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News from the New World: Latin America's Diverging Paths

Updated: Jun 24

Part II of a two-part series by the Americas Focus Group on the continent's politics ahead of the 2024 elections



Introduction

For Latin America, the inauguration of a new millennium brought an unusual cohesion in its political cycles. The rise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in 1999 set the pace for a novel development in its politics, with a newborn left soon taking power in Argentina and Brazil in 2003. In both countries, Nestor Kirchner and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva represented a different kind of left-wing politics, one not tied to Cold War paradigms. In Ecuador, the victory of socialist economist Rafael Correa in 2007 succeeded the comparable triumph of cocalero activist Evo Morales in Bolivia. Radical reforms, and a new continental consciousness, were on the table.

Although Venezuela eventually stagnated into dictatorship, the rest of these governments eventually gave way to a right-wing reaction. Following Nestor Kirchner’s 2007 decision to step down, his wife Cristina took on his mantle, only to lose in 2015 to businessman Mauricio Macri. In 2018, former military officer Jair Bolsonaro defeated Lula’s designated candidate to win the Brazilian presidency. Correa, while succeeded by a member of his own party, saw his project gradually eroded beyond recognizability under Lenin Moreno, who himself was then succeeded by yet another conservative businessman, Guillermo Lasso. Bolivia, where Morales’ party had largely consolidated itself without recourse to outright authoritarianism, saw the brief rule of Jeanine Áñez after a controversial reelection attempt. 

It is no coincidence that observers have christened these seemingly coordinated, periodic shifts in public opinion after the certainty and constancy of the tides. Journalists and political scientists alike were seduced by the scheme of a left-wing “Pink Tide” soon followed by a “Conservative Wave.” 

With Luis Arce’s victory over the Bolivian right in 2020, Gabriel Boric and Pedro Castillo’s elections in 2021, Gustavo Petro’s election to Colombia’s top job the year after, and Lula’s tumultuous return in 2023, it seemed as if the gravity of public opinion had once again stepped in to balance the scales. Mexico, led by veteran leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) since 2018, had always been out of step with the clockwork rhythms of Latin American politics. Latin America’s socialists were hopeful, and its conservatives fearful, of an imminent return to the politics of the first Pink Tide and the collective sense of imminent, radical change. This proved to be illusory. 

Today, Luis Arce is mired in harsh conflict with his former mentor Evo Morales, threatening the unity of the coalition which brought them both to power. Castillo is long-gone, having been thrown out after a botched self-coup in 2022, while AMLO is busy anointing his successor and securing his legacy. Boric, the bearded wunderkind of Chile’s Estallido social, is virtually impotent before a hostile legislature and disappointing referendum results. In Bogota, Petro’s agenda seems to have run aground, as well, while Lula tempers his ambitions to skilfully lead Brazil’s new consensus. 

Two new phenomena reign in Ecuador and Argentina, both important centers of both the “Pink Tide” and the “Conservative Wave.” Ecuador’s young president Daniel Noboa governs seemingly beyond the traditional divisions of left and right, while Argentina’s radical Javier Milei chainsawed his way through both the Peronist and liberal political class to shake up Buenos Aires. Although the left still holds court in Latin America, it seems that entropy has finally gotten the better of its tidelike politics, leaving observers grasping for a more suitable analogy.

The following essays, produced by the Americas Focus Group, analyze the complicated challenges, and often thwarted ambitions, facing Latin America’s political class. Morgane Bouguessa analyzes the challenges facing Ecuador’s Noboa: what is the 36 year-old businessman doing to address rampant gang violence? Most importantly, how did Ecuador even reach this state? Antonio Carapella focuses on Lula’s return to the Palácio do Planalto, and whether the ancient trade unionist can still manage to lead his massive country. Mirco Tognon sets his sights on Mexico: with Claudia Sheinbaum’s likely victory in the upcoming presidential elections, is AMLO’s legacy safe in her hands? What roadblocks stand in her way? Lavinia Catalano analyzes Milei’s great expectations, and even greater difficulties, for implementing his radical plans in Buenos Aires. Does the upstart, anarcho-capitalist economist have enough support to confront the trade unions and the opposition?

We hope you enjoy the following articles.


