Alberto Fernández

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Alberto Fernández
Alberto fernandez presidente (cropped).jpg
Fernández at his inauguration
President of Argentina
Assumed office
10 December 2019
Vice PresidentCristina Fernández de Kirchner
Preceded byMauricio Macri
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
In office
25 May 2003 – 23 July 2008
PresidentNéstor Kirchner
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Preceded byAlfredo Atanasof
Succeeded bySergio Massa
Legislator of the City of Buenos Aires
In office
7 August 2000 – 25 May 2003
Superintendent of Insurance
In office
1 August 1989 – 8 December 1995
PresidentCarlos Menem
Preceded byDiego Peluffo
Succeeded byClaudio Moroni
Personal details
Born
Alberto Ángel Fernández

(1959-04-02) 2 April 1959 (age 61)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Political partyJusticialist Party (1983–present)
UNIR Constitutional Nationalist Party (1982–1983)
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Spouse(s)
Marcela Luchetti
(m. 1993; div. 2005)
Domestic partnerFabiola Yáñez (2014–present)[1]
ChildrenEstanislao (b. 1994)
ResidenceQuinta presidencial de Olivos
Alma materUniversity of Buenos Aires
Signature

Alberto Ángel Fernández (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈβeɾto ferˈnandes]; born 2 April 1959) is an Argentine politician, professor, and lawyer, and is the President of Argentina since 2019.[2]

A member of the Justicialist Party, he was Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers during the entirety of the presidency of Néstor Kirchner and the early months of the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. He won the 2019 general election with 48% of the vote, defeating incumbent President Mauricio Macri.

Early life and career[edit]

Fernández was born in Buenos Aires, son of Celia Pérez and her first husband. Separated from the latter, Celia (sister of the personal photographer of Juan Domingo Perón) married Judge Carlos Pelagio Galíndez (son of a Senator of the Radical Civic Union).[3] Alberto Fernández, who barely knew his biological father, considers Pelagio to be his true father.[3][4]

Alberto Fernández attended Law School at the University of Buenos Aires. He graduated at the age of 24, and later became a professor of criminal law. He entered public service as an adviser to Deliberative Council of Buenos Aires and the Argentine Chamber of Deputies. He became Deputy Director of Legal Affairs of the Economy Ministry, and in this capacity served as chief Argentine negotiator at the GATT Uruguay Round. Nominated by newly elected President Carlos Menem to serve as National Superintendent for Insurance, served as President of the Latin American Insurance Managers' Association from 1989 to 1992, and co-founded the Insurance Managers International Association. He also served as adviser to Mercosur and ALADI on insurance law, and was involved in insurance and health services companies in the private sector. Fernández was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young People of Argentina in 1992, and was awarded the Millennium Award as one of the nation's Businessmen of the Century, among other recognitions.[5] During this time he became politically close to former Buenos Aires Province Governor Eduardo Duhalde.[6]

Fernández (right) with President Néstor Kirchner and Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana in 2007.

He was elected on 7 June 2000, to the Buenos Aires City Legislature on the conservative Action for the Republic ticket led by former Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo.

Chief of the Cabinet (2003–2008)[edit]

Fernández (right) took oath as the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on 10 December 2007

He gave up his seat when he was appointed Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers by President Néstor Kirchner upon taking office on 25 May 2003, and retained the same post under Kirchner's wife and successor, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, upon her election in 2007.[7][8]

A new system of variable taxes on agricultural exports led to the 2008 Argentine government conflict with the agricultural sector, during which Fernández acted as the government's chief negotiator. The negotiations failed, however, and following Vice President Julio Cobos' surprise, tie-breaking vote against the bill in the Senate, Fernández resigned on 23 July 2008.[9]

Pre-presidency[edit]

He was named head of the City of Buenos Aires chapter of the Justicialist Party, but minimized his involvement in Front for Victory campaigns for Congress in 2009.[10] Fernández actively considered seeking the Justicialist Party presidential nomination ahead of the 2011 general elections.[11] He ultimately endorsed President Cristina Kirchner for re-election, however.[12] He was campaign manager of the presidential candidacy of Sergio Massa in 2015.[13]

Presidential elections[edit]

Presidential campaign[edit]

On 18 May 2019, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced that Fernández would be a candidate for president, and that she would run for vice president alongside him, hosting his first campaign rally with Santa Cruz Governor Alicia Kirchner, sister-in-law of the former Kirchner.[14][15]

About a month later, seeking to broaden his appeal to moderates, Fernández struck a deal with Sergio Massa to form an alliance called Frente de Todos, wherein Massa would be offered a role within a potential Fernández administration, or be given a key role within the Chamber of Deputies in exchange for dropping out of the presidential race and offering his support.[16] Fernández also earned the endorsement of the General Confederation of Labor, receiving their support in exchange for promising that he will boost the economy, and that there will be no labor reform.[17]

General elections[edit]

On 11 August 2019, Fernández won first place in the 2019 primary elections, earning 47.7% of the vote, compared to incumbent President Mauricio Macri's 31.8%.[18] Fernández thereafter held a press conference where he said he called Macri to say that he would help Macri complete his term and "bring calm to society and markets," and that his economic proposals do not run the risk of defaulting on the national debt.[19]

President-elect Fernández meets with outgoing President Macri following national elections that took place the previous day.

