Luis Barrionuevo, pictured in April 2018. (Noticias Argentinas / Juan Vargas)

Luis Barrionuevo, the interim head of the Partido Justicialista, has ruled out any kind of political talks with Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and promised presidential candidates within 90 days.

“On my behalf, there’s no chance whatsoever that I’ll meet with Cristina Kirchner. If those around her want to return to Peronism, they have their party, but they are welcome. But not me. If anything she will have to meet with the [Peronist] candidates that emerge, but there’s no reason for her to meet with me, nor for me to meet with her,” said Barrionuevo today in conversation with Radio La Red.

“Our task is to normalize things, because the PJ wasn’t a political party, it was a safe house, wherever you look…The first task is to normalize things, so that the new Peronism that we are dreaming of can develop.”

Barrionuevo was named PJ trustee last month by a judge, sparking protests from the previous authorities and a contested reign. The judicial decision has been appealed and is under review by a higher electoral court.

The union boss did not give a straight answer on whether he expected the PJ to have competitive primaries in next year’s presidential elections, but did say that in the next 90 days names for candidates to replace President Mauricio Macri would be clear.

Barrionuevo, head of the hospitality workers’ union and perhaps best known for having been involved in the burning of ballot boxes in the province of Catamarca in 2003, was named trustee of the PJ by Federal Judge María Romilda Servini, replacing José Luis Gioja, who has been close to Krichernite figures while trying to maintain good relations with the rest of the Peronist spectrum.

Servini, who doubles as an electoral judge, agreed with petitioners calling for the party to be placed into trusteeship on the grounds that the party had not won the 2015 and 2017 elections and that “well-known party leaders supported candidacies or political fronts that the PJ was not a part of or they directly participated as candidates of those groups that competed in the most recent elections against the party founded by General Perón.” Servini was making a thinly-veiled reference to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Unidad Ciudadana ticket, which were separate from the PJ and was supported by a faction of PJ leaders.

During the same interview Barrionuevo was also critical of the Macri administration, saying that “historically the CGT has given new governments a grace period to see how the economy goes, some have failed earlier, I think that the government was talking about a period of six months, and I said he needed two years. Now two years have gone by and the layoffs have accelerated, and real salaries have fallen. I see neither good governance nor a positive economic outlook; this is an economic model that prefers financial speculation rather than private investment.”

While noting that the debt taken on by the government is going into infrastructure, which he said “has to do with production,” Barrionuevo also expressed concerns about inflation and utility prices.