Ecuador from Correa to Noboa
By Morgane Bouguessa

Ecuador, once called a “haven of peace” in South America, is now facing a worrying increase in violence. This escalation is deeply rooted in the political and economic trajectory of the country  under the presidencies of Rafael Correa and Lenín Moreno.

Rafael Correa’s presidency (2007–2017) constituted an important period of economic and institutional reforms, characterized by an increase in spending on social programs, particularly in health and education. During those years, social spending doubled, poverty and inequality declined substantially, and the annual per capita GDP growth increased to 1.5%, compared to 0.6% on average over the prior 26 years.

Nevertheless, in the midst of these reforms, Correa’s decision not to renew the 10-year lease of the Manta Air Base to the United States, the country’s second port after Guayaquil, put an end to anti-drug cooperation with the U.S. This ruling led to significant repercussions in the fight against drug trafficking in the Pacific region. In addition, Correa's administration concluded a controversial pact with criminal gangs, offering them a semblance of legitimacy in exchange for refraining from violence. However, this pact only encouraged gangs like the Latin Kings, to hide their activities under the disguise of “urban youth groups” and “community organizations,” therefore gaining recognition. 

Lenín Moreno's election in 2017 marked a shift in Ecuador's political landscape, diverging from Correa’s socialist policies. The austerity measures adopted led the Ecuadorian economy to a recession. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country, already weakened, experienced its highest levels of poverty and inequality in a decade. Moreover, the restructuring of the administration undertaken by Moreno, including the dissolution of the ministries responsible for justice, security coordination and counter-narcotics into a single, under-resourced Ministry of the Interior, exacerbated the government’s difficulties in fighting organized crime. 

Ecuador’s criminal organization landscape has become increasingly complex, with both local and international affiliations exacerbating violence and instability. Many Ecuadorian gangs have close ties with Mexican gangs. Notably, the prominent Los Chroneros gang has historical links with the Sinaloa cartel. Additionally, the involvement of other transnational groups, including the Venezuelan Tren de Aragua, or other Colombians groups, exacerbates Ecuador’s security challenges.

The rise in violence in Ecuador has reached alarming proportions in recent years. Between 2020 and 2023, the country’s homicide rate rose from 7.7 to 44.5 homicides per 100,000 habitants, nearly double that of Colombia. Despite an unwritten rule in Latin America for gangs to avoid frontal attacks on the government, Ecuador seems to be an exception. On August 9, 2023, a few days before the first round of Ecuador’s presidential election, prominent candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated in the northern region of the capital, marking the beginning of a worrying trend of political assassinations. 

The current President, Daniel Noboa, addressed the nation in January 2024 to emphasize the gravity of the situation, defining it as an “internal armed conflict” against 22 criminal gangs. This declaration was followed by the imposition of a state of emergency after a wave of gang attacks, prison riots, bombings, homicides and kidnappings.

Ecuador's economic difficulties, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, pose significant challenges in coping with escalating violence. The growing budget deficit ($5.7 billion by 2023) is limiting the government's ability to provide essential public services, and hampering efforts to combat unemployment and poverty. At the same time, the explosion in revenues from criminal organizations, estimated at $60 billion, is exacerbating economic disparities, leading to increased gang recruitment, particularly among vulnerable young people. 

Efforts to improve Ecuador's economic situation and, in so doing, enhance security, are also encountering political resistance. The Ministry of Economy & Finance has estimated that the sustained mobilization and equipment of military forces for the internal armed conflict would cost the Ecuadorian state $1.02 billion every year, something Ecuador can hardly afford.  Efforts to increase revenues have been met with resistance by the National Assembly. For example, Noboa’s proposal to increase Ecuador’s value-added tax from 12 to 15%, a measure that could generate over $1.3 billion in additional revenues, was rejected by the Parliament. 

Ecuador has recognized its need to rely on international assistance in order to resolve its economic and security concerns. Initiatives such as the Innovation and Development in Ecuador Act introduced by the US Senate in March 2023 offer opportunities for economic improvement and crime prevention by leveraging international cooperation and encouraging investment in key sectors. If approved, the Act would extend benefits provided for by the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act to Ecuador (CBER Act), eliminating US tariffs for 99% of Ecuadorian products. Additionally, given the high levels of both female and native employment in the production of the goods most affected by CBER Act trade regulations, the extension of said benefits is also likely to have a strong positive effect on traditionally marginalized communities in Ecuador, with the added benefit of reducing the poverty that ensures the presence of support for, or at least indifference towards, organized crime in the country. 