In the 27 October general election, Fernández won the presidency by attaining 48.1% of the vote to Macri's 40.4%, exceeding the threshold required to win without the need for a ballotage.[20]

Presidency[edit]

Presidential styles of
Alberto Fernández
Standard of the President of Argentina Afloat.svg
Reference styleExcelentísimo Señor Presidente de la Nación (Most Excellent President of the Nation)
Spoken stylePresidente de la Nación (President of the Nation)
Alternative styleSeñor Presidente (Mister President)

Inauguration[edit]

President Alberto Fernández (left) with his Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (right)

Fernández was sworn in on 10 December 2019.

Economic policy[edit]

On 14 December, the government established by decree the emergency in occupational matters and double compensation for dismissal without just cause for six months.[21]

His first legislative initiative, the Social Solidarity and Productive Recovery Bill, was passed by Congress on 23 December.[22] The bill includes tax hikes on foreign currency purchases, agricultural exports, wealth, and car sales - as well as tax incentives for production. Amid the worst recession in nearly two decades, it provides a 180-day freeze on utility rates, bonuses for the nation's retirees and Universal Allocation per Child beneficiaries, and food cards to two million of Argentina's poorest families. It also gave the president additional powers to renegotiate debt terms – with Argentina seeking to restructure its US$100 billion debt with private bondholders and US$45 billion borrowed by Macri from the International Monetary Fund.[22]

Organizations of the agricultural sector, including Sociedad Rural Argentina, CONINAGRO, Argentine Agrarian Federation and Argentine Rural Confederations, rejected the increase in taxes on agricultural exports. Despite these conflicts, Fernández announced the three-point increase in withholding tax on soybeans on the day of the opening of the regular sessions, on 1 March and generated major problems in the relationship between the government and the agricultural sector.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30]

Argentina defaulted again on May 22, 2020 by failing to pay $500 million on its due date to its creditors. Negotiations for the restructuring of $66 billion of its debt continue.[31]

The International Monetary Fund reported that the COVID-19 crisis would plunge Argentina's GDP by 9.9 percent, after the country's economy contracted by 5.4 percent in first quarter of 2020, with unemployment rising over 10.4 percent in the first three months of the year, before the lockdown started.[32][33][34]

On August 4, Fernández reached an accord with the biggest creditors on terms for a restructuring of $65bn in foreign bonds, after a breakthrough in talks that had at times looked close to collapse since the country's ninth debt default in May.[35]

On September 22, official reports showed a 19% year-on-year drop in the GDP for the second quarter of 2020, the biggest drop in the country's history.[36][37] Investment went down 38% from the previous year.[36][37]

Social policy[edit]

On 31 December, Fernández announced that he will send a bill in 2020 to discuss the legalization of abortion, ratified his support for its approval, and expressed his wish for "sensible debate”.[38] However, in June 2020 he stated that he was "attending to more urgent matters" (referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the debt restructuring), and that "he'll send the bill at some point".[39]

On 1 March, he also announced a restructuring of the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), including the publications of its accounts - which had been made secret by Macri in a 2016 decree.[40][41] The AFI had been criticized for targeting public figures for political purposes.[40]

On August 17, protests took place in many cities across Argentina against measures taken by Fernández, primarily the Justice Reform Bill his government had sent to the Congress, but also, among other causes: for the "defense of institutions" and "separation of powers", against the government's quarantine measures, the perceived lack of liberty and the increase in crime, and a raise on state pensions.[42][43]

Foreign relations[edit]

Meeting with Pope Francis on 31 January 2020.

