January 16, 2018
Friday, May 12, 2017

‘Macri and his aides’ fortunes were made at the expense of the state’

By Mariano Parada López
For The Herald

Fernando Cibeira, author of the book Macristocracia, asks what is ‘new’ in the ‘new right’

Full name: Fernando Adrián Cibeira
Born: June 17, 1965
Education: San José de Flores school, TEA journalism college (graduated), Law College (UBA-incomplete)
Hobbies: Reading fiction and history books (Felipe Pigna and Hugo Gambini), running, playing paddle.
Favoured media outlets: Clarín, Página/12, La Nación, El Destape, Le Monde Diplomatique.


From the Página/12 newsroom, in the neighbourhood of Constitución, Fernando Cibeira writes about the Let’s Change administration, probing the government’s priorities, policies and leadership of the country.

In a closed office, the journalist and TV host spoke to the Herald this week about his new book, Macristocracia.

Was it hard to dive into all the parenthood and business partnerships inside the PRO party?

Yes. The book has two halves. The first is more focused on historical issues and the family tree, which was easier to rebuild. The other, covering journalistic topics, is more difficult as there is a kind of denial from public officials related to their private businesses. They say: “We have nothing to do with this.” On the other hand, the fact that many of them are officials nowadays is not seen by them as any obstacle to keeping their state-related businesses.

It is very common for people to say that PRO is a kind of “new” or “modern” right-leaning party. Have you seen this aggiornamento from their grandparents’ ideas?

Yes, there is an aggiornamento. One of the core ideas of the book is that they regard themselves as a “management party”; they do not see themselves as right-leaning. But that is impossible since one of the first measures taken by this administration was to scrap export duties to the farmers as well as to pay off the vulture funds (holdouts) in cash. (These actions) carry an ideological load with it.

Otherwise, they kept on with the Universal Children Allowance and the ProCreAr housing programme. In fact, they mantain a minimum level of social welfare which turns them into a “new right” party, beyond that we can see harsher stances now (with pickets and social protests).

Do you think they truly believe in supporting a floor, of the welfare system?

I do not think it is part of their beliefs, but they are aware this is a different era, in which it is mandatory to provide a welfare floor so that the social situation will not become harder to manage. What would have happened if they had overturned the Universal Children Allowance or cooperative companies? I am convinced Macri and his CEOs do not faithfully believe the state should keep (on providing) social welfare.

Throughout the PRO party, we can see traditional families that come from the aristocracy, like Senate head Federico Pinedo or ministers like Bullrich, meanwhile Macri is the son of an Italian immigrant. Is there any difference in their beliefs because of their origins?

Both the old and new fortunes were made at the expense of the state. However, they reject any state interference once they get their wealth. There are no differences between Macri, BA City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Macri’s best friend Nicolás Caputo or Pinedo regarding their formal education: all of them went to private schools and studied abroad.

Mauricio Macri was raised with the industrial development ideas in vogue 60 years ago from his father, while his grandfather, the father of his mother, Blanco Villegas, gave him a traditional perspective of the idle rich. That world was more attractive to Macri than the one of his father. He shaped his mind in Cardinal Newman school, where his father sent him to be alongside with high society. Then, he turned against Franco: Mauricio felt ashamed of his world and started to admire the Argentine upper-class environment.

Did you finish your book with the same ideas when you started to write it?

At first, the publisher came and proposed me to do “Rich people SA,” but I was interested in doing something deeper. I felt enthusiastic about linking many historical moments with these families’ backgrounds. They have always been close to power. They introduce themselves as “new” but they are the most conservative and retrogade of our society.

Did you find out any surprises?

Many. One, in the 1930s coup, there was one Federico Pinedo who was Independent Socialist Party deputy and one Horacio Rodríguez Larreta who was a prosecutor general. Both were great-grandparents of the current officials. Larreta (the elder) signed a shameful ruling to give (José Félix) Uriburu’s coup legality.

The other comes from when an Austral airline plane crashed on its first flight to Mar del Plata during the so-called “Liberating Revolution,” the 1955-1958 dictatorship. On that plane, Marcos Peña’s grandfather and uncle and Patricia Bullrich’s grandfather and uncle flew as passengers. The four died. The Braun family were the owners of Austral. Bullrich has remembered that as a tragedy since she was already born and was waiting for that plane in Mar del Plata. Besides that, there is a brother of (Macri adviser) José Torello who married a cousin of Esteban Bullrich and both have farms near Junín. They are almost neighbours. On the other hand, not every family (that is part of the PRO party) belongs to the oligarchy. For instance, I was interested in Jorge Triaca, who was a paradigm of the so-called “business-union” leadership. Another case is the Frigerio family, MID theories of development in Argentina. Then, they run Clarín (and brought Héctor Magnetto to the newspaper). Frigerio’s son was with Menem and is part of YPF’s board, and his grandson is lousy, inexpressive. It is like a degraded family tree.

Most of the businesses you describe were related to farming, financing and public works. Have you seen anyone more related to the competitive market?

One case is Mirgor, the company run by Mauricio Macri and Nicolás Caputo. But they did it with their families’ money, who gave them a “toy” so that the children could play and (they) did successfully.

Besides, there is no case in Argentine history of an administration that is more homogeneous. These guys live in just two towns in Buenos Aires, or two private gated communities.

How do you imagine their future once Let’s Change leaves office?

In the case Macri loses in 2019, it looks hard for him to keep going with a traditional, for-the-whole-life political career. Others, like Pinedo, Bullrich or Rodríguez Larreta, will probably run their own races, as they belonged to other parties before Macrism.

It is likely the PRO party remains as an expression of a right-leaning stance.



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