Gerónimo “Momo” Vengas, a Peronist and union leader, died last night of pancreatic cancer in Necochea, a coastal city in the Buenos Aires Province, at age 75. He was the head of the so called “Faith party,” which is part of the Cambiemos coalition led by President Mauricio Macri. He was one of the very few Peronistas that found a place close to the new administration.
During the years leading up to his passing, Venegas lead the union of rural and dock workers. He went to the union’s offices on Friday, June 16, to say goodbye to its workers before traveling to Necochea, where he spent his last days. Ramón Ayala will succeed him as head of the union.
Before Macri, Venegas’s career was always tied to Peronist political leaders. However, he had a long-standing feud with late President Néstor Kirchner, which deepened during the crisis the then-Cristina Kirchner administration had with the agriculture in 2008.
In 2011, he was taken into custody under the context of the so-called “medications mob” case — infamous for being the cause of the “triple crime of General Rodríguez” — after his union’s health insurance service was accused of trafficking adulterated medication. He was indicted but never tried.
Two years later Venegas tried his luck in an election for the first time, but failed to get a seat in Congress in the year’s midterms. In 2015 he joined the Cambiemos coalition, being one of the few union leaders who supported Macri.
The President sent his condolences on Twitter a few minutes after news of his passing went public.
Lamento profundamente la partida del Momo Venegas, un defensor de los derechos de los trabajadores rurales. Todo mi cariño a su familia.
— Mauricio Macri (@mauriciomacri) June 27, 2017
“I deeply regret Momo Venegas’s departure, a defender of rural workers’ rights. All my love to his family,” reads the message.
According to Clarín, Venegas had at one point planned to be a part of Cambiemos’ national deputies ticket in the Buenos Aires Province in the upcoming elections. The coalition’s leadership and Macri were analyzing that possibility before his disease advanced.