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Mauricio Macri

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His Excellency
Mauricio Macri
Presidente Macri en el Sillon de Rivadavia (cropped).jpg
57th President of Argentina
Assumed office
10 December 2015
Vice President Gabriela Michetti
Preceded by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
5th Chief of Government of Buenos Aires
In office
10 December 2007 – 10 December 2015
Deputy Gabriela Michetti
María Eugenia Vidal
Preceded by Jorge Telerman
Succeeded by Horacio Rodríguez Larreta
30th Chairman of the Boca Juniors
In office
27 February 2008 – 1 June 2008
Preceded by Pedro Pompilio
Succeeded by Jorge Amor Ameal
In office
3 December 1995 – 4 December 2007
Preceded by Antonio Alegre
Succeeded by Pedro Pompilio
Personal details
Born (1959-02-08) 8 February 1959 (age 57)
Tandil, Argentina
Political party Republican Proposal (2009–present)
Other political
affiliations
Commitment to Change (2003–2009)
Cambiemos (2015–present)
Spouse(s) Yvonne Bordeu (1981–1991)
Isabel Menditeguy (1994–2005)
Juliana Awada (2010–present)
Children Agustina
Jimena
Francisco
Antonia
Residence Quinta de Olivos
Alma mater Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature
Website Official website

Mauricio Macri (Spanish pronunciation: [mauˈɾisjo ˈmakɾi]; born 8 February 1959) is the current President of Argentina, in office since 2015. A former civil engineer, Macri won the first presidential runoff ballotage in Argentina's history (the runoff system had been introduced in 1994) and is the first democratically elected non-Radical or Peronist President since 1916.[1] He was previously the Head of Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires from 2007 to 2015 and represented the City of Buenos Aires in the lower house of the Argentine congress from 2005 to 2007.

Born in Tandil in the Buenos Aires Province, Macri is a graduate of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina with a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and also studied in the Columbia Business School in New York City.[2] Son of Francesco Macri, a prominent Italian businessman in the industrial and construction sectors, Macri was raised in an upper class home. He gained recognition when in 1995 he became President of Boca Juniors, one of the two most popular football clubs in the country. In 2005 he created the centre-right electoral front Republican Proposal (Propuesta Republicana), also known as PRO.[3]

He was considered a potential candidate for the 2011 general elections, but declined to run for the presidency of the country and ran instead for reelection as mayor. He got nearly 47% of the vote in the mayoral election, leading to a runoff vote on 31 July 2011 against candidate Daniel Filmus, which he won, getting elected for his second consecutive term.[4] On 22 November 2015, after a tie in the first round of presidential elections on 25 October, he obtained 51.34% of the votes and defeated the Front for Victory candidate Daniel Scioli.[5] He was inaugurated on 10 December 2015 in the National Congress of Argentina.[6]

In 2016, Macri was named one of the World's 100 Most Influential People and the Most Powerful President in Latin America by the American news magazine Time.[7][8]

Early life

Macri was born and raised in the city of Tandil, inner of the Buenos Aires Province.

Mauricio Macri was born in Tandil, in the province of Buenos Aires, son of the Italian-born tycoon Francisco Macri and Alicia Blanco Villegas, a woman of Spanish descent.[citation needed] His father influenced him to be a businessman, as well as his uncle Jorge Blanco Villegas. Franco expected Mauricio to eventually succeed him as leaders of his firms. Macri preferred the company of his uncle, to avoid the constant scrutiny of his father. Macri was educated at Colegio Cardenal Newman[9] and studied at the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), where he received a degree in civil engineering. During this time he became interested in neoliberalism, and joined a think tank led by the former minister Álvaro Alsogaray. As a result, he affiliated to the now defunct Union of the Democratic Centre party.[10] In 1985, he also attended short courses at Columbia Business School, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the local Universidad del CEMA.[11]

His professional experience started in SIDECO Americana S.A., a construction company belonging to his father's holding company, the Socma Group, where he worked for 3 years as Junior Analyst, later becoming a Senior Analyst. In 1984, he worked in the credit department of Citibank Argentina, in Buenos Aires. He joined Socma the same year, and from 1985 onward he served as general manager. In 1992 he became the vice president of Sevel Argentina (then manufacturing Fiat and Peugeot automobiles under licence in Argentina, and part of Socma), climbing to the presidency in 1994.[11]

In 1991, he was kidnapped for 12 days by officers of the Argentine Federal Police. He was kept inside a very small room, with a chemical bathroom and a hole in the roof to receive food. He was freed after his family reportedly paid a multimillion-dollar ransom.[12] He has since said that the ordeal led him to decide to enter politics.[13]