His relations are strained with Jair Bolsonaro, who refused to attend his inauguration, accusing him of wanting to create a "great Bolivarian homeland" on the border and of preparing to provoke a flight of capital and companies into Brazil. Donald Trump's top adviser for the Western Hemisphere, Mauricio Claver, warned him in 2019 saying: "We want to know if Alberto Fernández will be a defender of democracy or an apologist for dictatorships and leaders in the region, whether it be Maduro, Correa or Morales."[44]

Alberto Fernández questioned the conclusions the Organization of American States that the reelection of Evo Morales was unconstitutional for electoral fraud. Fernández legitimized Morales as President of Bolivia, and granted him asylum in Argentina in December 2019.[45][46]

Coronavirus pandemic[edit]

The announcement of the lockdown by Fernández was generally well received, although there were concerns with its economic impact.[47]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fernandez's government announced a country-wide lockdown, in effect from 20 March until 31 March, later extended until 12 April.[48][49] The lockdown was further renewed on April 27, May 11, May 25, June 8, July 1, July 18, August 3, August 17, August 31 and September 21, and included several measures including travel, transport and citizen movement restrictions, stay-at-home orders, store closures and reduced operating hours.[50]

Responses to the outbreak have included restrictions on commerce and movement, closure of borders, and the closure of schools and educational institutions.[51] The announcement of the lockdown was generally well received, although there were concerns with its economic impact in the already delicate state of Argentina's economy, with analysts predicting at least 3% GDP decrease in 2020.[52][53] Fernandez later announced a 700 billion pesos (US$11.1 billion) stimulus package, worth 2% of the country's GDP.[54][55][52] After announced a mandatory quarantine to every person that returned to Argentina from highly affected countries,[56][57] the government closed its borders, ports, and suspended flights.[51][58]

On 23 March, Fernández asked the Chinese president Xi Jinping for 1,500 ventilators as Argentina had only 8,890 available.[59][60]

Included in the package was the announcement of a one-time emergency payment of 10,000 pesos (US$152, as of March 20) to lower-income individuals whose income was affected by the lockdown, including retirees.[61] Because banks were excluded in the list of businesses that were considered essential in Fernandez's lockdown decree, they remained closed until the Central Bank announced banks would open during a weekend starting on 3 April.[62]

Due to Argentina's notoriously low level of banking penetration, many Argentines, particularly retirees, do not possess bank accounts and are used to withdraw funds and pensions in cash.[63] The decision to open banks for only three days on a reduced-hours basis sparked widespread outrage as hundreds of thousands of retirees (coronavirus' highest risk group) flocked to bank branches in order to withdraw their monthly pension and emergency payment.[64][65][66][67]

Due to the national lockdown, the economical activity suffered a collapse of nearly 10% in March 2020 according to a consultant firm. The highest drop was of the construction sector (32%) versus March 2019. Every economical sector suffered a collapse, with finance, commerce, manufacturing industry and mining being the most affected. The agriculture sector was the least affected, but overall the economic activity for the first trimester of 2020 accumulates a 5% contraction. It is expected that the extension of the lockdown beyond April would increase the collapse of the Argentinian economy.[68] On March, the primary fiscal deficit jumped to US$1,394 million, an 857% increase year-to-year. This was due to the public spending to combat the pandemic and the drop in tax collection due to low activity in a context of social isolation.[69]

Despite the government's hard lockdown policy, Fernández has been criticized[70] for not following the appropriate protocols himself. This included traveling throughout the country, taking pictures with large groups of supporters without properly wearing a mask nor respecting social distancing,[71] and holding social gatherings with union leaders.[72]

On September 3, despite most local governments still enforcing strict lockdown measures, Fernández stated that "there is no lockdown",[73] and that such thoughts had "been instilled by the opposition", as part of a political agenda.[74]

Controversies[edit]

Fernández has engaged in disputes with users on Twitter before his presidency, in which his reactions have been regarded as aggressive or violent by some.[75][76][77] Tweets show him responding to other users with expletives such as "pelotudo" (Argentinian slang for "asshole"),[78][79] "pajero" ("wanker"),[80][76] and "hijo de puta" ("son of a bitch"),[81][82] as well as telling a user "Faggot [is not] an insult [...] I even think faggots have more dignity than you.".[83] He also called presidential candidate José Luis Espert "Pajert", a word play between his last name and the Argentine slang for "wanker".[79]

In December 2017, he responded to a female Twitter user by saying "Girl, what you think doesn't worry me. You better learn how to cook. Maybe then you can do something right. Thinking is not your strong suit".[84][85]

In June 2020 he told journalist Cristina Pérez to "go read the Constitution" after being questioned about his attempts to install a government-designated administration in the Vicentín agricultural conglomerate.[86]

Personal life[edit]

Fernández married a fellow University of Buenos Aires law student, Marcela Luchetti, in 1993.[87] They separated in 2005.[88] Fernández and Luchetti have a single child, Estanislao (born 1994), known in Argentina for being a drag performer and cosplayer who goes by the stage name Dyhzy.[89][90] Fernández is a supporter of Argentinos Juniors' football team.[91]

Since 2014, Fernández has been in a relationship with journalist and stage actress Fabiola Yáñez, who has fulfilled the role of First Lady of Argentina since Fernández's presidency began.[1] The couple own three dogs: Dylan[92] (named after Bob Dylan, whom Fernández has praised and cited as an inspiration[93]) and two of Dylan's puppies, Prócer[94] and Kaila.[95]

