by her proximity to the President. 

The recent resignations of Gerardo Marcelo Hita as the director of the National Council for the Coordination of  Social Policies and – above all – of Legal Secretary Maximiliano Keczeli has shaken up the kitchen cabinet of one of this government’s most powerful ministers. 

Keczeli, who was in charge of the portfolio’s legal affairs and announced his exit this week, was the most powerful of Pettovello’s officials, almost on a par with the minister. 

Pettovello’s entourage presents the crisis as relative but are absolutely hermetic about the administrative difficulties.

"The minister is very jealous of her information. She does not speak in public and forbids all her spokespersons and second-line officials from answering press enquiries," an official from the Ministry’s Childhood & Adolescence Department told Perfil.

While all sources consulted insist that Pettovello has the "total support" of Milei – who at the start of his presidency assured that she was the only minister with a "blank cheque" – underhand criticism is increasingly heard.

"They bombard her and she does not look after her own," added an ex-employee who worked with former Labour secretary Omar Yasín, who was expelled in March for his alleged responsibility for Executive Branch pay increases.

Yasín was blamed by Milei, who announced the official’s exit during a radio interview. However, the key factor was the pressure from Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse and his bid to place former Techint executive Julio Cordero in the post.


‘Resignations will continue’

Within the Childhood & Adolescence Department there have also been important exits. 

Pablo Rodriguéz, in charge of food deliveries to soup kitchens, quit his post due to differences with the helm. Only a fortnight later Rodrigo Aybar left his position in the Social Economy Secretariat, as did administrative director Agustín Sánchez Orondo. 

Another sudden exit was Marcelo Basilotta, the executive director of Casa Patria Grande Néstor Kirchner. In that case, it was the Human Capital minister who requested his resignation for reasons which were never officially communicated.

"Keczeli was above all that. He had power over all the areas. The problem is that the scope of this ministry has become unmanageable," assured an official who entered ANSES social security administration as a new hire and is still awaiting confirmation.

"Between the Potenciar [job programme], the universities and the mess with labour and the mínimum wage, they toss a grenade our way every day. The resignations will continue," ventured the same source.

The lack of official appointments is a further grave problem facing Pettovello, Perfil managed to confirm, with the multiplication of leading officials who work but have yet to collect a salary.

"They pay us under the counter with political slush funds until we are named by the state, but the delays cause many to start having second thoughts. It’s exhausting," recognised a self-employed collaborator in a key area of the Education Department

Ramón Indart

Ramón Indart


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