President Mauricio Macri publicly supported Labor Minister Jorge Triaca, who went back to work today following a controversy regarding the firing of his former Employee Sandra Heredia – which included a strong insult via a WhatsApp audio message- and the following revelation that he allegedly used his influence to get her appointed at the Sindicato de Obreros Marítimos Unidos (Maritime Worker’s Union, or SOMU for short), which was placed into trusteeship in late 2016.

In an interview with Radio Mitre, Macri conceded Triaca’s actions constituted a “mistake,” but said he valued the fact that he had publicly apologized. Moreover, he argued his labor at the SOMU “has been flawless,” although he went on to say his administration intends to “raise the bar” when it comes to making appointments in the public sector.

“Clearly, with this new bar, it is not enough to say something like ‘since we needed someone we could trust, we appointed a person we knew.’ We need to be much more precise and be able to prove the person’s qualifications. It is not enough to say they are a friend, an acquaintance or your cleaning lady [in what was a clear reference to the Triaca affair],” he said.

Triaca and Heredia. Photo via Perfil
Triaca and Heredia. Photo via Perfil

Macri made these statements immediately after announcing the government would reduce the amount of high-ranking officials working in the national administration by 25 percent, as well as the impossibility for ministers’ family members be public employees. Although Triaca’s former employee is not a family member, her appointment at the SOMU caused an avalanche of criticism and accusations of nepotism, and it is not unlikely it influenced the announcement.

However, there are three family members of the minister who are working for the government, and since the decision reaches those who are currently employed, they will be removed from their posts. They are:

  • His wife, Cecilia Loccisano, who worked as Under-secretary of Administrative Coordination at the Health Ministry.
  • His sister, Mariana Triaca, will no longer be member of the Banco Nación’s board. Although Mariana Triaca had been working at the institution for years, the appointment had generated accusations of nepotism towards the minister, and drawn inevitable comparisons with the case of Delfina Rossi, who was appointed to the same position when his father, Agustín, was Defense Minister during the Fernández de Kirchner administration.
  • Lorena Triaca, also sister of the minister, will leave her post as director of External Affairs at the Argentine Agency of Investment, an institution under the sphere of influence of the Foreign and Production ministries.

On January 23, the minister’s brother Carlos reached a settlement with Sandra Heredia, thus avoiding going to court.

However, both parties differed on the details of her employment conditions. Triaca’s brother admitted she was fired without reasonable cause, but, in contrast with Heredia’s claims, said she had been hired in 2015 and that the working relation had always been formal. Heredia assured she actually started working for the Triacas in 2012, claiming the relationship between that year and 2015 was informal. Or, in other words, illegal.