Axel Kicillof with mayors from the province of Buenos Aires

Neither Alberto nor Axel nor Horacio. In the coming days, the weight of the peak of the pandemic will not fall on the protagonists of the most highly rated press conferences in recent times, but on the shoulders of Buenos Aires mayors. Stressed by sensing the collapse of the health system around the corner, they no longer ask for more beds or respirators (although also) but reinforcement in the security of hospitals and health centers and even the perimeter fence a hundred meters from the income to prevent outbreaks of desperation from the neighbors at the doors of buildings that put health personnel at risk.

One of the barons with more years of experience summarizes it forcefully: “In 2001 they went to the supermarkets. Now the issue of bad or good food is resolved. But the real problem when we can’t keep up will be the hospitals. There is no other choice but to strengthen security and fence them. ”

The mayor of José C. Paz, Mario Ishii (NA Photo)
The mayor of José C. Paz, Mario Ishii (NA Photo)

Although the broadcast of the video of Mario Ishii negotiating with the ambulance workers of his municipality he ended up fueling the controversy for his unfortunate phrase about the sale of “falopa” that he later translated as “remedies” (sic) and that in any case will settle Justice, the scene shows in a visceral way the difference between desk and trench politicians.

That day, July 4, Ishii had 12 people waiting at their homes for a doctor to arrive on suspicion of Covid-19. Municipal employees saw a good opportunity to negotiate more hours of rest and refused to take the units out on the street. Ishii came down from his office, which since the beginning of the pandemic is the one that would correspond to the Secretary of Health because due to some mishaps the area intervened, and went hand in hand to discuss with them in street language.

“If you want to have time to take care of your family, go to your house to take care of them and release my position. I pay you the basic, no problem, but I need the ambulances do not stop for a minute, “shouted the mayor of Jose C. Paz, who historically won the district with overwhelming figures.

It is difficult to abstract from the term “falopa”, but if we succeed for a second it is easy to understand why people vote for it.

The office of intendant of the conurbano has bad press. But for politics, going through one of those hot municipalities is a master’s or doctorate in public service. They are men and women who are exposed to stones being thrown on the roof of their houses. This is literal. And it’s not a small thing.

Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof
Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof

Now, except for Eduardo Duhalde, who came with that expertise, there was no governor who understood and related to them intelligently. And so far Kicillof does not seem to be the exception. On the contrary, Axel has an inability to understand the language of district politics.

Summoning them to a talk by Zoom and speaking for an hour and a half in a row in his best tone as a university professor is the perfect example of this clash of two worlds. Imagine, for a moment, Ishii rewiring the messages of the neighbors due to the lack of light or the need for an ambulance and having to hide that he pays attention to the Excel that so eroticize Kicillof. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♂️

Axel’s long monologues are a topic when it comes to relating. The policy in terms of group and armed containment is, above all, the ability to listen. Characteristic that the governor still has pending matter despite – or, as a consequence of? – his brilliant passage through the university cloisters.

Those gaps were filled until recently by Teresa García, her government minister (Cristina’s wife who officiates to build bridges between these two irreconcilable worlds) and for a couple of months by the strong man of La Cámpora, Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque , Minister of Community Development (modernized name of the traditional Ministry of Social Action).

Just as Alberto armed the national cabinet in the image and likeness of the political alliance that brought him to power and divided quotas-shares, Axel chose to surround himself seamlessly with his most trusted group. A homogeneous cabinet in which, for more than obvious reasons, his rising and despised Minister of Security, Sergio Berni, stands out.

This week, the man who, together with the deputy head of the Buenos Aires government, Diego Santilli, are competing inch by inch for the record number of television hours in a pandemic, suffered friendly fire as a result of press operations of all kinds.

Buenos Aires Minister of Security Sergio Berni
Buenos Aires Minister of Security Sergio Berni

The truth is a difficult character to understand. It is not known if he faces the national minister and therefore the President himself because he wants to differentiate himself, because he wants to leave before the province explodes, or because he is simply a libero who is playing at continuing to rise in the polls to bet on a political project own. The truth is that it is still understandable and violent that the inmates between the Nation and the Province address the media on the critical issue of security. And there the blame does not fall on Berni. The most hurtful versions for Berni about the meeting he had with mayors came out of an office in the Casa Rosada. Also endorsed by a mayor of the third electoral section who sees the minister as a possible electoral competitor in the medium or short term. Three national media transcribed that WhatsApp without changing a comma.

That’s where the political fight for 2021 and 2023 sneaks in.. Many of the current mayors have no chance of reelection for now. And he, for now, is not hypothetical. There are already plans to make a judicial presentation so that the ban on more than two re-elections, which was unanimously voted in 2016, has a more benign judicial reading for those who are unable to reelect today. The provincial Electoral Chamber would be willing to understand that the first period was exactly the one that started after the enactment of the law.

That is, take 2019 as the first period and thus allow that from the macrista Gustavo Posse to the Peronist Ishii they can re-elect in 2023.

If this does not happen, that is, if the prohibition persists, next year the armed forces of the ruling party and the opposition will be a massacre. No mayor will want to wait for the power vacuum that means not having reelection until the last moment. And everyone will want to go play their luck in making lists in 2021.

But let’s go back to Berni. There is one fact that is central. Buenos Aires Peronism has a strong young branch in La Cámpora, but in historical terms it is basically traditional conservative. The minister with his overwhelming personality, his hyperactivity televised minute by minute, and his speech with reminiscences of bullrrichistas in many moments, would sneak perfectly into that deep traditional and conservative province.

In La Plata they say that their place is not in danger. And, although it is clear that some of Berni’s behaviors are difficult to rationally explain, they appeal to a dogma by Néstor Kirchner to guarantee his continuity in the cabinet: “I kill my assholes, not the outsiders …”.


Orchids on Tuesdays. Perhaps as a tribute to the Argentine film that gave the first leading role to Mirtha Legrand, but without the presence of the diva or any other woman, Alberto Fernández finally established a weekly political table that works at lunch or dinner every Tuesday at the Olivos residence. Sergio Massa, Máximo Kirchner, Wado de Pedro and Santiago Cafiero sit down.