Things are moving in the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Although the Scourge of Statisticians Guillermo Moreno hasn't been removed (yet?), Secretary of Agriculture Javier de Urquiza had to go, and today the unthinkable happened: Chief of Cabinet Alberto Fernández has resigned. De Urquiza was replaced by Carlos Cheppi, formerly head of INTA (the National Agricultural Technology Institute). Fernández's place will be filled by Sergio Massa, up to now mayor of Tigre, Buenos Aires, who led ANSES (the National Social Security Administration) back in 2002. On inquiry, Massa said he'll be there to serve as "the President's spare tire". What personality.
Alberto Fernández, the man I once called "quite possibly the most aggressively ignorant and intolerant minister Argentina has ever had" and "that filthy rat", has been with us for a long time; when Cristina Kirchner was elected he was one of the many things left over from Néstor's government she should've thrown away as quickly as possible, and didn't. As both presidents' mouthpiece (the official spokesman for the Presidency was merely decorative), Alberto was in charge of implementing the policy of constant derision of the opposition and the media that made Néstor Kirchner well-known as a "strong and confrontational leader" — which he was, until he became simply a bully. But Fernández started to fade together with the Kirchners' popularity ratings, and he just wasn't himself since the long farm tax crisis began, during which he conducted unsuccessful meetings with the farming leaders. Rumours of his resignation had popped up every now and then since April or May.
This government defends its own members more than it cares for its own sustainability, its image, or its results. Fernández should've been expelled when he was the most aggressive and the most unpleasant in the eyes of public opinion; most people would've liked his shrill voice to be silenced, and the government would've scored points; now his resignation won't serve any real purpose. But hey, one less Fernández can't be a bad thing altogether.
Some recent pearls of wisdom from Alberto Fernández:
- In May 2007, as inflation grew beyond the obfuscation powers of Guillermo Moreno's INDEC: "The opposition candidates are dealing irresponsibly with the issue of inflation… They're trying to create inflationary expectations in order to ruin Argentinians' lives."
- In August: "[After Néstor Kirchner's four year term] we are standing at the gates of paradise."
- In September: "There's no inflation in Argentina."
- After the 2007 presidential election, which Cristina won in the countryside (!) and lost in the big cities (Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario): "I ask porteños to stop voting and thinking as if they were an island."