Cablegate: Argentina: There's Life After the Casa Rosada For


DE RUEHBU #1026/01 2580006
R 150006Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2029


Classified By: CDA Tom Kelly for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Eight weeks after leaving Argentine President
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's (CFK) administration, former
Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa told Polcouns that he parted on
good terms with CFK and "not so good terms" with CFK's
husband and power behind the throne, former president Nestor
Kirchner (NK). Massa said that CFK deferred to her husband
on all matters, and that in practice she only took orders,
showing no inclination to overrule her husband's policy
decisions or countermand his orders to government ministers
and their staffs. He said he expected NK to run for
president in 2011. Massa conveyed his own intention to run
for governor in 2011 and indicated he was already building a
team to help him run the province. End summary.

Back to Running Tigre

2. (C) Argentine former Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa looked
tanned and well-rested when he met with Polcouns September 4,
a little over a month after returning to Tigre, the
medium-sized city in suburban Buenos Aires where he was
elected mayor in 2007 but took a leave of absence to work one
year for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK).
Massa served as Cabinet Chief from July 24, 2008, through
July 8, 2009, and returned to his mayor's office in Tigre two
weeks later. Although the media had reported that Massa took
his family skiing at the southern resort of Bariloche, Massa
grinned when Polcouns asked him about the slopes and
confessed that he had actually taken his family to a beach
resort in northeastern Brazil. He was clearly pleased that
he had pulled a fast one on the media.

Greatly Relieved

3. (C) Massa stressed that he did not miss his highly visible
Casa Rosada position one bit. The polls, he said, indicated
he had left the Kirchner administration with his reputation
and popularity intact. Tensions between Massa and former
President Nestor Kirchner were rumored to be high, and Massa
confirmed that to us in private. He claimed he parted on
good terms with CFK and "not so good terms" with CFK's
husband and power behind the throne, former president Nestor
Kirchner (NK). Massa said that CFK deferred to her husband
on all matters, and that in practice she had become nothing
more than a subaltern who took orders and had no ability or
inclination to overrule her husband's policy decisions or
countermand his orders to government ministers and their
staffs. He also said that his replacement as Cabinet Chief,
Anibal Fernandez, 52, seemed to be making more enemies than
allies, and that Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo, 45,
who a year earlier shared the limelight with Massa as one of
CFK's most visible spokesmen, was a spent force in the

Kirchner Gearing Up for 2011

4. (C) Massa described NK as a master tactician who enjoyed a
good fight and was ultimately seized with acquiring and
asserting power for its own sake but did not have a vision
nor the coalition-building skills needed to carry out an
agenda. Massa said he believed NK was intent on running for
president in 2011, and that Daniel Scioli, 52, would run for
re-election as governor of the province of Buenos Aires on
the Kirchner ticket. Asked about rumors that NK and Scioli
might switch -- i.e., Scioli for president, and NK for
governor -- Massa said that might be a fallback plan. He
said Scioli was stuck between a rock and a hard place,
expressing some pity for Scioli's inability to extricate
himself from Kirchner's grasp, particularly as the province
is headed toward a severe fiscal crunch that will require a
bailout from the national government.

Massa's Plans for 2011

5. (C) Massa was emphatic that he would not take the
congressional seat he won in the June 28 elections,
preferring instead to establish a strong record as mayor of
Tigre as a launching pad for his own gubernatorial bid in
2011. He spoke at length about the need to build a capable
team that he could take with him to govern the province. He
noted that CFK's new minister of economy, Amado Boudou,
seemed to be doomed for disaster because he did not have even
a small team of trusted advisers to help him develop policy
and run that portfolio.

6. (C) In that connection, Massa said he had hired Santiago
Montoya, the well-regarded former head of the provincial
revenue service (ARBA) who lost his job when he incurred
Kirchner's wrath by refusing to run as a candidate on the
Kirchner slate in the June 28 congressional midterm
elections. Massa also made a point of picking up his cell
phone and calling Emilio Monzo, the provincial agriculture
secretary whom Scioli had fired the week before, also at
Kirchner's behest. Massa's end of the phone conversation
made it clear he and Monzo were on good terms, and at the end
of the conversation, Massa said he was looking to find a
place for Monzo in his city administration.

Labor Problems in Tigre

7. (C) Polcouns asked Massa about intractable labor problems
at a food processing plant in Tigre owned by Kraft. Massa
said three times that he believed the company had been in the
right when it dismissed 155 workers for failing to show up to
work in July and then taking plant managers hostage in July.
He implied that the labor leaders at the plant were
extortionist and unreasonable. He made clear that he did not
see a useful role for himself in resolving the standoff, and
he was at a loss for predicting how it might end.


8. (C) As noted reftel, Massa, 37, is smart, charismatic, and
well-liked, with an open, inclusive style that did not fit
well with the paranoid, combative Kirchners. He is generally
pro-American and, unlike others in the GOA, did not resort to
any cheap shots against the United States. Like his
predecessor, Alberto Fernandez, he emerged relatively
unscathed from his service in the Kirchner administration.
He is focused now on positioning himself for the governor's
race in 2011. In the interim, he clearly enjoys his job as
mayor and is highly popular in Tigre. Ambitious and young,
he already has an impressive record of public service (five
years as head of ANSES, the Argentine social security
administration; a year as mayor of Tigre; and a year as
Cabinet Chief). Most likely, he sees himself as a long-term
presidential contender, and we would put him in the same
generational league as other promising presidential prospects
such as Salta governor Manuel Urtubey, 40, and Chaco governor
Jorge Capitanich, 44.

© Scoop Media

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