He gained recognition as president of one of the most popular football clubs in Argentina, Boca Juniors. He was elected in 1995 and reelected in 1999 and 2003, to complete one of the most successful periods of the club, winning 7 national tournaments and 11 international competitions.[14][15]

He married businesswoman Juliana Awada in 2010. He wore a fake moustache and impersonated singer Freddie Mercury during the party. He accidentally swallowed the moustache, and Minister of Health Jorge Lemus performed first aid to save his life.[16]

Boca Juniors

Macri taking part in a friendly match of beach soccer, 2011.
Macri playing a friendly match of beach soccer, 2011.

Macri first intended to run for chairman of Boca Juniors in 1991, but his father convinced him to wait and keep working at Sevel. He tried to buy the team Deportivo Español, but could not get support from the team's directory. He supported Boca Juniors by paying the wages of the coach César Luis Menotti and buying players for the team, such as Rubén Perazzo. Franco Macri finally allowed his son to try to run Boca Juniors, but suspected that he would fail in it. He instructed his aide Orlando Salvestrini to work alongside Mauricio, both to help him and to report his activities. Mauricio Macri met with the former chairmen of Boca Juniors Antonio Alegre and Carlos Heller, and tried to convince them to work with him. Heller was confident in his victory and rejected him, as well as Alegre. Later on, he sought the support of other groups within Boca Juniors, eventually winning the internal elections.[17]

His first years were not successful. The performance of the team was poor, the players made frequent complaints over wages and rewards, and he had changed the coach three times. The only initial improvement was a partial reconstruction of the stadium. He arranged that Boca Juniors worked in the stock exchange, to earn enough money to buy new players. His first coach was Carlos Salvador Bilardo, who brought 14 new players to the team, and ended the tournament in 10th position.[18] His second coach, Héctor Veira, made a poor performance as well.[19] The new coach, Carlos Bianchi, helped Juan Román Riquelme to boost his performance, and had Martín Palermo and Guillermo Barros Schelotto as effective forward players. They won the first two tournaments, going on a record 40-match unbeaten run.[20]

Political career

Macri speaking at the Summit of the Pacific Alliance, 2016.

In 2003 Macri made his political debut when he founded the centre-right party Compromiso para el Cambio (Commitment to Change),[21] and later that year he ran for mayor of the City of Buenos Aires for his party. He won the first round of the election with 33.9% but lost the runoff election with 47% of the vote to his opponent Aníbal Ibarra.

In 2005, he joined Ricardo López Murphy of Recrear to create a centre-right electoral front called Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and successfully ran in the City of Buenos Aires for the Chamber of Deputies, where he won with 33.9% of the votes.[22] This and later campaigns were managed by Jaime Durán Barba.[23]

Throughout 2006 he alternated his political activities as deputy with his presidency of the soccer club Boca Juniors. In 2007 Macri was in discussions with right-conservative Jorge Sobisch,[24] governor of Neuquén Province, ahead of the 2007 national elections. However, this agreement was in conflict with the previous alliance with Ricardo López Murphy, who had decided to run for the presidency and had denounced Sobisch for corruption, providing as proof a video in which Sobisch was bribing Jorge Taylor, deputy of the Radical party. Later that year, Sobisch's image was severely damaged when the school teacher Carlos Fuentealba was killed during a union demonstration in Neuquén. Facing this situation, Macri immediately backed out of his agreements with Sobisch and remained neutral during the national elections of 2007.[25]

In February 2007 Macri announced that he would run once again for the mayoral elections of the City of Buenos Aires in 2007, heading the PRO slate with Gabriela Michetti as his running mate. In the first round of the election on 2 June 2007 he won with 45.6% of votes over the government-backed candidate, Daniel Filmus, who received 23.8% of the votes. The incumbent, Jorge Telerman, came in third. The runoff election between Macri and Filmus took place on 24 June 2007, and resulted in Macri's victory with 60.96% of the votes.[26][27]

Macri meeting Pope Francis in the Vatican in September 2013

Macri's victory was largely analyzed as a defeat for President Néstor Kirchner and turned the elected mayor into the leader of the centre-right opposition, which has remained fractured after the Argentine political crisis of late 2001.[28] The perceived blow to Kirchner's political support was reinforced by the provincial elections in Tierra del Fuego, which took place on the same day, in which another candidate backed by the national government lost to ARI's Fabiana Ríos.

