Jorge Capitanich

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Jorge Capitanich
Governor of Chaco
Assumed office
February 27, 2015
Lieutenant Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff
Preceded by Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
In office
20 November 2013 – 26 February 2015
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Preceded by Juan Manuel Abal Medina
Succeeded by Aníbal Fernández
Governor of Chaco
In office
10 December 2007 – 20 November 2013
Lieutenant Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff
Preceded by Roy Nikisch
Succeeded by Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
In office
2 January 2002 – 3 May 2002
President Eduardo Duhalde
Preceded by Antonio Cafiero
Succeeded by Alfredo Atanasof
Personal details
Born (1964-11-28) 28 November 1964 (age 50)
Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, Argentina
Political party Justicialist Party
Alma mater National University of the Northeast
University of Belgrano
University of San Andrés

Jorge Milton Capitanich (born November 28, 1964) is an Argentine politician, businessman, and accountant who has been Governor of the province of Chaco since February 2015. A member of the Justicialist Party, he previously served as Chief of Argentina's Cabinet of Ministers from 2013 until 2015, as Governor of Chaco province from 2007 to 2013, and as a Senator for Chaco Province from 2001 to 2007. Since 2007 he has also been president of the Sarmiento Athletic Club.

He is said to have been a favorite of the late President Nestor Kirchner,[1] and La Nación has called him “a loyal Kirchnerista since the first hour” and a perennial Peronist.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Capitanich (originally Kapitanić) descends from the first Montenegrins who settled in Chaco and created Colonia La Montenegrina, the biggest Montenegrin colony in South America. He was born in Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, the son of Daniel Capitanich and Mirca Popovich, who owned a small farm.[3] Capitanich married Sandra Mendoza, and the couple has two daughters. His nickname is “Coqui.” [2]

He attended the National University of the Northeast, graduating with a degree in accountancy in 1988. He earned a post-graduate degree in Public Administration from the University of Belgrano in 1991, and taught in his discipline. In 1999 he obtained a master's degree in Economics and Political Science at the School of Economics and Business Administration.[4]


Early political career[edit]

Capitanich took up his first position in politics in 1987, serving as private secretary to the Governor of Chaco Province, Danilo Baroni,[2] a close friend of his father-in-law. Capitanich's wife, Sandra Marcela Mendoza, whom he met in 1985, herself said: “No 23-year-old gets a job as the governor’s private secretary unless it is by the request of someone very special, like my father.”

Capitanich thereafter experienced a quick rise through the government ranks. In 1994 he was named coordinator of a private-sector jobs-creation program in the Ministry of Assistance for the Reform of the Provincial Economy. The next year he became assistant secretary for technical-administrative coordination in the Ministry of Social Development. He was appointed assistant secretary of social projects in the Ministry of Social Development in 1998, and in 2001 was named Minister of Infrastructure.[3][5]

Early business activities[edit]

Shortly after Capitanich received his masters in 1999, politician and economist Domingo Cavallo hired him to handle a bank liquidation. He also was hired as a financial adviser for the province of Formosa. While he was performing this job, according to accusations later made by Deputy Carlos Ullrich, Capitanich charged the province unusually high commissions. In a criminal complaint filed in 2002, Henos José Maza, a former Governor of the province of Formosa, charged that Capitanich's actions as an accountant for the province had been irregular.[3][4]

In the 1990s, Capitanich formed several companies, including the consultancy firm M-Unit SRL, of which he sold his share in 2002, when he became head of the Cabinet under President Duhalde. Capitanich and economist Aldo Ducler established the Fondagro investment fund together in 1997. U.S. officials investigated Ducler in 2002 on charges of laundering money for the Juárez Cartel and froze his bank accounts in New York, which contained over $13 million in Mexican narco-dollars. In response to the controversy, Capitanich sold his share in their joint business.[6][7]


Capitanich was elected Senator for Chaco Province in October 2001, and named Argentina's interim Minister of Economy of Argentina during the institutional crisis of December 21 of that year, serving for two days in the post. President Eduardo Duhalde appointed Capitanich Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers on January 2, 2002.[4] While in that position under Duhalde, Capitanich was involved in the consulting firm M-Unit, for which he was accused of arranging covert government financing.[3] He worked at M-Unit with Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, with whom he collaborated on a book.[7] Capitanich held the position of Cabinet Chief until May 2002.

He retained his Senate seat, making headlines that September for introducing legislation that would mandate mental health testing for all elected officials.[8] He endorsed Néstor Kirchner's Front for Victory in the 2003 presidential race; Kirchner was elected, but Capitanich's own 2003 bid for governor of Chaco was defeated by Roy Nikisch of the Radical Civic Union (UCR).