Nonetheless, Ecuador is encountering obstacles in its efforts to conclude international agreements. In February, the country reached an agreement with the United States: Quito would supply Washington with scrap military equipment of Russian origin, which would then be shipped to Ukraine in exchange for advanced military equipment. However, the agreement backfired, when Russia retaliated by banning banana imports from Ecuador. As Russia is Ecuador's third-largest trading partner, President Noboa had to withdraw from the pact with the United States.

Facing the interdependent challenges of escalating violence and economic instability requires Ecuador to address the issues jointly, combining security and economic support, which are imperative to restoring peace, stability and prosperity to the country.


Lula’s New Tricks
By Antonio Carapella

When the dust cleared and the ballots were counted, many international observers could breathe a sigh of relief on October 30, 2022. The most widely anticipated and debated elections of the year, the final showdown between veteran trade unionist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, had ended with a clear victory for the former. Lula, the two-time former president adored and reviled by tens of millions of Brazilians, was set to go from prison to the presidency. He was, by far, the international favorite.

His upcoming third term was to be unprecedented; no other politician in Brazilian modern history had managed to win one. His previous two terms, served from 2003 to 2011, had ended with a well-performing economy and 20 million Brazilians lifted from poverty. Upon leaving office, his 90% approval rating was so high, it seemed as if the entire country hired North Korean pollsters. 

But much had changed since 2011, and many doubted the nine-fingered, charismatic president’s ability to govern Brazil like he had previously. Polarization between the country’s radicalized right and robust left was sky-high, with occasions of substantial electoral violence dotting the campaign season. The Bolsonaristas were nothing like the Tucanos of the past.  

The commodities boom of the early-2000s, which fueled the growth Lula previously relied on, had long been replaced by a sustained underperformance in the country’s economy. Congress was no longer as docile as it had once been, now in the hands of political opponents, presenting potential obstacles for his political ambitions. Likewise, the international situation of renewed confrontation between the United States and its rivals was vastly different from the comparative calm of his first two terms. 

The gravity of these difficulties is matched by the ambitions Lula set for the administration: restoring an inclusive economic growth, safeguarding democracy, extending public investment, and prioritizing environmental concerns are ambitions difficult to realize in such an environment. Now back in the Palacio do Planalto, would Lula manage to govern the country? The doubts were not unreasonable. After all, he had turned 77 a mere three days before his 2022 election.

From the outset, things boded poorly. After a carefully choreographed inauguration on January 1, 2023, former president Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed the Brazilian Congress a week later, on January 8. The Bolsonaristas, explicitly seeking to provoke a military coup, had been unhappy for some time, with roadblocks dotting the nation’s highways and blocking urgent transportation.

Lula responded decisively, quickly declaring a state of emergency in Brasilia’s Federal District which was approved by the Congress in short order. An investigation into the possible complicity, and alleged coup plotting, of Bolsonaro and high-level military officials was eventually begun, while necessary changes in key personnel were dutifully carried out. Bolsonaro has since been repeatedly convicted of various crimes, including abuse of power and misusing public media. This has largely disqualified him from serious politics, and the former president has spent much of his time in a near-exile.

However, Lula has always preferred to co-opt his enemies rather than fight them. His vice presidential candidate in 2022, establishment stalwart Geraldo Alckmin, was his fiercest opponent in 2006. He did not change his strategy this time. His sights were set on Bolsonaro and his immediate accomplices. His movement, and the Brazilian right, were seen as obstacles to be worked with. Divorcing it from Bolsonaro’s person was the immediate strategic goal. So while the governor of the Federal District was suspended over the riots, his Bolsonarista deputy saw no obstacles to accession.

This strategy of co-optation and selective opposition was extended even to Congress and the administration’s broader strategy. In Congress, Lula’s broad front of ten political parties has extended its reach even further in the centrão, the often murky, un-ideological, and profoundly corrupt center of Brasilia’s politics. Not aligned with either Lula or Bolsonaro, it is nonetheless not particularly sympathetic to the former’s progressivism. The decision to give two cabinet positions to former Bolsonaristas, while Lula’s Workers’ Party only has six in a total of 31, helped curry much favor. Furthermore, the approval of Bolsonarista leadership in both the Senate and lower house, proved beneficial to his image as a moderate committed to pragmatism. Even the slogan of the administration, “Unity and Reconstruction,” was carefully chosen to reflect this. This sufficiently reinforced his credentials in the centrão

This moderation seems to have paid off for his policy agenda. Although entering office with ambitious spending goals, the high interest rates (with a benchmark rate over 13%) imposed by the conservative President of the Central Bank of Brazil, Roberto Campos Neto, closely limited the government’s ability to realize its ambitions. Despite much tension between the Bank and Lula, Campos Neto has been allowed to continue his term. 