Mauricio Macri made an alliance for the 2009 elections with Francisco de Narváez and Felipe Solá. The alliance was successful, as De Narvaez defeated Kirchner in the Buenos Aires province and Gabriela Michetti, Macri's candidate, won the elections in the city of Buenos Aires. Macri was thus considered as a likely candidate to dispute the presidency in the 2011 elections. However, the 2011 electoral season began with Fernández' job approval around 58 percent,[29] and polling indicating that she would likely be reelected in the first round.[30]

In 2011, instead of running for the presidency, he ran for his reelection as mayor. He won the first rounds of the election on 10 July 2011, with 47.08% of votes against Filmus' 27.78% and Fernando "Pino" Solanas, and won the runoff against Filmus again on 31 July, with 64.25% of the votes.[31]

Buenos Aires administration

Public transport

Macri with his third and current wife, Juliana Awada entering at Teatro Colón

Macri's administration did a great deal of work related to public transport, seeking to reduce heavy traffic. One of those works is the Metrobus, a Bus Rapid Transit system built in the main avenues of Buenos Aires. By the end of Macri's time as mayor, the system had 5 lines and 113 stations and was 50.5 km (31.4 mi) in total length.[32]

Other streets have bikeways, to promote the use of bicycles and the city created the EcoBici bicycle sharing scheme. By the end of Macri's tenure, some 155 km (96 mi) of bicycle lanes were constructed and 49 of the planned 200 automated bicycle sharing stations had been built.[33][34]

With regards to rail transport, several level crossings on the city's commuter rail network have been replaced by tunnels to improve road traffic flow and train frequencies.[35] Under Macri's leadership, the city also committed to engage in two large-scale rail infrastructure projects which involve running viaducts through the center of the city in order to extend the Belgrano Sur Line and raise the San Martín Line to eliminate level crossings.[36] Macri also presented the Red de Expresos Regionales project, which seeks to link the city's main railway termini and railway lines through a series of underground tunnels, though construction will begin during the mandate of Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.[37]

Macri visiting the new 200 Series trains on Line A, Buenos Aires Underground

Line A of the Buenos Aires Underground, that still used wooden cars almost a century old, received a renewed fleet of modern cars, among other fleet renewals on the network such as new cars for Line H.[38][39] Among the rolling stock renewals, train purchases for Line B were criticised for being bought second-hand from the Madrid Metro, being technically incompatible with the line and costing more than the new trains for the city's commuter rail network, despite their technical superiority.[40] Under Macri's leadership, many new underground stations were opened, however he was criticised for not having met his electoral promise to construct 10 km of lines per year.[41]

Union conflicts

One of the first administrative decisions taken by his government was to fire 2,400 city employees under contract; their contracts were not renewed, with the government claiming that they were "ñoquis". This action caused conflicts with the city unions followed by strikes of the SUTECBA-CGT and ATE-CTA unions.[42]

Spy scandal

In October 2009, Sergio Burstein, a leader of the Jewish community who had led the opposition against the appointment of Fino Palacios as Chief of Police (because of his connections with the terrorist attack on the AMIA), announced in court that he was being spied on by the Police of the City of Buenos Aires.[43] Shortly thereafter, the Chief Justice concluded that Burstein was, in fact, being spied upon by a group that involved Fino and his successor Osvaldo Palacios Chamorro, a federal police lawyer who worked for the Ministry of Education of Buenos Aires (Ciro James), two judges of the Province of Misiones, among others.[43]

The investigation revealed that the spying included opposition leaders and even leaders from Macri's own party, as well as businessmen, trade unionists, and their families, as the spies had illegally tapped the phone of his brother-in-law, a parapsychologist who had been threatened by Macri's father, industrialist Franco Macri. In December 2009, Fino Palacios, Osvaldo Chamorro and Ciro James were arrested for this incident.[citation needed]

Macri said that the case, headed by judge Norberto Oyarbide, was an attempt by Néstor Kirchner to frame him.[44] Judge Sebastián Casanello cleared Macri of the charges, ruling that there was not enough evidence of a crime to involve Macri in the case.[45][46]

Metropolitan police

Macri examining Metropolitan Police graduates

The main police force which acts in the city is the Argentine Federal Police. The city, being a capital district until 1994 when a new National Constitution was sanctioned, did not elect the mayor who by then was appointed by the president. When in 1996 the new City Constitution was created, a national law was passed, known as the "Cafiero Law", which kept the Federal Police under the control of the Ministry of Justice of the National Government. Since then, this lack of control of any police force by the mayor has been a persistent problem between the city and the federal government.

