The weakened coexistence between the Casa Rosada and the toughest sectors of Kirchnerism ended last Friday, after the Minister of Economy Martín Guzmán asked Federico Basualdo, the undersecretary of electricity, to resign in the middle of the debate on the increase in electricity rates.
The official’s refusal to leave office fueled a conflict that continued to escalate since that day, after the total and direct support of La Cámpora and Cristina and Máximo Kirchner for him. “Basualdo does not go away”, was the descent of the line of Kirchnerism, openly confronted with Guzmán, exposed after having agreed with the Chief of Cabinet Santiago Cafiero and with President Alberto Fernández the departure of the official. Four days after the outbreak, Basualdo continues in his position and Guzmán, at least temporarily, had to backtrack on the decision he had made last Friday.
The distance between Guzmán and Cristina has grown in recent months.
Probably Within the energy sector, it is where the influence of La Cámpora and the Instituto Patria is most noticeable. In the 17 months of Alberto Fernández’s administration, the Ministry of Energy was the area where there were more movements of officials. It is a strategic box, for resources and power, since from there subsidies for electricity and gas are administered, which represent in the 2021 budget more than $ 565,000 million, 90% of the funds of the entire ministry.
Martínez, a K who adapted to the minister
The holder of the Secretary of Energy, since August last year, is Dario Martinez. Rionegrino by birth, Neuquén by adoption, came to office after the departure of Sergio Lanziani, sponsored by Máximo Kirchner, who approached him from the Chamber of Deputies, where he was part of the Energy Commission.
Like all Patagonian leaders, Martínez, 46, knows the energy territory and the first thing he did in his administration was to move the entire base of operations of the secretariat to Vaca Muerta, the Neuquén oil field that represents the country’s largest energy commitment in the last decade.
His arrival coincided with the inclusion of Energy within the orbit of the Ministry of Economy led by Guzmán, leaving the Ministry of Productive Development of Matías Kulfas. With Guzmán, Martínez was building a relationship from lowest to highest, which was consolidated especially from the alignment of the secretary to the minister’s plan to reduce spending on subsidies.
Guzmán’s decision to fire Basualdo lo left Martinez in an awkward place, blurred for a fight that exceeds it, between his boss, Guzmán. and who in the internal organization chart is his subordinate, Basualdo. Part of Kirchnerism, but exposed to that scenario, Martínez could see his project of competing for governor in Neuquén in 2023 jeopardized. Although the situation today shows him facing a steep ledge that distances him from any medium-term project.
The Secretary of Energy Darío Martínez, with Alberto Fernández.
Basualdo, as exposed in these stressful days, It is the virtual number two of the secretariat. After his tenure as head of the National Energy Regulatory Entity (ENRE) until the middle of last year, there was speculation about his candidacy for the post of Secretary of Energy. But due to his low profile, and because of the government’s need not to appoint an official so extreme in his loyalty to Cristina to the post, he became head of one of the four undersecretaries within the energy portfolio.
Born in Mexico during the exile of his parents, the 42-year-old official responds directly to La Cámpora, to the point of having been a columnist repeatedly for El Cohete a la Luna, the ultrakirchnerist blog run by journalist Horacio Verbitsky, from where during the macrista government wrote articles critical of the energy policy of those years. His relationship with Martínez is limited to the strictly labor, but it is far from showing closeness in the day to day to who is its boss.
Federico Basualdo, the undersecretary of Electric Power who refuses to leave his post.
Bernal and Manín, same profile as Basualdo
Perhaps the most openly Kirchnerist official within the energy cabinet is Federico Bernal, the controller of Enargas since March 2020. The 47-year-old Bernal is an official who is also referred to by Vice President Cristina Kirchner.
He was Cristina’s advisor in the Senate, from 2017 to 2019 and had previously worked in the Federal Planning Ministry led by Julio De Vido. His first decision, in the ENRE was to criminally denounce Juan José Aranguren for his management at the head of Energy, then ministry, during macrismo.
His name was another that sounded strong when Lanziani left office and Martínez was elected, who prevailed as a more “moderate” option. Active tweeter, in the last hours it was asked in that social network if the fight Basualdo vs. Guzmán “is what really interests Argentines in public services.”
The other regulatory entity, Electricity, is in charge of Soledad Manin since Basualdo became secretary of Electric Power. The 39-year-old civil servant had been working under Basualdo in the IN RE and was promoted.
His ties to politics go back almost to his birth. She is the sister of Laura Manín, undersecretary of administrative management in the Ministry of the Interior headed by Eduardo de Pedro. Their father, Manuel Manín, was mayor of Lobos for the PJ, from 1991 to 1995.
Full control over YPF
.If Kirchnerism already enjoyed influence within YPF Since the beginning of Alberto Fernández’s administration, the landing of Pablo González as president of the company definitely confirmed that La Cámpora and dolphins aligned with Máximo and Cristina took control of the oil company state.
Gonzalez replaced Guillermo Nielsen last January, the economist who had led the company and who had the backing of Alberto Fernández. Throughout 2020, Nielsen was expected to step aside, in a context of constant pressure from La Cámpora, which controlled the key positions of the structure, with Santiago “Patucho” Álvarez, Vice President of Corporate Affairs as the main reference.
Pablo González, head of YPF since January of this year.
The santacruceño Gonzalez, 52, is a real penguin of the first hour. Néstor Kirchner’s main advisor in his years in the Santa Cruz governorate, he became deputy governor of that province from 2015 to 2019, before being also elected as a national deputy, a position he held until Cristina Kirchner summoned him to take charge of a González company He is in charge of a company that foresees investments for this year for US $ 2,700 million.
Before the arrival of González, in April 2020, as CEO had assumed Sergio Affronti, who had previously been CFO and had worked in the company during the period of Miguel Galuccio, the man Cristina Kirchner appointed as owner when it was expropriated from Repsol in 2012.
The second lines, in tune
The weight of hard Kirchnerism in the sector is also seen in the second lines. An official loyal to Cristina also controls Yacyretá. Is about Ignacio Barrios Arrechea, a 47-year-old logging businessman from Misiones and the son of Ricardo Barrios Arrechea, who was provincial governor from 1983 to 1989. Radical from the cradle, he approached Kirchnerism in Cristina’s presidency, and took a selfie with her. He has been in charge of the electric dam since last June.
Two other strategic chairs in the sector managed by officials related to Kirchnerism are IEASA Y POT. The former Enarsa has been chaired since February by Agustin Geréz, a young lawyer who served as legal advisor to the former Ministry of Planning of Julio De Vido, from 2008 to 2013, and which later became part of the company that he heads today, to which he returned again in the current government, to replace Enrique Cirnigliaro, who had arrived from Santa Cruz, with the permission of Alicia Kirchner.
In the case of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina, the company that manages the Atucha I and II nuclear power plants and Embalse Río Tercero, recently became president Jose Luis Antunez, who had already directed the state company from 2005 to 2015, during the mandate of Néstor Kirchner and the next two of Cristina.
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