Argentine President Alberto Fernández Monday picked new replacements, so that cabinet ministers who will seek a seat in Congress later this year may focus on their campaigns.
Juan Zabaleta will replace Daniel Arroyo at Social Development while Jorge Taiana will take over from Agustín Rossi, Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero said.
The announcement was in line with Fernández's decision while in Peru attending Pedro Castillo's Presidential inauguration that every official who wanted to run for elective office should leave their current post.
However, Taiana's appointment came as a surprise. The former foreign minister between 2005 and 2010 and current Senator had not been mentioned as a possible choice in previous days.
In addition to that, Taiana's past as a terrorist activist who spent seven years in jail (1975-1982) for the bombing of the Ibérico café in Buenos Aires killing two people has sparked once again controversy.
On the other hand, Zabaleta, mayor of the Greater Buenos Aires municipality of Hurlingham, had always been on the radar since the time it became obvious that President Fernández would need new ministers.
Cafiero said both Rossi and Arroyo were excellent fellow cabinet members, excellent coworkers at a time when management exhausted many and made the will of those of us accompanying the President a priority when facing a very difficult time for our country. He also pointed out the new officials will be sworn in Tuesday, at 6 pm.
Taiana had left his position of Foreign Minister reportedly at odds with then President (and current Vice President) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. But they had rejoined forces in 2017 when Taiana was listed behind CFK in her successful run for the Senate. When she was elected Vice President in 2019, Taiana took over her Upper House seat.
In recent developments, Taiana had also been involved in the “vaccinegate” scandal, whereby ruling party politicians, friends and relatives were given priority over risk group patients in a scheme that prompted the exit of then Health Minister Ginés González García and the promotion to that office of Carla Vizzotti.
Taiana explained he had been prioritized for vaccination at the recommendation of Casa Rosada because he was to be a part of the presidential entourage to travel to Mexico later on, which resulted in President's Fernández decision to bar him from the trip.
The former chancellor had promoted several public documents that demanded the nationalization of the Paraná River waterway after the expiration of the concession of the companies that deal with dredging and the collection of tolls from ships. Contrary to what Taiana argued, the Government decided that the tolls will be charged by the State only momentarily.
Rossi first learned he should leave his post on TV and there was speculation that the presidential decision targeted him in a diplomatic way, since he will be taking part in the Santa Fe provincial primaries against candidates directly supported by the President and the Vice President.
Also leaving his ministerial job Monday was Finance Secretary Mariano Sardi, a close aide to Economy Minister Martín Guzmán. Sardi cited health reason for his decision and has been replaced by
Ignacio Brigo, who up until last week headed the Ministry's Unit for Support to the Sustainability of Provincial Public Debt. Brigo has a degree in Economics from the National University of La Plata (UNLP).