The public feud between President Mauricio Macri and union leader Hugo Moyano intensified today after Clarín reported that during the Cabinet meeting held this morning in Casa Rosada, Macri said that Moyano’s public accusations, as well as the announcement of a march against the government’s policies scheduled to take place on February 22, are a result of the fact that the government is affecting his potential shady deals.
“Those who throw wrenches into the gears do it because they have privileges. And they are trying to weaken us because we are taking on that world of privileges,” he said.
The statement comes following several days of crossed accusations between the President and the union leader. The media feud began last week, when Moyano appeared on television to talk about the increasing accusations against him regarding alleged mismanagement and money laundering activities in the teamsters union and Independiente Football Club, two institutions over which he has a great deal of influence.
Speaking to journalist Samuel “Chiche” Gelblung at Crónica TV, Moyano denied having committed any crimes and argued that the recent accusations are a part of a government strategy to quash anyone who opposes its policies.
Moyano also upped the ante and, when asked if he was afraid of going to prison, he said that if that ends up happening, he wants to be put in a cell “next to [President Mauricio] Macri’s father.” (We can only speculate he was making reference to alleged shady deals that may have been conducted by Macri’s father, Franco, in the past. But who knows.)
The President was quick to pick up the glove and said there’s “no reason for Moyano to be nervous. He needs to be calm and answer the questions the courts might have, rather than picking up fights with a person (his father) who is 86 (he’s actually 87) and is retired,” he said.
Moyano didn’t even take a full day to hit back, issuing a press release through the teamsters union’s website, Infocamioneros, yesterday, sayin he finds it “incredible” that the President “is upset about me talking about an 87-year-old who is retired,” as the reform to the pensions system the Macri administration implemented “has gravely affected millions of pensioners who are also retired after having worked with dignity their entire lives, and don’t have the possibility of enjoying a retirement as comfortable as your father’s, sheltered by the wealth he accumulated through his companies and, in some cases, dealing with the state.”
“Your lack of interest in the lives of pensioners was clear when you could not even tell [TV show hostess] Mirta Legrand what the minimum pension is,” he added, in reference to a cringe-inducing moment in March last year, when Macri was asked on live television what the minimum pension in Argentina was and he couldn’t give a right answer.
This feud doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
For a while now, the justice system in Argentina seems to be leading an implicit crusade against high-profile union leaders, who, as formal representatives of blue-collar workers in the political arena, wield a great deal of influence in the public conversation.
Amongst all those head honchos stands Hugo Moyano, arguably the most powerful union leader in Argentina in the last 30 years, despite being formally retired.
In this context, Hugo Moyano and his son Pablo – who is now the current leader of the teamsters union and vice president of Independiente – were accused of conducting unlawful activities in the union such as money laundering, as well as being involved in shady business conducted by the barrabravas – an organized group of hooligans who conduct illegal businesses related to a football club, such as scalping, for example – of Independiente.
We will see what steps the courts take next. An eventual arrest of Pablo and/or Hugo Moyano would send shock waves through the political landscape.
Both have made it clear they won’t go down without a fight.