Capitanich, newly elected as Governor of Chaco in 2007

On 12 September 2007, he stepped down from the Senate to be elected Governor of Chaco on September 16, 2007, taking office on December 10.[9] In that election, he defeated former governor Ángel Rozas by a margin of just 0.8% of the vote.[10] Capitanich was the first Argentine of Montenegrin origin to hold the Governor's post in any province.

While he was governor of Chaco, Capitanich appointed his wife, Sandra Mendoza, to be provincial Minister of Health. Her handling of a 2009 dengue epidemic in the province was criticized because she used expired pesticides on the mosquitoes. Capitanich asked her to resign, in response to which she “jumped into her Toyota truck and proceeded to use it as a battering ram, destroying six parked cars and an entire section of the government building’s wall.” She then campaigned successfully to represent Chaco in Congress, and led a protest outside the statehouse in which 30 people were detained. She filed for divorce shortly thereafter.[5]

In May 2013, Capitanich's Vice Governor, Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff, accused him of doing nothing to combat drug trafficking. Bacileff said that Capitanich had lost control of the province and described it as being in a state of “anarchy.” One report noted that the province is located “near the smuggling hub of the Triple Frontier, which is a major transit point for drugs smuggled out of Paraguay and into Argentina.” Members of the opposition UCR filed a petition to investigate Bacileff's charges.[11]

Public Works[edit]

In 2010, while he was governor of Chaco Province, Capitanich was questioned about his management of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Foundation's Sueños Compartidos (Shared Dreams) housing construction program. He was accused of involvement in various irregularities, including overpricing and substandard construction.[6] In February 2014, Capitanich dismissed a General Audit Office (AGN) report stating that nearly 150 million pesos (US$20 million) had been diverted from the “Shared Dreams” program during his tenure as governor and paid to corporations that had no connection with housing construction. Capitanich denied any irregularities and called the GAO a “tool” of the political opposition whose objective was to “attack the government.”[12][13]

Capitanich nevertheless presided over record investments into public works in general, including the completion of 28 community centers, 41 schools, sewerage connections for 150,000 households (half the total number of households),[14] 500 kilometres (310 mi) of new highways, and fiber optic cable connections for 66 of 69 municipalities in the province;[15] these works created employment for 12-14,000 construction workers.[14]

Cabinet Chief[edit]

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appointed Capitanich Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers in November 2013.

Capitanich and his predecessors as Cabinet Chief, Juan Manuel Abal Medina and Aníbal Fernández, were charged by the federal prosecutor in 2014 in connection with suspected abuse of federal funds in the “Fútbol para Todos” program.[16]

Capitanich and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman both harshly criticized Germany in September 2014. Capitanich accused Germany of having a “hostile attitude” toward Argentina and of showing “favoritism” toward the vulture funds and other holdout bondholders.[17] In September 2014, commenting on the U.S. role in Argentina's bond dispute with vulture funds (which demanded other bondholders' payments be blocked until they collected up to 16 times what they had paid for said bonds from resellers),[18] Capitanich compared the United States to an adult who rapes his own child. Eduardo Amadeo, former Argentine Ambassador to the U.S. and opposition congressman, said that Capitanich's “vulgarity” was a sign of “a weak government” that was courting conflict with the U.S. “to cover his own failure.”[19]

Kevin Sullivan, the chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, told Clarín in September 2014 that it was “important for Argentina to exit default as soon as possible to return to the path of growth and attract the investment it needs.” In response, Capitanich, reflecting the official Argentinian view that the country was not in default, called Sullivan's remarks “incorrect, unfortunate, and inappropriate” and said that they “constitute undue interference in the country's sovereignty.”[20]

Capitanich destroying a page from Clarín after wrongly accusing the newspaper of publishing false information.

At a news conference in January 2015, Capitanich rejected charges by prosecutor Alberto Nisman that the government had covered up a probe into the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Capitanich called the charges part of an international conspiracy against Argentina.[21]

On February 3, 2015, Capitanich ripped up a page from the newspaper Clarin during a televised press conference, claiming that a report in the newspaper was completely false. The report stated that a draft warrant for the arrest of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had been found after the January 18 death of Prosecutor Alberto Nisman. “The battle between the Kirchners and Clarín goes back years, but Capitanich's actions ripping up a newspaper report were a new low for the government,” maintained one commentator. “A cabinet member destroying a newspaper was an implicit threat against a top opposition media outlet.” Hours after Capitanich's press conference, prosecutor Viviana Fein confirmed that the document existed and Clarín published photos of it.[22][23][24]

Capitanich was dismissed as Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers in February 26, 2015.