After several months of negotiations with the National Government, they did not arrive at any agreement, and in March 2008, Macri announced he would create a new Metropolitan Police force under his control. On 28 October 2008, the law was passed by the Legislature of Buenos Aires. Initially it would have approximately 1,000 agents and it should start working by the end of 2009.[47] The situations in which this police force would be allowed to act are yet to be determined by an agreement with the National Government, but in principle it would be allowed to act in evictions and traffic blocking protests.[48]

The first chief of the Metropolitan Police, Jorge Alberto "Fino" Palacios, was forced to resign on 25 August 2009 after an important public resistance,[49][50] due to an ongoing investigation about his involvement in the AMIA bombing of 1994. His successor was his second in command, Osvaldo Chamorro.[51]

Panama Papers revelations

In April 2016, following the leak to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung of 11 million documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, the leaked Panama Papers revealed that Macri was listed as director of a Bahamas-based trading company that he did not disclose during his tenure as Mayor of Buenos Aires.[52][53][54] Shortly after the Panama Papers made the news, Macri appeared in a short TV interview in which he said his father, Franco Macri, had founded the company through a "legal operation". He added that the company had been intended to carry out investment operations in Brazil but the business was never completed.[55]

Journalist Joaquín Morales Solá considered it unlikely that Macri would be trialed for the Panama revelations. Macri appears himself in the directory, Franco Macri had reported it to the AFIP, and it was closed in 2008, just a year after Mauricio Macri became chief of government.[56]

On April 7, 2016, federal prosecutor Federico Delgado began a formal investigation into Macri's involvement with Fleg Trading Ltd., the company registered in Panama for which President Macri was listed as director. Judge Sebastián Casanello was asked to start the file on the inquiry.[57] The initial petition was made by Neuquén representative Darío Martínez. Martínez claims Macri could be guilty of perjury due to omissions made in his sworn statement.[58] Martínez also referenced another offshore company, Kagemusha SA (named after Akira Kurosawa's 1980 film), which had been established in 1981 and to which President Macri also had connections.[59][60]

Presidential elections

Opinion polls during the first round had underestimated the number of voters intending to vote for Macri, while later polls underestimated Daniel Scioli.

Macri ran for president of Argentina in the 2015 presidential elections. As President Cristina Kirchner was unable to run, initial opinion polls revealed a three-way tie among Macri, the Kirchnerite governor Daniel Scioli, and the mayor of Tigre Sergio Massa.[61] Failing to achieve enough support, the Broad Front UNEN coalition disbanded, and Elisa Carrió and the Radical Civic Union created a new coalition with the Republican Proposal, forming Cambiemos. He supported Horacio Rodríguez Larreta against Gabriela Michetti in the primary elections of PRO for the position of mayor of Buenos Aires. Larreta won both the primary and the main elections, and Michetti was selected as candidate for the vice-presidency. Macri also declined an electoral alliance with Massa, and kept María Eugenia Vidal as candidate for governor of the Buenos Aires province.[62]

Macri, Carrió and Ernesto Sanz ran in the primary elections, which Macri won.[63] The primary elections and opinion polls indicated that Scioli might be the victor in the first round of the general election by a wide margin, but Macri and Scioli tied, leading to a ballotage.[64]

On 22 November 2015, Macri beat Front For Victory candidate Daniel Scioli, with 51.34% of the vote. Days after the election, United States President Barack Obama telephoned Macri to congratulate him on the results. According to the White House press release, President Obama "emphasized the longstanding partnership between the United States and Argentina and conveyed his commitment to deepen cooperation on multilateral issues, improve commercial ties, and expand opportunities in the energy sector."[65][66][67]

Presidency

President-elect

Presidential styles of
Mauricio Macri
Standard of the President of Argentina.svg
Reference style Excelentísimo Señor Presidente de la Nación
"His Most Excellent Mister President of the Nation"
Spoken style Presidente de la Nación
"President of the Nation"
Alternative style Señor Presidente
"Mister President"
Macri receiving the presidential sash at Casa Rosada
Macri parades beside First Lady Juliana Awada during his inauguration, 10 December 2015.