References[edit]

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  70. ^ "Por qué Alberto Fernández no debería saludar con un abrazo". Chequeado (in Spanish).
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  77. ^ "El video que expone lo peor de Alberto: sus agresiones "épicas" son virales" [The video that exposes Alberto's worst: his "epic" attacks are viral]. infotechnology.com (in Spanish).
  78. ^ @alferdez (19 March 2019). "Que pedazo de pelotudo resultaste. Pasaste de hacerme reír a tener pena por tu imbecilidad. Solo agradece que mi paciencia es infinita. Y rogá que tus imbéciles prepoteadas un día no se crucen con alguien sanguíneo. Seguí tu vida. Pelotudo."" [What an asshole you turned out to be. You went from making me laugh to being sorry for your stupidity. Just be thankful that my patience is infinite. And pray that one day your prepotent idiocies don't cross paths with someone with blood. Go on with your life. Asshole."] (Tweet) (in Spanish) – via Twitter.
  79. ^ a b "Los insultos de Alberto Fernández a los usuarios en las redes sociales" [Alberto Fernandez's insults to social media users]. La Nación (in Spanish). 20 May 2019.
  80. ^ @alferdez (6 April 2019). "Pajero y pelotudo... lo tuyo no tiene cura. Y no te insulto. Te describo" [Wanker and asshole... your thing has no cure. And I don't insult you. I describe you.] (Tweet) (in Spanish) – via Twitter.
  81. ^ @alferdez (26 March 2019). "Andamos muy bien, pedazo de hijo de puta" [We're doing fine, you son of a bitch] (Tweet) (in Spanish) – via Twitter.
  82. ^ "El año de Alberto en Twitter: insultos, gifs graciosos y guiños para la unidad anti Macri" [A year of Alberto on Twitter: swearing, funny gifs and winks towards an anti-Macri ensemble]. A24 (in Spanish). 8 November 2019.
  83. ^ @alferdez (6 May 2013). "Imbecil. No te digo puto porque eso no es un insulto. Hasta creo que los putos son más dignos que vos" [Idiot. I'm not calling you a faggot because that's not an insult. I even think faggots have more dignity than you.] (Tweet) (in Spanish) – via Twitter.
  84. ^ @alferdez (11 December 2017). "Nena, no es algo que me inquiete lo que vos creas. Mejor aprende a cocinar. Tal vez así logres hacer algo bien. Pensar no es tu fuerte. Está visto" [Girl, what you think doesn't worry me. You better learn how to cook. Maybe then you can do something right. Thinking is not your strong suit. It's seen.] (Tweet) (in Spanish) – via Twitter.
  85. ^ ""Mejor aprende a cocinar": Usuarios reviven polémicos tuits del nuevo presidente de Argentina" ["You better learn how to cook": Users revive new Argentine president's polemic tweets]. Radio Programas del Perú (in Spanish). 28 October 2019.
  86. ^ "El tenso cruce entre Alberto Fernández y Cristina Pérez durante una entrevista" [The tense crossing between Alberto Fernández and Cristina Pérez during an interview]. Infobae (in Spanish).
  87. ^ Mercado, Silvia (2 April 2020). "Alberto Fernández cumple 61 años: 61 fotos de su vida". Infobae (in Spanish). Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  88. ^ Gallardo, Agustín (15 December 2019). "Marcela Luchetti, la primera mujer de Alberto Fernández y madre de Estanislao". Perfil (in Spanish). Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  89. ^ Leighton-Dore, Samuel (7 November 2019). "Argentina's next president says he is 'proud' of his drag queen son". SBS. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  90. ^ Sánchez Granel, Guadalupe (10 December 2019). "Quién es el hijo de Alberto Fernández". El Cronista (in Spanish). Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  91. ^ Anguita, Eduardo; Cecchini, Daniel (16 May 2020). "Argentinos Juniors, el club que enloquece a Alberto Fernández: anarquistas, cracks y la oscura presencia de un represor". Infobae (in Spanish). Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  92. ^ "Dylan, el Collie "nacional y popular" de Alberto Fernández que es furor en las redes sociales". Infobae (in Spanish). 11 August 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  93. ^ "Dylan o Perón, una entrevista con Alberto Fernández". Presentarse (in Spanish). 26 July 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  94. ^ "Alberto Fernández presentó a su nuevo perro Prócer, el hijo de Dylan". Clarín (in Spanish). 20 November 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  95. ^ "Alberto Fernández presentó en las redes sociales a la nueva hija de su perro Dylan". Infobae (in Spanish). 16 June 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alfredo Atanasof
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers of Argentina
2003–2008
Succeeded by
Sergio Massa
Preceded by
Mauricio Macri
President of Argentina
2019–present
Incumbent