Tuesday, February 27, 2024

ARGENTINA | 30-11-2023 17:55

Milei to appoint Gerardo Werthein as Argentina’s ambassador in Washington

Gerardo Werthein likely to take on key role for Milei government; Businessman set to be appointed as new president’s envoy to United States, tasked with forging stronger ties with Joe Biden administration.

President-elect Javier Milei’s pre-inauguration trip to New York and Washington has highlighted the importance of developing ties with the United States government for the libertarian leader. A key figure in maintaining and improving those ties will be Milei’s new ambassador to Argentina: Gerardo Werthein.

A businessman and veterinarian who spent more than a decade leading the Argentine Olympic Committee, Wertheim was part of the small delegation accompanying the president-elect in the United States this week. He was present at the White House meeting with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and US President Joe Biden’s special advisor for Latin America, Juan Gonzalez.

Until 2019 Werthein, a prominent businessman, formed part of the Grupo Werthein, one of Argentina’s most important business conglomerates with links to the sectors of finance, communications, insurance and agriculture, among others. His vet background led him into the sports leadership world via show-jumping.

For 12 years between 2009 and 2021 Gerardo Werthein headed the Argentine Olympic Committee (COA in its Spanish acronym), doing much to modernise it with an outstanding role in financing amateur sport. He also headed ENARD (Ente Nacional de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo) until his resignation in 2021.

He still retains the title of honorary president of the COA and active participation in the International Olympic Committee where he is a director of Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), a platform entrusted with transmitting Olympic competitive events.

Last year Gerardo Werthein entered the press when he purchased the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador in association with the businessman Gabriel Hochbaum and a select group of investors with leading journalist Luis Majul also part of the initiative.

The incoming envoy belongs to a Jewish industrial dynasty whose presence in Argentina dates back to 1904, when Leon Werthein and his wife Anna left Russia in the midst of the Russo-Japanese War.

Starting in the retail business with the sale of cattle, fruit, seeds, agrochemicals and fuels, the Werthein name today is linked to one of the biggest conglomerates on the continent with the Grupo Werthein holding founded by Leon himself dating back more than 90 years. It has branches also in the United Kingdom and the United States. The latter ties will now stand Gerardo (León’s great-grandson) in good stead as future envoy when he replaces Jorge Argüello in the Washington Embassy.

Local reporting indicates that it was Werthein himself who paid for the private jet flight which carried the La Libertad Avanza leader and his team to the United States this week. The group also included another leading Jewish businessman, Eduardo Elsztain, owner of Cresud agribusiness company and IRSA shopping centres and real-estate developments. 

Gerardo Werthein was, until he left the holding group, the face of the family group, mainly during the time when the fund owned Telecom Argentina SA, where he was vice-president before it was sold to Grupo Clarín.

Nowadays, with businesses outside the family clan, he owns the El Carpincho stud farm, where many equestrian parties have been hosted gathering the rich, famous and powerful alike.

Werthein also played a key role in arranging the Monday lunch Milei had in New York with ex-president Bill Clinton and ex-senator Chris Dodd, Biden’s Special Presidential Advisor for the Americas, giving details on it afterwards.

His business links could play a key role in boosting beef exports among other commodities, although this would also require the elimination of export duties and the unification of the exchange rate according to economic experts.



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