What does Macri’s first public reappearance mean?

30th January 2020

By Luciana Bertoia

What does Macri’s first public reappearance mean?

Less than two months after Alberto Fernandez replaced him at the Government House, Mauricio Macri made his reappearance on the public stage and sent a message to both the new administration and the rest of the opposition that he is still willing to fight for its leadership.

Fernández has been devoting his efforts to renegotiating the debt and seeking support among Western leaders to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and some of his allies in the ruling coalition think he should do more to set the public agenda in order not to concede space to the return of the opposition.

However, Macri’s first public appearance was followed by his acceptance of a position outside of Argentine politics, as well as by strong public criticism from former allies, suggesting that the road is far from paved for a swift comeback after his defeat in the 2019 presidential elections.

</p> <h2><strong>Being critical and being criticized</strong></h2> <p>On Saturday, a video of a meeting held by the former president with a group of members of his PRO party in Villa La Angostura, a Patagonian town where he is on vacation with his family, was leaked.</p> <p>During that conversation, Macri dedicated some criticism to his own economic team and to the Radical Civic Union (UCR), one of his allies in the <em>Juntos por el Cambio</em> (Together for Change) coalition.</p> <p>&#8220;I always told everyone: &#8216;Be careful, I know how markets work. One day they stop lending you money and it all goes to shit’,&#8221; Macri is heard saying in the video.</p> <p>His words were not welcomed by the members of his economic cabinet, according to <a href="https://www.infobae.com/economia/2020/01/29/quienes-le-decian-a-macri-que-se-quedara-tranquilo-mientras-el-avisaba-nos-vamos-a-la-mierda-grieta-y-furia-entre-los-ex-funcionarios-economicos-de-cambiemos/">Infobae</a>. Various members of the UCR also criticized him.</p> <p>&#8220;He made decisions and must accept accountability for them,&#8221; UCR chairman Alfredo Cornejo said. &#8220;He should keep quiet and be prudent,&#8221; Cornejo added. Cornejo, a former governor of Mendoza and current member of the Lower House, is one of those who dispute Macri&#8217;s leadership of <em>Juntos por el Cambio</em>, the coalition that brings together Macri&#8217;s PRO, UCR and Elisa Carrió&#8217;s Civic Coalition.</p> <p><em>Juntos por el Cambio</em> met Tuesday in Congress to look for a joint position on debt renegotiation. Cornejo, Senator Luis Naidenoff and Congressman Mario Negri participated as UCR representatives. For the Civic Coalition, Maximiliano Ferraro and Juan Manuel Lopez, two close allies of Carrió, were also there. Representing the PRO were former Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Larreta, the only national leader of the party founded by Macri who was re-elected last year. Macri and former Buenos Aires Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal are still officially on holiday and redefining their political future after last year&#8217;s defeats.</p> <p>President Fernández also took the opportunity to <a href="https://www.ambito.com/politica/charlas-quincho/alberto-f-aprovecha-sincericidio-macri-n5079084">take a dig</a> at Macri, saying &#8220;I did not understand if he was doing some kind of group therapy or if, seriously, a former president is telling Argentines that he knew he was destroying the country&#8217;s economy but nevertheless continued to move in that direction.&#8221;</p> <h2><strong>Back to football</strong></h2> <p>Macri, for the time being, will once again be related to his first love: football. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) announced on Tuesday that Macri will become the executive chairman of the FIFA Foundation, an entity created in March 2018 to develop social projects.</p> <p>“Mauricio is the perfect fit to lead this project, which aims to harness football to benefit society,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a press release.</p> <p>Macri&#8217;s leap into politics came from the presidency of Boca Juniors, which he held between 1995 and 2007. After a quarter of a century, Macri and his allies lost the club&#8217;s presidency last year, which was also a major blow for the former president.</p> <p>Macri distributed a message on social networks thanking the appointment as head of the FIFA Foundation and making it clear that he does not represent a political exile.</p> <p>&#8220;I&#8217;m very grateful for this show of confidence from FIFA and this recognition of our country. This is a new additional role that I will perform with honor, without neglecting the commitment I made to the Argentines who elected us to continue representing them,&#8221; the former president wrote.</p> <h2><strong>Macri’s other plans</strong></h2> <p>Jaime Durán Barba, the political consultant who was behind Macri&#8217;s rise in politics, doesn&#8217;t think Macri may ever play in the major leagues again.</p> <p>&#8220;I don&#8217;t think he&#8217;s going to leave politics, but I&#8217;m not sure he&#8217;ll try to be president again. It&#8217;s over. He did his best,&#8221; Durán Barba told journalist Diego Genoud in an interview published on the <a href="https://www.letrap.com.ar/nota/2020-1-26-9-1-0--cristina-es-la-mujer-mas-brillante-de-la-historia-argentina">Letra P</a> website.</p> <p>As it turns out, Macri will seek to maintain a presence in the political arena through three strategies.</p> <p>On the one hand, he plans to write a book about his presidency — imitating in some way his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who used the publication of <em><a href="https://gettheessential.com/politics/2019/05/16/peronism-courts-and-unions-move-closer-to-cristina-kirchner-after-public-reappearance">Sinceramente</a></em> as a platform to shore up the campaign of the <em>Frente de Todos</em>.</p> <p>On the other hand, Macri plans to set up a public policy foundation to take part in public discussions and to challenge the policies implemented by Alberto Fernández from a non-partisan space. At the foundation, which will be located a few blocks from the presidential residence in Olivos, Macri will be accompanied by former Cabinet chief Marcos Peña and former presidential secretary general Fernando de Andreis.</p> <p>Finally, Macri prepares to tour the provinces to keep alive the support of the 40 percent of Argentines who voted for him. His inner circle thinks of it as small demonstrations of support that reflect the <a href="https://gettheessential.com/politics/2019/08/29/pro-macri-rally-brings-short-term-relief-for-cambiemos">two massive mobilizations</a> that took place after the primaries and the general elections in support of the then-president.</p> <p>It is not yet clear whether this will be enough for Macri to become the head of the opposition, especially since he does not have a political platform from which to take over — as, for example, Rodríguez Larreta does.</p> <p>&#8220;It is premature to say who will lead the opposition,&#8221; political consultant Rosendo Fraga told <em>The Essential</em>.</p> <p>&#8220;The FIFA Foundation won&#8217;t help Macri to go back to the political arena. He has lost control of Boca Juniors and that has weakened him a lot in the world of football. His statements against his economic officials and Durán Barba&#8217;s statements against him show that there is a major internal crisis at <em>Juntos por el Cambio</em>,&#8221; added Fraga, who heads the Nueva Mayoría agency.</p> <p>For Fraga, Kirchnerites may launch a judicial onslaught against Macri, bringing charges of corruption and irregularities during his four years in office. Although some investigations are underway, it will only be known if his suspicions are true after Monday, when the courts are set to end their summer recess.</p> <p>&#8220;Nothing is certain yet. The key will be the outcome of the mid-term election in October 2021,&#8221; Fraga said.</p> <p>

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Luciana Bertoia

Luciana Bertoia is a journalist specialized in judicial, political and human rights issues. She has published in Ámbito Financiero, Página/12, the Buenos Aires Herald and the International Justice Tribune.