With Juan Manzur clearing his desk ahead of his return to Tucumán, Alberto Fernández is moving his pieces around the board. The president has decided that Agustín Rossi, the current head of the Federal Intelligence Agency, will be his next Cabinet chief.
Rossi, who was spotted over the weekend in Atlanta, United States, will assume office on Wednesday, February 15.
Manzur’s departure has been forewarned and his intention is to join the fight for executive power in his home province of Tucumán, as vice-governor in a formula headed by acting Governor Osvaldo Jaldo. Elections to be held in the region on May 14.
The move forced the hand of the head of state, which has chosen to complete his Cabinet line-up with Rossi, a leader who has always defined himself as a Kirchnerite and who led the Defence Ministry during the first year and a half of the president’s administration.
Rossi, 63, left his post in 2021 after choosing to complete in legislative elections Santa Fe Province, facing, as a pre-candidate for national senator and in the local Frente de Todos primaries, a ticket that had the backing of the provincial governor, Omar Perotti, the president and Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The relationship between "el Chivo" and the ruling coalition’s main leaders cooled, but as the months have gone by, and in the midst of a turbulent period for the coalition, he has always spoken up for unity. Fernández, faced with the possibility of replacing Graciela Caamaño at the head of the AFI, thought of Rossi.
So far, the veteran politician has made no public statement on the matter. According to sources, the leader was seen at an airport in Atlanta, United States, on Saturday where he went through immigration formalities. In the ruling coalition, they offer no comment though it has emerged that Rossi will be officially sworn-in on February 15.
The portfolio’s number two will remain unchanged: despite speculation that he might replace Manzur, Juan Manuel Olmos, a historic leader of the Justicialist Party (PJ), will continue as deputy Cabinet chief.
Rossi is a civil engineer born in Vera, Santa Fe province, in 1959. He is married to the lawyer María Raquel Pezzelato, with whom he has two children. A Peronist veteran since the 1980s, he began his political career in Rosario, and has vast experience in both legislative and executive roles. He has always been closely linked to Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the Kirchnerite wing of the Peronist coalition, though in recent years he has become closer to the president. He is said to have the “trust” of Alberto Fernández, an important factor at a time of coalition tension.
Manzur, despite the leave of absence he took as governor of Tucumán to take over Fernández's Cabinet, has never stopped following closely what was happening in his home province. On Friday, he confirmed his departure from the government.
"My time as Cabinet chief is coming to an end," he told the press during a tour of the provincial capital. "I have made a commitment to the people of Tucumán and I have had the great honour of being given the opportunity to govern.”