Lula has sought other ways to realize his ambitions, using executive powers to relaunch the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, a series of physical and social infrastructure investments designed to spur economic growth while achieving key social objectives. Public housing, namely through the Minha Casa, Minha Vida program, was also managed through executive power. But Lula’s moderation paid off in Congress, where he and Minister of Finance Fernando Haddad managed to negotiate a difficult, but revolutionary reform of the country’s labyrinthine tax code. This was accompanied by an increase in the minimum wage and a host of other new measures, although much of Lula’s most ambitious programs remain in limbo. 

Macroeconomically, the results seem broadly positive, with inflation falling precipitously to 4.6% by the end of 2023, unemployment at its lowest since 2014, and GDP growing 3% in 2023. The reform of the tax code, meanwhile, has widely been seen as a potential driver of future economic growth. 

But the need to compromise with the opposition has most hampered his environmental agenda. Although robust action was successfully taken on combating deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, the conservative agricultural bloc which underpinned Bolsonaro’s coalition remained powerful, and shortcomings were evident. Brazilian agribusiness has largely remained untouchable, given the thin political margins in the country, and thus many victories in other fields have come at the cost of inability to act on the sector’s contribution to Brazilian emissions and the related land disputes between ranchers and the country’s indigenous people. This has disappointed some members of his base.

As for oil exploration, Lula has been directly in favor of an increasing role for Petrobras, Brazil’s state oil company, and the country’s accession into OPEC+. This is not seen as a concession to a powerful Congressional right, but rather as a fundamental matter of national policy. However, the president has been insistent in underlining his commitment to fighting climate change. Squaring this circle remains, thus, rather difficult.

The radically different international situation also proved a challenge for the administration, which has found navigating the ongoing Sino-American and Russo-Ukrainian rivalries a difficult balancing act. Lula has never made a secret of his ambitions to put Brazil at the center of the world stage with a coherent, autonomous foreign policy not fully aligned with one side in the rising new Cold War. As such, he has been vocal on his desire to see a diplomatic solution to the Russo-Ukrainian War, often in the face of serious foreign criticism. 

Furthermore, he has been unusually passionate on the ongoing conflict in Gaza, comparing it to a genocide in October of 2023, and even the Holocuast by February of the following year. This has put him in hot water with the Jewish State, as well as angered a substantial amount of Christian Zionists at home. 

In Latin America, his close relations with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez backfired hugely after the inauguration of his anarcho-capitalist successor, Javier Milei, who views Lula as little more than a corrupt communist. Plans for close cooperation faded after Milei’s controversial comments, seriously threatening bilateral relations and leading to a substantial diplomatic dispute. 

But foreign policy has never been a priority in most countries’ elections, let alone one as large as Brazil. For the Brazilian public, Lula’s competent administration and emphasis on moderation seems to have largely paid off, with contradictory polling data generally indicating a substantial amount of approval, although with razor-thin margins. This May, some polls showed approval of his government at 43% to 41% disapproval.

This is nothing in comparison to the unassailable approval ratings he accumulated by the end of his second term, but it will probably matter little. After the polarization of Bolsonaro, it is difficult to imagine the country ever returning to that level of consensus. However, the president seems to have dealt fairly well with the obstacles he faced after January 8, 2023. There is still ample room for failure, particularly following the country’s recent, devastating flooding, but with Bolsonaro out of the political picture and the radical right tamed again, it seems the worst has been avoided. 


Mexico’s Leading Lady
By Mirco Tognon

On June 2 2024, Mexican citizens are heading to the polls to vote for the largest election in the nation’s history. Roughly 20,000 roles will be replaced, among them: the president, the entirety of the country’s two Congressional chambers, nine state governors, and multiple local legislatures. 