He has promised to reduce inflation, improve conditions for business, and cease the international alignment with Venezuela and Iran.[68] Macri has announced an infrastructure development strategy named Plan Belgrano (after Manuel Belgrano), a plan aimed at building infrastructure and encouraging industry development in ten of Argentina's northern provinces, which have historically lagged behind the rest of the country. The plan includes a proposed investment equivalent to 16 billion United States dollars over the course of 10 years, along with an "historical reconstruction fund" of 50 billion pesos to be used in 4 years. Other objectives of the plan include the provision of housing for some 250,000 families, and the construction of 1400 child care centers.[69][70][71]

Macri announced the full composition of his cabinet on November 25, 2015, some two weeks before he was due to take office.[72][73][74] The period of presidential transition proved to be particularly conflictive. Both presidents had a very short meeting, where Cristina refused to provide any help or insight for Macri's future administration, and only accepted to talk about the ceremony.[75] Mauricio Macri took office on 10 December 2015.[76][77][78]

Inauguration

Macri took office on 10 December 2015. He began the ceremony starting from his apartment in the neighborhood of Recoleta at the corner of Avenida del Libertador and Cavia at 11:00pm to the National Congress of Argentina with his wife Juliana Awada and his youngest daughter of 4 years old, through the Casa Rosada and the Plaza de Mayo. At 11:41 he entered the room where the Legislature was, taking an oath after the Vice President Gabriela Michetti. Then he delivered a speech of 27 minutes in which he pledged his "support for an independent judiciary, to fight corruption and drug trafficking, the internal union of Argentina, universal social protection, create a XXI-century style of education and that everyone can have a roof, water and sewer". He also greeted those who were his competitors during the presidential elections.[79]

Later he went to the Casa Rosada, where he received the presidential attributes in the White Hall at the hands of the Temporary President of the Senate, Federico Pinedo, accompanied by Vice President Gabriela Michetti, President of the Chamber of Deputies Emilio Monzó and President of the Supreme Court Ricardo Lorenzetti. Minutes later he went to the historic balcony where thousands of people waited in the Plaza de Mayo, expressing his hope that "Argentines deserve to live better and we are about to start a wonderful period for our country. I promise to be always telling the truth, and showing where our problems are" and calling "all the Argentines to accompany his administration and alert them when [the government] makes mistakes".[80]

After being anointed President, he gave a reception at the San Martín Palace of Argentina Foreign Ministry to all the heads of state present: Michelle Bachelet from Chile, Horacio Cartes from Paraguay, Juan Manuel Santos from Colombia, Rafael Correa from Ecuador, Evo Morales from Bolivia, Dilma Rousseff from Brazil, and representatives of other countries attending his inauguration.[81]

Foreign relations

During his government, Macri wants to strengthen ties with Brazil and the Southern Cone, looking away from the Bolivarian axis and claim for political prisoners in Venezuela. It will also promote the repeal of the agreement with Iran and work for a rapprochement with the United States and Europe.[82] He has also worked to strengthen relations with Israel.[83][84]

Latin America

Macri with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in the Casa Rosada. Argentina and Mexico, along with Brazil are the most developed economies in Latin America, and members of the G20 major economies.[85]

After being elected President, Macri received many congratulations from other Latin American Presidents. Despite the ruling Workers' party having supported Daniel Scioli during the campaign, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff congratulated Macri and invited him to a state visit "as soon as possible", while she was also set to attend Macri's inauguration as president. The pair have favored improving bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as strengthening the Mercosur trade bloc.[86] The Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, contacted Macri by phone and spoke about the importance for both countries of maintaining the spirit of cooperation, integration and development which characterizes their common history and the importance of further work for Latin America.[87] Juan Manuel Santos expressed "Congratulations to Mauricio Macri for his victory in presidential elections in Argentina. Successes in his management. It has our full support".[88] The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, congratulated Macri for his victory and wished him "the best of luck". While commenting on the presidencies of the Kirchners, he stated that "12 years ago Argentina was reborn like a phoenix, after neoliberalism had left it in ashes" whilst thanking the former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.[89] The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, stated that "Mexico will work with" Macri's government to strengthen "bilateral relations and the wellbeing of Latin America".[90] Peruvian President Ollanta Humala contacted Macri in order to congratulate him on his election victory and point out that the Peruvian Government has "strong will" to strengthen ties with his country, reported the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.[91] Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez greeted Macri by telephone and asked him to convey his congratulations to the people of Argentina for the civic maturity demonstrated during the election.[92]

Macri with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the Planalto Palace, Brasilia. Brazil is Argentina's biggest trade partner.[93]

