Saturday, May 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 01-03-2024 06:28

Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Torres: the governor who lit the provincial fuse

From the PRO leader’s political beginnings in Trelew, his links to Patricia Bullrich and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and his history with Mario Das Neves. How he constructed his candidacy and the special advisor with whom he worked but now at odds. A profile of the youngest provincial governor in office today.

A couple of years back, when he was constructing his Chubut gubernatorial candidacy from his Senate seat, Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Torres contracted a group of spin doctors via a close friend. One of them was Santiago Caputo, who today is the star strategist/guru of President Javier Milei. Torres never imagined that, just a short time later, the political advisor would be one of the government officials he would be confronting when his region was stripped of his federal revenue-sharing funds, a conflict that has hurled him into the middle of the public and political war.

Although not turning 36 until May, Torres is the figure stirring up a political maelstrom and the harshest confrontations between the provincial governors and the Casa Rosada.

Born in the Los Olmos neighbourhood of Trelew, Torres worked in the private sector – with family firms linked to fuel and transport – before finding time to take an interest in politics. He got to know the then-Chubut Province governor, Peronist strongman Mario Das Neves.

But Torres took another path. While still under 30 he founded the Chubut branch of PRO, building the yellow party up from zero in a province where it had no roots. In 2015 he took charge of the local office of Fundación Pensar think-tank supplying the ideas for the national candidacy of Mauricio Macri and when Cambiemos triumphed in the presidential election, Torres was appointed the local head of the PAMI healthcare scheme for pensioners.
Continuing his rapid ascent, he was promoted to head the Congress list in the 2017 midterms but it was the Radical Gustavo Menna (today the lieutenant-governor under Torres) who ended up on top.

Macri promised to place him in charge of the “Patagonia Plan,” which never prospered although in 2019 Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio found a place for Torres on his Patagonian Development Panel with the aim of highlighting his figure. That same year the young politician headed the Juntos por el Cambio ticket and entered Congress as a national deputy, running behind Peronism.

Two years later he ran for Senate and scored a surprising victory, which set him up for last year’s upset win when he was elected governor by 5,299 votes over the Peronists, who had not lost in the region in over 20 years. That campaign produced an unimaginable photo, bringing together the two fiercely rival PRO presidential hopefuls Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich, with both offering him their support.

Torres established close links with the entire PRO leadership, ranging from Macri himself to Bullrich (for whom he confessed an affection) and Rodríguez Larretta, who collaborated on fundraising for his provincial campaign. He also gained friends in both houses of Congress among the figures of his party and others. Within his entourage, they say that few had had any confidence in the qualitative leap he made in those years, perhaps from his not having a direct political leader.

The newly elected governor took over a financially devastated province but he never said a word to Milei about it, only speaking up in a summit with the nationa’s other 22 governors and Buenos Aires City Mayor Jorge Macri. 

Histrionic, loquacious and with múltiple links to the leaders of the ‘círculo rojo’ business establishment and the trade unions, Torres was the driving-force behind the leagues of Patagonian governors and of Juntos por el Cambio governors, who have unanimously supported his federal revenue-sharing grievances.
While he has had a steady partner for over six years, there are no luxuries in his nomadic political life which oblige him to go to and from Chubut regularly. In his inner heart he knows that this battle with the Casa Rosada is only just beginning.

Ezequiel Spillman

Ezequiel Spillman

Editor de Política de Diario Perfil. Mail: [email protected]


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