This presidential race prominently features two female candidates leading the polls. Claudia Sheinbaum, the former Mayor of Mexico City, is the frontrunner with approximately 58 percent of preferences for her left-wing coalition “Let’s Keep Making History” (Sigamos Haciendo Historia), which includes the governing party, Morena. The main opposition candidate, who is forecasted to receive around 35 percent of the votes, is Xóchitl Gálvez with the coalition “Strength and Heart for Mexico” (Fuerza y Corazón por México) followed by Jorge Álvarez Máynez, the candidate of the MC (Movimiento Ciudadano), with only approximately less than 10 percent of the preferences. The latter stepped in at the beginning of the year as a substitute candidate for Samuel García, who withdrew following a controversy over his temporary leave from his position as the Governor of Nuevo León, to which he returned.

Sheinbaum has a background in physics and relies on the support of Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) - the current, particularly charismatic, president - whose approval ratings are above 60 percent, thanks to his frequent recourse to social welfare. The latter cannot be reelected, as the constitution dictates a single six-year term (the so-called sexenio), as the president’s only possible period in power. However, his political work will persist under the supervision of his protege with the introduction of a universal scholarship for students until secondary school and the maintenance of his vision of “republican austerity.” From a security standpoint, she proposes to strengthen the National Guard and reform the judicial branch, with the renewal of its members through indirect elections rather than the improbable direct and secret elections advocated by the president. Furthermore, on one hand, she defended the completion of the construction of the new oil refinery, necessary to foster national production, while on the other, her program aims to reduce the overall emissions of greenhouse gasses.

Gálvez - a former senator- is instead more focused on public safety than social justice. In light of that, she is proposing the reallocation of armed forces from construction and other civilian tasks to concentrate on the fight against organized crime, given the current average of 100 deaths per day. In addition, in accordance with the neoliberal principles of her coalition, the businesswoman has promised to increase the efficiency of Pemex, the profoundly indebted state oil company, and create an agency, the National Agency for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Productivity, to provide support and attract international investments, also in the green transition. However, during a debate, she underlined that she would retain the popular social programs of this government, notwithstanding their burden on public finances.

However, a topic on which all the candidates agree is the necessity of structural changes in the water supply by improving infrastructure, as up to forty percent is lost due to leaks, and increasing the percentage of reused water (especially in irrigation, where the profitable cultivation of avocados is exacerbating critical problems). In fact, as revealed by Mexico’s National Meteorological Service, seventy-five percent of the country was in drought last autumn after the passage of the North American Monsoon, whose rainfall once filled reservoirs. As a consequence, in recent years, the capital has experienced water shortages just before the rainy season. Even though the cause of the drier summers cannot be attributed to climate change alone, their appearance is consistent with what could be expected in a warming planet, as affirmed by a scientist with Mexico’s National Autonomous University.

Moreover, an ongoing increase in violence has given birth to some concerns, as this election cycle risks being more brutal than its antecedents. As a result, some states are complementing federal security measures with their resources. However, there is no serious distress about the presidential candidates, as political violence is more concentrated in rural areas, where about 73.4 percent of the attacks are present at the municipal level.

Lastly, given the already favorable polls for Sheinbaum, more importance is given to the seats that Morena will conquer. AMLO hopes that, after the elections, there would be the majority required to pass a set of reforms whose objectives are to increase pensions to match the ending salary, abolish many regulatory bodies that limit the presidential power, and directly elect the Supreme Court. The latter became a target last year after striking down some extremely controversial reforms that would have reduced the monitoring powers and funds of the Instituto Nacional Electoral - the institution that organizes ballots, counts votes, issues voting ID cards, and monitors the respect of the funding regulations - and that led thousands of people to protest in the streets of the capital. However, political analysts do not expect the popularity of the new president to compare with that of her predecessor, so only some reforms might be approved with the backing of her coalition.


The Milei Effect: What Awaits Argentina? 
By Lavinia Catalano

On 19 November 2023, Javier Milei was elected as the new president of Argentina. Milei, a far-right economist, won the primaries in August after a quick rise to notoriety. Many things have been said on his figure, with both supporters and detractors agreeing on his “craziness”. For those who confide in him, he is the only one able to deliver drastic change. 

