Jorge Capitanich

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Jorge Capitanich
Jorge Capitanich -presidenciagovar - 9OCT07.jpg
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
In office
2 January 2002 – 3 May 2002
President Eduardo Duhalde
Preceded by Antonio Cafiero
Succeeded by Alfredo Atanasof
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
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.

Capitanich's career, stated La Nación in November 2013, has been “punctuated by harsh allegations of corruption.”[1] He has been described elsewhere as “a true symbol of the corruption of politics in Argentina”[2] He is said to have been a favorite of the late President Nestor Kirchner,[3] and La Nación has called him “a loyal Kirchnerista since the first hour” and a perennial Peronist. As of November 2013, he was considered a leading contender in the presidential election of 2015.[4]

His nickname is “Coqui.”

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.[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.[5]

Capitanich destroying a Clarín newspaper after wrongly accusing the newspaper of publishing false information. 2015

Career[edit]

Early political career[edit]

Capitanich took up his first position in politics in 1987, serving as private secretary to the Governor of Chaco province, Luis Danilo Baroni,[4] 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. In 1998, he was appointed assistant secretary of social projects in the Ministry of Social Development. And in 2001, he was named Minister of Infrastructure.[2][6]

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.[2][5]

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. In 1997, Capitanich and economist Aldo Ducler, whom Néstor Kirchner employed to send irregularly obtained funds abroad, established the Fondagro investment fund together. In 2002, the U.S. investigated Ducler on charges of laundering money for the Juarez 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.[1][7]

Senate[edit]

Capitanich was elected Senator for Chaco 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.[5] 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.[2] 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, and supported President Néstor Kirchner's Front for Victory. In 2003 he stood to be governor of Chaco, but was defeated by Roy Nikisch of the Radical Civic Union.

Governor[edit]

On 12 September 2007, he stepped down from the senate to be elected Governor of Chaco on 16 September 2007, taking office on December 10.[8] In that election, he defeated former governor Ángel Rozas by a margin of just 0.8% of the vote.[9] 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.[6]

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,” and that the Sinaloa Cartel allegedly produces and distributes synthetic drugs in the province. Members of the opposition Radical Civil Union Party (UCR) filed a petition to investigate Bacileff's charges.[10]

Shared Dreams[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.[1] In February 2014, Capitanich dismissed a General Audit Office (AGN) report stating that nearly 150 millions pesos 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.”[11][12]

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.[13]

It was reported on August 19, 2014, that Elliott Management, Argentina's leading holdout creditor, planned to subpoena companies tied to Kirchner businessmen Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López in order to identify and seize improperly diverted public assets and to focus a spotlight on the corruption of the Kirchner government. Elliott's lawyer Robert Cohen stated that the investigation would not only benefit Elliott but would also have “the added advantage of exposing corruption in Argentina.” In response to this development, Capitanich harshly criticized Elliott and another holdout firm, Aurelius, calling them “small, voracious interests that form a real international mafia.”[14]

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,” i.e. Argentina's holdout creditors.[15]

In September 2014, commenting on the U.S. role in Argentina's debt conflict, Capitanich compared the United States to an adult who rapes his own child. Eduardo Amadeo, former Argentinian Ambassador to the U.S., said that Capitanich's “vulgarity” was a sign of “a weak government” that was courting conflict with the U.S. “to cover its internal failure.”[16]

Kevin Sullivan, the chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, told Clarin 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.”[17]

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.[18]

On February 3, 2015, Capitanich ripped up a copy of 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 Fernandez de Kirchner had been found after the January 18 death of Prosector Alberto Nisman. “The battle between the Kirchners and Clarin 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 Clarin published photos of it.[19][20][21]

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.[22] The next day he resumed the post of Governor of Chaco province, which fell to him automatically.[23]

Corruption allegations[edit]

While Capitanich was working in the government of Chaco province, his office allegedly “funneled money to the media through third parties, and left hefty sums on the road by way of unnecessary fees and unnecessary middlemen,” according to charges leveled by Deputy Carlos Ullrich.[2] Capitanich also reportedly misdirected funds belonging to Santa Cruz province in a matter involving oil royalties.[3]