On February 26, 2015, Capitanich announced his intention to run for mayor of Resistencia.[25] The next day he resumed the post of Governor of Chaco province, which fell to him automatically.[26]

Honors and awards[edit]

Capitanich received the Annual ADEBA (Association of Argentine Banks) Award in 1997 for efficiency in social spending.[27]

He was given a Konex Award in 2008 in recognition of his career as a senator.


  1. ^ Leuco, Alfredo (Nov 29, 2013). "El socio de Coqui". Perfil. 
  2. ^ a b c "Quién es quién en el nuevo gabinete". La Nacion. Nov 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Argentina, Chaco: ¿Quien es Jorge Milton Capitanich Popovich?". Bajando Lineas. Jun 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Bendición presidencial para Capitanich: triple mal trago para Gildo Insfrán". Misiones para Todos. 
  5. ^ a b Beaudette, Noah (Dec 20, 2013). "If Capitanich Wants to be President, He Needs a (Non) Crazy Ex-wife". The Bubble. 
  6. ^ a b "Dos denuncias de corrupción que salpicaron a Jorge Capitanich". La Nacion. Nov 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Sanz, Christian; Forte, Carlos (Jan 29, 2014). "Aldo Ducler, el narcolavador socio de Capitanich y los Kirchner". Periodico Tribuna. 
  8. ^ "Madness checks for Argentine politicians". BBC News Online. 12 September 2002. ,
  9. ^ Montenegrina: Argentinac crnogorskog porijekla postao guverner argentinske provincije Chaco!
  10. ^ Chaco: Jorge Capitanich se impuso por menos del 0,8% y se proclamó gobernador
  11. ^ Bargent, James (May 15, 2013). "Drug Trade "Anarchy" in Argentina Border State Sparks Controversy". Insight Crime. 
  12. ^ "Jorge Capitanich defendió el plan Sueños Compartidos de Sergio Schoklender y Hebe de Bonafini". La Nacion. Feb 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Capitanich defendió a Schoklender y Bonafini ante las denuncias de corrupción". Clarin. Feb 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Capitanich analizó el plan de obras públicas". Emprender en la región. 
  15. ^ "Capitanich: En 8 años de gestión cumpliremos una meta de casi 500 kilómetros de rutas pavimentadas". Chaco Federal. 5 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Police Raid Football Clubs Over Corruption Claims". Argentina Independent. Nov 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Gov't fires back at ATFA, Germany's Finance Minister over debt battle". Buenos Aires Herald. Sep 24, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Argentina's Griesafault". Project Syndicate. 7 August 2014. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  19. ^ "Jorge Capitanich y una comparación desafortunada entre Estados Unidos y una "persona grandota que viola a una hija"". La Nacion. Sep 29, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Argentina summons US diplomat over default comments". Yahoo. Sep 16, 2014. 
  21. ^ Turner, Taos (Jan 15, 2015). "Argentina’s Jews Reel From New Twist in Terror Probe". Wall Stret Journal. 
  22. ^ "Documentos confirman que Nisman pensó en pedir el arresto de Cristina". Clarín. 2 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Nisman habría pensado en pedir la detención de Cristina". Clarín. 31 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Gesto peligroso: Capitanich rompió páginas de Clarín". Clarín. 2 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. 
  25. ^ "Cristina desplazó a Jorge Capitanich de la Jefatura de Gabinete y designó a Aníbal Fernández; entra al Gobierno el camporista Eduardo "Wado" de Pedro". La Nacion. Feb 26, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Jorge Capitanich reasumió en Chaco: echó a todos los ministros y suspendió la campaña electoral del peronismo". La Nación. Feb 27, 2015. 
  27. ^ The prize was shared among accountatnt Jorge Milton Capitanich and the attorneys Roxana Cecilia Giradles and Violeta Adriana Ruiz. "Historia del Premio Adeba (History of the Abeda Prize)" (in Spanish). ADEBA (Association of Argentine Banks). Archived from the original on 17 May 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Domingo Cavallo
Minister of Economy

Succeeded by
Rodolfo Frigeri
Preceded by
Antonio Cafiero
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
Succeeded by
Alfredo Atanasof
Preceded by
Roy Nikisch
Governor of Chaco
Succeeded by
Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff
Preceded by
Juan Manuel Abal Medina
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
Succeeded by
Aníbal Fernández