Ultra-liberal economist and TV showman, Milei is the leader of La Libertad Avanza, an anarcho-capitalist party planning to revolutionize the country. He has become known for his controversial behavior, which includes holding a chainsaw during political rallies to express his “anti-establishment” mission. His program involves replacing the national currency, the peso, with the U.S. dollar, and shutting down the Central Bank and half of the ministries, including education and health. He is against feminism and abortion, he believes that sexual education is a Marxist plot, and he supports the free circulation of guns and free trade of vital organs.  

Milei’s rise to power occurred in a context of deep economic crisis, with the country crushed by a hyperinflation, now reaching levels over 140%. Two out of five Argentines live below the poverty line, having trouble to satisfy basic needs and facing an uncertain future. Entire segments of the society, once used to a decent lifestyle with some comforts, are the new poor. Social tensions are fuelled by this downturn in living standards for the middle class. Javier Milei was able to channel the discontent, promising a drastic change – however, no one really knows what this change will look like. 

Despite his eccentric promises, Milei’s action was slowed down by his unwillingness to compromise and the lack of support within the Parliament. According to some estimates, his popularity decreased from the 56% which brought him to the presidency, to the current 40%-45%, a lower but still quite solid result. 

Upon taking office, he put forward a “Necessity and Urgency Decree” – Decreto de necesidad y urgencia, abbreviated as DNU – a special kind of order with force of law that can be issued by the Argentine president. The decree has effect almost immediately, and it is revised by the National Congress only afterwards. Milei has been trying to implement labor policies through DNUs, despite facing the heavy opposition of labor unions. The latter proclaimed a general strike in January and kept opposing the measures, asking for the protection of some forms of social welfare, for example by preserving funds for soup kitchens. During the massive strike of January 24, thousands of people protested against the dismantling of the state promoted by the president, who has been working on a “mega-law” (known as ley omnibus) that affects all sectors of the economy.  The riot united citizens from very different backgrounds and professions under the slogan “La patria no se vende”, which summarizes the belief that Milei is willing to put the country up for sale to the advantage of big corporations. Moreover, protests rose as a reaction to the proposal of a bill against abortion rights, with a great mobilization organized by feminist unions on March 8. 

According to the International Monetary Fund, the condition of the Argentine economy is worsening, with a projected percentage change in real GDP of 2.8% by the end of the year. Consumption and output are falling, with large capital losses and an alarming decline in investment. The country is overwhelmed by hyperinflation, and the working class fears the rising cost of transport. In the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, the price of a bus ticket became five times larger in a few months. Prices are likely to grow even more in peripheral regions, due to the suppression of state subsidies. In the atmosphere of rising tensions with regional governors, Milei requested the resignation of two Peronist high officials, the head of the national administration for social security, Osvaldo Giordano, and the secretary for the mining sector, Flavia Royón.  

Milei’s determination to carry on with radical reforms resulted in another general strike on May 9. The response to the appeal from trade unions was particularly strong in the sectors of transport and public administration, with train and metro stations shutting down and most flights being canceled. The government minimized the impact of the strike, with sources pointing out that various shops continued their normal activity. The president himself shared a photo with a shirt stating “Yo no paro” – I don’t strike – meant to defy trade unions. It is worth noting that unions had not acted in such a compact way in a long time, neither against Kirchner nor Cambiemos, Milei’s ideologically diverse predecessors. It is necessary to look back at the 2001 crisis or Carlos Menem’s second term to observe a comparable alliance.

From the moment he started to serve his term, Milei had to deal with protests and massive strikes, aimed at safeguarding citizens’ rights and influencing the measures of the new fiscal package. Moreover, on May 28 the news of Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse's resignation has been confirmed, citing "diverging criteria and expectations" regarding government action. Whether it is a voluntary decision or a sacking, as local media suggests, Posse's departure adds up to the list of officers that have been replaced in less than six months. Posse, the second loss in the Cabinet after the exit of Infrastructure Minister Guillermo Ferraro in January, was part of Milei's close circle, with the President describing him as a personal friend. Media talk of growing tensions in the last two months between the outgoing Cabinet chief and Karina Milei, the President's sister, often called "el jefe" (the chief/boss). He will now be substituted by the Interior Minister Guillermo Francos, with the Cabinet absorbing the functions of the Interior Ministry through an Interior secretary. 

However, the president seems set to pursue his electoral agenda, reassured by the conviction that a large portion of the country supports him. Whether this will hold true or not is yet to be seen, and trust towards Argentina appears less solid than ever.

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