Immediately after the elections, Macri announced that he would ask for the invocation of Mercosur's "democratic clause" (limiting membership to democracies) with regard to Venezuela, since the government of Nicolás Maduro was not respecting democratic doctrines. He called for the holding of the 2015 Venezuelan elections without electoral fraud or tricks to avoid the result, and the release of political prisoners. In the end Maduro acknowledged the defeat of his party in the elections.[94] Nevertheless, Macri made diplomatic requests for the political prisoners in the first meeting of Mercosur that he attended.[95] Venezuela's opposition hailed Macri's presidential win in Argentina as a blow for leftists in Latin America and a good omen for their own duel with Chavism in the next month's parliamentary vote. "That was a big disappointment for Venezuela's ruling socialist 'Chavismo' movement, which had a close political alliance with Fernández."[96] Diosdado Cabello called Macri a "fascist", and asked him to stay away from Venezuelan internal affairs, as Macri had proposed to remove Venezuela from the Mercosur because of the treatment to Leopoldo López and other political prisoners.[97] The victory of Macri is considered part of the decline of the Pink Tide in the region.[98]

On November 5, Macri made his first trip as President-elect to Brazil, where he met with President Dilma Roussef in Brasilia. Macri said he chose Brazil for his first trip as President-elect because it is the main commercial partner of Argentina and because of the strong ties that both countries have.[99] That same day, Mauricio Macri traveled to Santiago de Chile, where he was received by President Michelle Bachelet in the Palacio de la Moneda.[100]

United States

President Macri with the President of the United States, Barack Obama, during his official visit to Argentina, March 2016

The United States Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated the country for its "successful elections", adding that he was "looking forward to working closely" with Macri and his government.[101] Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet wished Macri well.[90] Members of the United States House of Representatives later asked Barack Obama in a letter to prioritise US-Argentine relations during 2016, stating that "The United States and Argentina should be natural partners. Both have highly educated populations, diversified economies and vast natural resources" and calling such a relationship a "win-win" for both countries. The letter also stressed the importance of reversing high levels of anti-Americanism in the country and resolving the holdout problem with the vulture funds, among other key issues.[102] Obama later congratulated Macri personally, while an official White House statement confirmed that the President intends to strengthen ties.[103] The relations between Argentina and the United States began to twitch due to the problem that came into the Argentine Government and the vulture fund, where former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner stated after the latter denial of certiorari that her country had an obligation to pay its creditors, but not to become the victims of extortion by speculators; even if Argentina can't use the U.S. financial system to do so, she said, teams of experts are working on ways to avoid such a default and keep Argentina's promises.[104] The expiration of Rights Upon Future Offers (RUFO) in December 2014 will preclude other bondholders from suing for better terms should the Argentine Government and the vulture funds settle, making such a settlement all the more likely after that date, should the dispute continue.

On February 18, 2016, a White House official announced that President Obama would undertake a state visit to Argentina on March 23–24, 2016 to improve the Argentina–United States relations after the two countries' relations under predecessors Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Néstor Kirchner saw tension in trade and investment.[105][106] President Obama and the First Family arrived in Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini International Airport from Havana, Cuba at around 1 a.m. (UTC−3) on Wednesday, March 23, where they were greeted by Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra.[107][108] Obama and Macri discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in promoting "universal values and interests," such as in the areas of security, energy, health and human rights, where the two presidents have agreed for U.S. federal agencies to assist Argentina's counter-terrorism efforts, to contribute to peacekeeping missions, combat illegal drug trade and organized crime, respond to diseases and outbreaks like the Zika virus, and develop resources and renewable energy strategies.[109] Obama also praised Macri for his economic reforms that helped create "sustainable and inclusive economic growth" and "reconnected Argentina with the world economy."[110] Thus, Obama declared a "fresh era" of relations that would help Argentina's credibility in the Latin American region and the world, and announced trade and economic initiatives to reset the countries relations after years of tension.[111][112]

On 24 March 2016, Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra announced that Argentina signed agreements with the United States to join again on the Visa Waiver Program. Argentina initially joined on the program in 1996, but was removed in 2002.[113][114][115]

Europe

Macri with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel in Berlin, during his European tour, July 2016.

Many European leaders publicly expressed support for the new government of Macri. German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Macri and requested that he make a state visit to Germany. She added that the two countries have "always been deeply tied", particularly in the area of science, which she deemed "one of the pillars" of the two countries' relations. Merkel also remarked that she would be "thankful" if the countries could strengthen cooperation "in all areas".[116] Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has a close relationship with Macri, congratulated him and invited him to carry out a state visit "as soon as possible", stating that he is confident that the new government will "lead this new stage with success" while offering "the necessary support to consolidate the historical ties of friendship, fraternity and cooperation". The relationship between Spain and Argentina had become increasingly tense under the presidency of Cristina Kirchner, particularly after the Renationalization of YPF in 2012.[117] In a telegram to Macri, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his hopes that the two countries will continue to increase the "bilateral cooperation within diverse areas and the coordination of efforts to resolve current occurrences within the international agenda", adding that "the fundamental interests of the people of Russia and Argentina contribute to guarantee the stability and security of Latin America and the world", while reminding Macri that the countries had recently celebrated 130 years of diplomatic relations. Putin also made reference to the ongoing nuclear power and hydrocarbon extraction projects between the countries.[118] In February 2016, Macri received the President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires. Both leaders spoke of investments in each country; Plevneliev also met with entrepreneurs and visited the National Congress.[119]

