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Mauricio Macri

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His Excellency
Mauricio Macri
Presidente Macri en el Sillon de Rivadavia (cropped).jpg
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 56)
Tandil, Argentina
Political party Commitment to Change (2003–2009)
Republican Proposal (2009–present)
Other political
affiliations
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 ballotage in Argentina's history 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 and also studied in the Columbia Business School in New York.[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 became President of Boca Juniors, one of the two most popular football clubs in the country. In 2005 he created the right-wing 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]

Early life

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 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.[7] In 1985, he also attended short courses at Columbia Business School, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the local Universidad del CEMA.[8]

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.[8]

In 1991, he was kidnapped for 12 days by officers of the Argentine Federal Police, and then freed after his family reportedly paid a multimillion-dollar ransom.[9] He has since said that the ordeal led him to decide to enter politics.[10]

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.[11][12]

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 the first aid to save his life.[13]

Boca Juniors

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

Mauricio Macri first intended to run for chairmen of Boca Juniors in 1991, but his father convinced him to wait and keep working at Sevel. Mauricio 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.[14]

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. With new players such as Martín Palermo, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Juan Román Riquelme, and the coach Carlos Bianchi, Boca Juniors won several tournaments.

Political career

In 2003 Macri made his political debut when he founded the centre-right party Compromiso para el Cambio (Commitment to Change),[15] 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.

Mauricio and his wife, Juliana Awada, at Teatro Colón in 2011.
Mauricio and his wife, Juliana Awada, at Teatro Colón in 2011.

In 2005, he joined Ricardo López Murphy of Recrear to create a right-wing 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.[16] This and later campaigns were managed by Jaime Durán Barba.[17]

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,[18] 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 where 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.[19]

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.[20][21]

Macri with his wife Juliana Awada and his daughter Antonia, meeting Pope Francis.

Macri's victory was largely analyzed as a defeat for President Néstor Kirchner and turned the elected mayor into the leader of the right-wing opposition, which has remained fractured after the Argentine political crisis of late 2001.[22] 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, where 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,[23] and polling indicating that she would likely be reelected in the first round.[24]

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 with 27.78% and Fernando "Pino" Solanas as main rivals, and won the runoff against Filmus again on 31 July now with 64.25% of the votes.[25]

Buenos Aires administration

Macri and fellow cabinet members using the EcoBici bicycle sharing system.

Public transport

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

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, 113 stations and 50.5 km (31.4 mi) in total length.[26]

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.[27][28]

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.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31]

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.[32][33] Among the rolling stock renewals, purchases for Line B were criticised for being bought second-hand trains 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.[34] 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.[35]

Union conflicts

One of the first administrative decisions taken by his government was to fire 2,400 city employees under contract, whose contracts were not renewed, claiming that they were "ñoquis". This action caused conflicts with the city unions which were followed up by strikes of the SUTECBA-CGT and ATE-CTA unions. In response to the strike, Macri administratively intervened the medical security organization of the city workers which depends on the unions.[36]

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 "Cafiero Law", which kept the Federal Police control for 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 on 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 effectives and it should start working by the end of 2009.[37] 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.[38]

The first chief of the Metropolitan Police, Jorge Alberto "Fino" Palacios was forced to resign on 25 August 2009 after an important public resistance,[39][40] due to an ongoing investigation about his involvement in the AMIA bombing of 1994, his successor was his second in command, Osvaldo Chamorro.[41]

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.[42] 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.[42]

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 between the Head of Government, 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.[43] Judge Sebastián Casanello cleared Macri of the charges, ruling that there was not enough evidence of a crime to involve Macri in the case.[44][45]

Presidential elections

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.[46] 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 new mayor of Buenos Aires. Larreta won both the primary and the main elections, and Michetti was selected as candidate for the vicepresidency. Macri also declined an electoral alliance with Massa, and kept María Eugenia Vidal as candidate for governor of the Buenos Aires province.[47]

Macri, Carrió and Ernesto Sanz ran in the primary elections, which Macri won.[48] The primary elections and opinion polls indicated that Scioli might be the victor in the first round of the general election, but Macri and Scioli tied, leading to a ballotage.[49]

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."[50][51][52]

Mauricio Macri took office on 10 December 2015.[53][54][55] He is already working on the composition of his future government. 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.[56]

Political views

Macri at the celebrations for the 202 anniversary of the May Revolution.
Macri at the celebrations for the 202 anniversary of the May Revolution.

Macri has expressed pro-life views regarding the abortion debate. In an interview published by La Nación in 2014, Macri stated: "I am in favor of life; I don't think we need to open that debate".[57] Nevertheless, he clarified that he would abide by any law on the matter sanctioned by Congress, regardless of his personal views.[58]

Macri has promised that as president he will distance himself from the populist government of Venezuela and attempt a realignment of Argentina's foreign policy with the aim of improving relations with the Pacific Alliance, which encompasses Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile. When asked what he would like to change about Argentina's current foreign policy, he replied "Everything!".[59]

Regarding Argentina's trade partner Brazil, Macri has said that he will make it a priority to create a "strategic alliance" with Brazil in order to initiate discussions of unification with the Pacific Alliance.[59] When asked about Argentina's possible relations with the United States, Macri stated that he is interested in strengthening ties with Washington and coordinate efforts in fighting the War on Drugs in Argentina.[59]

Macri had expressed a will to end currency controls,[60] which have been in place in Argentina since 2011.[61]

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"

He has promised to reduce inflation, improve conditions for business, and cease the international alignment with Venezuela and Iran.[62] 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 in these areas. The plan includes a proposed investment of 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.[63][64][65]

Macri announced the full composition of his cabinet on November 25, 2015, some two weeks before he was due to take office.[66][67]

Inauguration

Macri at the celebrations for the 202 anniversary of the May Revolution.
Macri in his inauguration as President, on 10 December 2015.

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, 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". Also greeted his competitors during the presidential elections.[68]

Later he went to the Casa Rosada, where he received the presidential attributes in the White Hall of 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 came the historic balcony where thousands of people waited in the Plaza de Mayo, expressing his hope that "the Argentines can live better, starting a wonderful time for our country, always telling the truth, being honest, showing the problems " and calling " the Argentines to accompany management and alerting when he mistake".[69]

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.[70]

Foreign relations

President Macri with the US Vice President, Joe Biden.

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 as the first trip as President-elect because it is the main commercial partner of Argentina and because the strong ties that both countries have.[71] That same day Mauricio Macri traveled to Santiago de Chile where he was received by President Michelle Bachelet in the Palacio de la Moneda.[72]

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.[73]

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.[74] Nevertheless Macri made diplomatic requests for the political prisoners in the first meeting of Mercosur that he attended.[75]

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.[76]

Macri met with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron. The meeting was in the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to which Argentina officially returned this 2016 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 the goal of management is to initiate "a relationship in which all issues on the table are placed under one umbrella". Chancellor Susana Malcorra reported that the dispute over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands is 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. [77]

Economic policy

One of the first changes to economic policy from the Macri administration, just seven days after Macri had taken office, was to remove the currency controls that had been in place for four consecutive years.[78][79] The move signified a 30% devaluation of the peso, and was met with both criticism and praise.[80][81][82]

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%.[83][84] The administration also did away with previously imposed quotas on grain exports.[85]

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