Photo via Crónica

Union leader Hugo Moyano doubled down on his criticism to President Mauricio Macri and his administration, as their more-than-public feud continues to intensify, this time with a dire warning that the government doesn’t “have a lot of time left”.

The former head of the CGT umbrella union confirmed that the teamsters union – which catapulted him to the national scene and over which he still wields a great deal of influence as his son Pablo is the one currently leading it – will march against the government on February 22 and criticized his fellow union leaders who are not prone to follow his initiatives: “they put themselves at the service of power,” he said about it.

In an interview with Crónica TV, Moyano argued the government is picking up a fight with him in an attempt to deflect attention from actual pressing matters, such as the dire economic situation the country is going through.

He also denied the accusations from former Barra Brava from football club Independiente – which he presides – Pablo “Bebote” Alvárez, who assured Moyano is involved in unlawful activities in the club. And he criticized the government again.

The Macri administration, at the same time, is more than willing to pick up the glove. The official in charge of getting on the media ring this weekend was Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña.

As a guest in Mirta Legrand’s TV show, Peña peddled the government’s rhetoric regarding the conflict, saying Moyano is one of the people who “have privileges” in the country – i.e believes he is above the law – and doesn’t want to let it go of them.

Let’s take a deeper look at their statements and dissect the content, taking the context of what they said into account.

MOYANO

While speaking to Crónica this weekend, Moyano warned that the government “doesn’t have a lot of time left”.

“People are certain this government is failing and doesn’t know how to reverse this. They intend to give away the country [to foreign interests] on a silver platter. They have indebted the country and, at the same time are trying to divert attention from this by targeting my family,” he said.

In a context where several political actors – such as union leader Luis Barrionuevo and former Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni – have expressed in not-so-subtle terms their desire for this administration to end before its time, this line is more than a jab.

Along those threatening lines, he went on to say that “the government is detached from reality” and “we have to start organizing for when the time comes.” “We need to be ready because we can’t continue going down this path,” he added.

It is not clear what moment he was talking about, nor what would organizing entail.

But he confirmed that his first show of force will take place on February 22, when members of the teamsters union – along with those who support their stance – will march in Buenos Aires City to protest against the government’s policies.

Back in the day, when they were friends. Photo via Nexofin
Back in the day, when they were friends. Photo via Nexofin

However, the march is also causing internal rifts within the unions’ landscape. Although various union leaders have shown support for the march, others are prone keep the line open with the government, especially considering the year’s wage negotiations are right around the corner.

Héctor Daer, member of the CGT’s triumvirate and the most visible face of this camp, said on the weekend the march was circumscribed to “the teamsters union.”

Moyano also had words for this group saying the government has “put fear into some leaders, but will not be that lucky with us.”

“I was not surprised by Daer’s statements. He is wrong by saying he will not support the Moyanos. Because he is actually not supporting the workers. They [the side he represents] are supporters of the government.”

In another moment of the interview, he was asked about the mounting legal accusations against him, regarding alleged mismanagement and money laundering in the teamsters union and the Independiente football club. Namely, the statements made by Bebote Álvarez, who in an interview last week further detailed the illegal activities Moyano and his son Pablo conduct in the two institutions, and the way in which they are intertwined.

“Him saying that we launder money was complete nonsense. Yes, we had to do a lot of laundry because the place [Independiente] was extremely dirty,” said Moyano, who went on to argued the clash is a strategy from the Macri administration to get him to green-light the reform to the labor laws it wants to implement.

“I would rather be put in prison or killed, but I will not do anything that goes against the workers’ interests; hence this whole strategy.”

MARCOS PEÑA

On the other hand this weekend, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, said he doesn’t believe the government is clashing with the unions, and assured “we will grow up as a country when institutions work, because we are all equal before the law.”

Moreover, he distanced the government from the mounting investigations against union leaders, arguing that “even if they make threats and march, the justice system will not stop. That doesn’t happen anymore,” he concluded.

Considering Moyano’s legal problems continue and that wage negotiations and conflict are two words that go hand in hand, it is unlikely the tension will cease any time soon. Expect a lot of news concerning the matter coming your way, as no side is willing to cave.