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called Macri on the night of his victory and stated that he would meet soon with the new president to "open a new page of collaboration between the two countries". He also highlighted the historical and cultural ties between the two countries, stating that "it is the country with the largest presence of Italian citizens in the world", numbering some 900,000. The Cambiemos victory also provoked much reaction in the domestic Italian press.[120] On 15 February 2016, Renzi met with Macri for a two-day state visit to Buenos Aires;[121] Renzi was the first European leader to meet Macri after the 2015 presidential election and the first Italian Prime Minister since Romano Prodi in 1998 to visit Argentina.[122]

French President François Hollande sent a telegram to Macri and expressed "We will have the opportunity at that time to deepen our dialogue and our bilateral relationship that is one of the densest known to the Latin American continent". Hollande also confirmed a state visit to Argentina in February 2016.[123] Upon congratulating President Macri on his victory in the 2015 election, President Hollande announced that he would visit Argentina in February 2016. During his state visit to Buenos Aires on 24–25 February 2016, Macri and Hollande signed 20 bilateral agreements.[124]

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Macri after his election to congratulate him and offer his support for his presidency. A Downing Street spokesperson stated that "both leaders expect to meet in the near future", emphasising trade relations and investments, while also prioritising the establishment of a free trade agreement between MERCOSUR and the European Union "as soon as possible".[125] The chancellor Susana Malcorra clarified that Argentina would maintain the Argentine claim in the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute, but would also try to expand the Argentina–United Kingdom relations into other areas of interest.[126] Macri met Cameron at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to which Argentina officially returned after 12 years. After the meeting, Macri said he had a "very nice meeting" with Cameron and explained in a brief meeting with journalists that their goal is to initiate "a relationship in which all issues on the table are placed under one umbrella". Chancellor Malcorra reported that the dispute over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands was one of the most important axes of the meeting, but not the only one. "Focusing our relationship only in the Islands is to stay with the glass half full," said the minister.[127]

In July 2016, President Macri started a European tour that took him to France, Belgium and Germany, where he sought to project his international leadership as a political and commercial partner of the European Union.Macri held in Paris a meeting with French President Francois Hollande, and Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in this case in the context of a two-day official visit in which the President was accompanied by businessmen. In addition to meeting with the two leaders brunt of the European Union, Macri was received in Brussels by the European Council President Donald Tusk, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, and by King Philip and Queen Mathilde at the Royal Palace of Brussels.[128]

Asia

On March 27, 2016, a Casa Rosada official announced that President Macri will meet with Chinese President, Xi Jinping on 1 April in the framework of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.. China and Argentina established diplomatic relations in 1972 but revived especially during the mandates of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner, during which the relation reached the level of "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership". However, since the assumption of Macri, the relationship was observed for the promises of the now head of state during the election campaign to "review " the proceedings between the Casa Rosada and Beijing between 2003 and 2015. Both countries signed agreements in 2015 for the construction of two new nuclear power plants in Argentina, with a total investment of 15,000 million dollars in an operation in which China pledged 85 percent of funding. China is the second main destination of Argentine exports after Brazil.[129][130]

During the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit he also met with Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye with the aim to resume relations and try to add investors in Argentina. Japan and South Korea have a strong interest in investing in the area of mining, energy, infrastructure and raise levels of trade with Argentina. It is known that there are a strong interest of Japanese and Korean companies to invest in Argentine Northwest in lithium deposits.[131]

In September 2016, during the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, President Macri met with Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and they made ​​a commitment to expand the relations between Argentina and India. "I think so far the relationship between our countries has been a little superficial. It's a good opportunity to deepen" Macri said. Macri met Modi in one of the last added to its agenda of activities at the G20 summit bilateral meetings. Macri expressed interest in "increase and diversify" Argentine exports to India and Indian companies encourage "come to invest in our country." Modi also expressed satisfaction that the Confederation of Indian Industry will participate in the Business Forum in the city of Buenos Aires. In addition, the Argentine president exchanged a greeting with Indonesian President, Joko Widodo. In both meetings Macri was accompanied by Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, Finance Minister and Finance, Alfonso Prat-Gay, and Secretary of Strategic Affairs, Fulvio Pompeo. [132][133][134]