The newspaper Norte reported in May 2002 that Capitanich had been involved in irregularities involving an offshore bank. Capitanich was also accused of tax avoidance in connection with his ownership or part ownership of a Buenos Aires-based firm called Agronea SA. In addition, he supposedly arranged “special pensions” for his parents[2] and, in August 2009, while serving as Governor of Chaco, falsely registered his mother, Mirca Popovich, as a resident of the province in order to avoid having to pay for 30,000 pesos' worth of medical treatment, an action that violated laws against forgery, registration of a false address, and other crimes. When this offense was discovered and reported, Capitanich threatened to sue the newspaper that reported it, but he then held a press conference at which he admitted to having committed the offense and promised to pay for the medical treatment. Critics regarded his actions as particularly heinous given that Chaco is a very poor province while Capitanich was prosperous enough to afford to spend 300,000 pesos on his daughter's fifteenth birthday.[24]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 1997 Capitanich received the Annual ADEBA (Association of Argentine Banks) Award for efficiency in social spending.[25]

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

Personal life[edit]

Capitanich and Sandra Mendoza have two daughters together.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Dos denuncias de corrupción que salpicaron a Jorge Capitanich". La Nacion. Nov 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "ARGENTINA, CHACO: ¿QUIEN ES JORGE MILTON CAPITANICH POPOVICH?". Bajando Lineas. Jun 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Leuco, Alfredo (Nov 29, 2013). "El socio de Coqui". Perfil. 
  4. ^ a b c "Quién es quién en el nuevo gabinete". La Nacion. Nov 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Bendición presidencial para Capitanich: triple mal trago para Gildo Insfrán". Misiones para Todos. 
  6. ^ a b Beaudette, Noah (Dec 20, 2013). "If Capitanich Wants to be President, He Needs a (Non) Crazy Ex-wife". The Bubble. 
  7. ^ a b Sanz, Christian; Forte, Carlos (Jan 29, 2014). "Aldo Ducler, el narcolavador socio de Capitanich y los Kirchner". Periodico Tribuna. 
  8. ^ Montenegrina: Argentinac crnogorskog porijekla postao guverner argentinske provincije Chaco!
  9. ^ Chaco: Jorge Capitanich se impuso por menos del 0,8% y se proclamó gobernador
  10. ^ Bargent, James (May 15, 2013). "Drug Trade "Anarchy" in Argentina Border State Sparks Controversy". Insight Crime. 
  11. ^ "Jorge Capitanich defendió el plan Sueños Compartidos de Sergio Schoklender y Hebe de Bonafini". La Nacion. Feb 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Capitanich defendió a Schoklender y Bonafini ante las denuncias de corrupción". Clarin. Feb 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Police Raid Football Clubs Over Corruption Claims". Argentina Independent. Nov 19, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Elliott Casts Wide Net For Argentine ‘Corruption’". FIN Alternatives. Aug 19, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Gov't fires back at ATFA, Germany's Finance Minister over debt battle". Buenos Aires Herald. Sep 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Jorge Capitanich y una comparación desafortunada entre Estados Unidos y una "persona grandota que viola a una hija"". La Nacion. Sep 29, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Argentina summons US diplomat over default comments". Yahoo. Sep 16, 2014. 
  18. ^ Turner, Taos (Jan 15, 2015). "Argentina’s Jews Reel From New Twist in Terror Probe". Wall Stret Journal. 
  19. ^ http://www.clarin.com/politica/Documentos-confirman-Nisman-arresto-Cristina_0_1297070348.html
  20. ^ http://www.clarin.com/politica/nisman-cristina-denuncia_original-amia_0_1295870451.html
  21. ^ http://www.clarin.com/politica/Jorge_Capitanich-rompio-paginas-Clarin-gesto-peligroso_0_1297070292.html
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ "Jorge Capitanich reasumió en Chaco: echó a todos los ministros y suspendió la campaña electoral del peronismo". La Nacion. Feb 27, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Jorge Capitanich confesó ser un corrupto". Avisora. 
  25. ^ "actividades premio adeba". ADEBA. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Domingo Cavallo
Minister of Economy
Acting

2001
Succeeded by
Rodolfo Frigeri
Preceded by
Antonio Cafiero
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
2002
Succeeded by
Alfredo Atanasof
Preceded by
Roy Nikisch
Governor of Chaco
2007–2013
Succeeded by
Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff
Preceded by
Juan Manuel Abal Medina
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers
2013–2015
Succeeded by
Aníbal Fernández