Labor Minister Jorge Triaca (Photo via El País)

Following the scandal in which he was embroiled after being heard insulting his former employee Sandra Heredia in a voice message, Labor Minister Jorge Triaca went to the beach town of Chapadmalal on vacation today.

Before leaving, Triaca met with President Mauricio Macri and Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña to answer questions regarding the scandal, and according to this report by La Nación, it seems Macri is not thinking of asking Triaca for his resignation.

While people close to Triaca told Clarín that the minister had set the date of his departure in December, the timing is decidedly convenient considering the backlash he has been facing: he had criminal charges pressed against him for allegedly having used his influence to get Heredia appointed at the Sindicato de Obreros Marítimos Unidos (Maritime Worker’s Union, or SOMU for short), which was placed into trusteeship in late 2016. Today, the leader of the Kirchnerite Unidad Ciudadana caucus in the Lower House, Agustín Rossi, announced his intention of summoning Triaca to Congress and offer an explanaiton of his actions.

Rossi didn’t specify what kind of explanations he would expect from Triaca but, going by Rossi’s Twitter feed, chances are he and his colleagues will also grill him on the recent accusations of nepotism leveled against him, as well as Heredia’s claim about being paid under the table between 2012 and 2015, with the terms of her employment only being formalized shortly before the presidential elections.

“Now we understand why the government defends a labor reform with a massive pardon to those companies that have workers on the informal side of the economy.”

“They claim to fight ‘union mafias’ by placing the SOMU into a trusteeship that is anything but transparent, ridden with irregularities, with laughable appointments, and all done with the workers’ money.”

The short WhatsApp audio message that brought the firing to the forefront of the conversation was published three days ago by by online news site OPI Santa Cruz as part of a broader report concerning Heredia’s working conditions. In it, Triaca insulted Heredia, who for five years worked in a quinta [a kind of estate that people own outside of the city, kind of like a weekend house] that the minister owns in the district of Boulogne, in the Buenos Aires Province.

The minister can be heard telling Sandra Heredia not to come in “because I’ll tell you to fuck off, you are an idiot.” Charming, right?

Heredia offered her explanation on what led Triaca to send her the message: “It all began on a Saturday, when I didn’t get to open the door for him on time and he got angry. I want to clarify that it’s not like I didn’t go [to work], I was only 10 or 15 minutes late because my bus was late and I didn’t get there a few minutes before him, as I always did,” she said.

Triaca and Heredia. Photo via Perfil
Triaca and Heredia. (Photo via Perfil)

 

Heredia then said that when she asked for a raise, the minister instead got her a job at the Union of Maritime Workers. The union was placed into trusteeship in late 2016 after its head, Omar Suárez, was removed and preemptively arrested, accused of leading an unlawful association which blackmailed business leaders of the maritime trade sector, as well as embezzling money from the union’s coffers.

Facing backlash, Triaca took to Twitter and apologized for the audio.

“I apologize for the outburst that is making the rounds. It was in the context of a personal dialogue, it’s not in line with my way of acting nor does it reflect the way I am, and I regret that it’s being used to other’s advantage,” the tweet reads.

Later, in an interview with Radio Mitre, Triaca further explained what led him to send the message: “On the weekends I go to my quinta and meet with people from work. I go with my car and then get my wheelchair, which is in there. Since I couldn’t find Sandra, and I had warned her the day before that she had to be there, [the insult] was a result of the stress about having to meet people without my chair.” Triaca went on to say that he personally apologized to her and Heredia kept working for four more months, and was actually fired after his family noticed there were objects missing from the quinta. Heredia has rejected these allegations.