Middle East

On December 21, government lawyers withdrew an appeal in Federal Court made by Macri's predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, over the constitutionality of a memorandum she had signed with the Iranian government, to investigate the 1994 AMIA bombing. The memorandum was criticized by both Israel and Argentina's Jewish community, as Iran was long suspected of being involved in the attack. The memorandum had been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court during Kirchner's administration, and along with the withdrawal of the appeal, the memorandum was voided by Macri's administration. The move was praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an improvement of bilateral relations.[135]

On July 2016 President Macri met with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Presidential Residence of Olivos. Both led the signing of memorandums of understanding signed Chancellor, Susana Malcorra, and his Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani. also they attended by the Chief of Staff, Marcos Peña, and the Minister of Finance and Public Finance, Alfonso Prat-Gay. In 2015, Argentina exported to Qatar goods by 11.5 million dollars and imported worth just over 153 million dollars, what, 141 million deficit in bilateral balance totaled 164 million, down 35 percent in relation to 2014, when the exchange was 471.5 million dollars, according to statistics from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).[136]

Economic policy

One of the first changes to economic policy from the Macri administration was to, just seven days after Macri had taken office, remove the currency controls that had been in place for four consecutive years.[137][138] The move signified a 30% devaluation of the peso, and was met with both criticism and praise.[139][140]

In December 2015, Macri's administration removed taxes on exports of grain, beef and fish, while keeping a 30% export tax on soy, down 5% from a previous rate of 35%.[141][142] The administration also did away with previously imposed quotas on grain exports.[143]

On January 19, 2016, Macri attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with Sergio Massa and part of his cabinet, looking for investments. He had meetings with various business representatives, politicians and journalists. Some of them were US Vice President Joe Biden, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, the founder of Virgin Group Richard Branson, CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, the Queen of the Netherlands, and the President and CEO Coca Cola, Muhtar Kent, among others.[144] It was the first time that Argentina participated in the Forum since 2003. The last president to attend was Eduardo Duhalde.[145]

One of Macri's promises during the campaign was the elimination of the income tax for workers. He said, "During my government workers will not pay tax on profits".[146] The Minister of the Economy and Public Finances, Alfonso Prat-Gay said that the draft amendments to the income tax would be sent to Congress for treatment.[147]

In March 2016, after holding a bilateral meeting at Casa Rosada, the U.S. president, Barack Obama defined Macri as a "key ally" in the region and called for a bilateral working group to eliminate trade barriers. After this visit, the idea of a free trade is in the crosshairs of the US and Argentina.[148]

Political views

Indigenous people

Macri meeting Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon in Buenos Aires.

On December 16 Macri met with members of the Qom community and other 30 ethnic groups of indigenous peoples. The meeting was held at the Museum of the Bicentennial of the Government House and the delegation was headed by the leader of Qom community, Felix Diaz. Macri said the recognition of indigenous communities and policies indigenous peoples are state policies during his government as President.[149]

LGBT rights

Macri announced his personal support for same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and outlined plans to pursue the issue in early 2009. "The world is going in this direction. We have to live with and accept this reality. I hope they are happy," said Macri when he decided to not appeal the ruling that enabled two men to marry civilly. It was during his tenure as Mayor of Buenos Aires that the first gay marriage in Latin America was performed in the city.[150][151] Because of this support, it began a tense relationship between Macri, and former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis because, unlike Macri, he was strongly opposed to the enactment of the Act for same sex marriage in Argentina.[152] Current Chief of Government of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said "Macri installed the discussion of equal marriage" in the country and described him as a person "with strong positions for sexual diversity".[153]

Abortion

Macri has expressed pro-life views on abortion. In an interview published by La Nación in 2014, he stated: "I am in favor of life; I don't think we need to open that debate".[154] Nevertheless, he clarified that he would abide by any law on the matter sanctioned by Congress, regardless of his personal views.[155]

Orders

Ancestry

See also

References

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Bibliography

  • (several authors) (November 2015). Todo Macri: vida, poder y secretos del nuevo presidente. Argentina: Perfil. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Jorge Telerman
Chief of Government of Buenos Aires
2007–2015
Succeeded by
Horacio Rodríguez Larreta
Preceded by
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President of Argentina
2015–present
Incumbent