In a high-profile move that drew attention
both local and international, President Mauricio
Macri announced on Monday that he was
issuing a decree that banned relatives of ministers
from serving in the national government.
The move after a wave of criticism over actions
taken by Labour Minister Jorge Triaca.
In addition, Executive branch employees
will receive no pay raises this year, Macri
announced, adding that his administration
will cut one out of every four “political positions”
appointed by ministers. The firings are
expected to save US$77 million a year, the
“I hope that this is an example for Argentine
politics in its entirety. I invite all jurisdictions
in the country to do the same,” Macri
said at a press conference.
The change will apply to relatives linked
to ministers by blood or marriage to the
second degree, Perfil reported. The measure
will affect at least five ministers to
varying degrees. The decree will hit Triaca
the hardest, with four relatives eligible for
removal under such conditions.
The Labour minister became the focus of
a massive scandal on January 17 when voice
messages he sent to his former housekeeper
and assistant Sandra Heredia went viral. In
the messages Triaca raises his voice in anger
and calls Heredia a “pelotuda” (roughly
Heredia also said Triaca paid her under the
table up until 20 days before Macri won the
2015 election. Triaca apologised for the language
and denied paying Heredia without a
contract, but Heredia is suing for damages.
As the scandal refused to drop out of the
media cycle, the government came out to
defend the minister. Two days after the news
first broke, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña publicly
stood by Triaca, saying the messages
were not “something that should cost him his
job” and praising his performance as Labour
minister so far. Macri later publicly supported
Triaca as well.
However, in the following days, Triaca
found himself repeatedly on the nation’s
frontpages, with the minister facing alleged
nepotism claims over number of his relatives
employed in state positions.
Triaca, tasked with leading the charge to
pass a controversial labour reform in the
coming months, has a tough job ahead of
him, scandal or no.
In the face of intense lobbying from union
leaders and following the violent protests
late last year that erupted amid a complicated
pension reform, Macri said this week scale
back the proposed legislation, splitting it
into two or three bills the administration will
present to Congress in March once it reaches
an agreement with union leadership.
Triaca isn’t the only minister fighting
against personal scandal. In October 2017,
Macri appointed Luis Miguel Etchevehere to
be the new agro-industry minister.
In December, Perfil reported that Etchevehere
had asked the Rural Society of Argentina
(SRA), where he had previously been
president, for a bonus of 500,000 pesos before
he left the job for public office.
Amid intense public pressure and an Office
of Corruption (OA) investigation, Etchevehere
announced he would return the money to
the SRA on Thursday, hoping to draw a line
under the scandal.