The old suburban barons, powerless and relegated to their own districts
They were prominent figures in Buenos Aires politics, their names were heard endlessly in each of the corners of their districts and their surnames decorated the walls and parades of the neighborhoods they governed for years, even decades. What is today the current situation of five ex-intendents from whom the nickname of “suburban barons”?
After the recent legislative debate to enable re-elections, THE NATION inquired about the current situation of five former Buenos Aires leaders and the political panorama that prevails in their districts.
“It doesn’t drive, but it can break,” says a city councilor. front of everythings about Hugo Short, former mayor of February third from 1991 to 2015. During his 24 years in office, Curto knew how to build, through a very personal leadership and good ties with the province and the Nation, a power that he no longer holds today.
“I was re-elected for 24 years, what am I going to think?” He replied, ironically, on the reverse gear in the brake of the re-elections of Buenos Aires mayors that was approved last year in the Buenos Aires Legislature with the endorsement of the ruling party and a sector of Together for Change.
former leader of the Metallurgical Workers’ Union (UOM) and man close to Eduardo Duhalde and to marriage Kirchner, Curto came to the administration after serving a term as a national deputy, beginning his political career in the union arm. In recent years, and having passed the threshold of 80, his activity has been significantly reduced, holding a position in the provincial PJ as president of the electoral board. Today he no longer holds that position.
“[Sobre la marcha atrás en las reelecciones de intendentes] I was re-elected for 24 years, what am I going to think?
Juan Debandi, candidate for mayor of Tres de Febrero in 2019 and head of the list in the municipal legislative elections of 2021, was one of the people who tried to replace Curto. But he was defeated and that marked him in the local PJ.
By a very narrow margin in the 2019 GCs, diego valenzuela (Together for Change) was victorious after a campaign in which requests to cut the ballot proliferated. It was thus that the current mayor of the first electoral section managed to win re-election by three points difference after in August, the five pre-candidates of the Front of All obtained 46%, against 34% obtained by Together for Change.
Despite having won the internal election within his party, Debandi was unable to retain the support of local PJ, which led to a victory for his rival.
For this reason, the Peronist opposition in one of the most populated districts of the Greater Buenos Aires is unraveling in a power vacuum that has not yet been filled. “It’s a hunt”, they commented in the local Frente de Todos in the face of uncertainty due to the party’s leadership.
In the municipality of the first electoral section the situation is similar, although power is still held by Peronism. The strong man used to be Mariano West, mayor from 1995 to 2015, who requested a license between 2002 and 2011 to hold executive and legislative positions in the province.
With a surname that honors his old influences in the western lands, West was able to re-elect himself for 20 years as head of the local executive of one of the most relegated areas of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).
His entry into politics occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, first at the hands of Antonio Cafiero and then close to former Governor Eduardo Duhalde. His career is prolific: he held municipal and provincial executive positions, was elected national deputy and mayor for four consecutive terms, was a provincial deputy and even had the luxury of being a conventional constituent in 1994.
consulted by THE NATION, West excused himself from commenting on the reverse course in the re-election of the Buenos Aires mayors, saying that he is “very retired”. But nevertheless, He said that the nickname “baron of the suburbs” seems “unfair” to him, but that “history perhaps clarifies it”. And he justified his opinion by saying that “the mayors supported the country in 2002 by governing close to the people.”
His departure from the administration took place in 2015, after his Kirchnerist rival, Walter Festa, will win the intern in the primaries. Festa stayed with the mayor for only one period: he lost to the leader of the Avoid Movement, Mariel Fernandez, the first woman to govern the district.
With this panorama, Moreno becomes another AMBA municipality that suffers from the fragmentation of Peronism. Although Fernández has a Deliberative Council plagued by personalities from the Front of All, many continue to respond to former Mayor Festa and are unaware of his leadership.
The figure of the historical Raul Othacehe faded from the moment he lost the Peronist intern at the hands of Gustavo Menendez, in 2015, after 24 years in power.
After flirting with him Renewal Front from Sergio Massa, tempted by his great national election in the 2013 legislative elections, and returning to Kirchnerist Peronism in 2015, Othacehé had to face an internal one in which he was defeated by more than fifteen points difference.
At 75 years old and with a law firm in his name, Othacehé’s power in Merlo is already far behind, and despite the fact that he wants to be politically active, in the western Buenos Aires town his attempts to return are dismissed.
“He is more than anything a historical figure who today does not have preponderance”, said to THE NATION Raul Diaz, Peronist leader of Merlo and current vice president of the state company intercharge, in charge of ground handling for aircraft. “Just keep the last name”Diaz noted.
With the shadows of a power that he knew how to have since 1991, the year in which he was elected for the first time as mayor, “El Vasco” Othacehé wanted to return to the political scene of Merlo in the last legislative elections. However, his list did not even compete in the primaries of the Frente de Todos because the electoral board of the provincial Justicialista party vetoed it due to lack of endorsements. Interestingly, it was his colleague Hugo Curto who, as chairman of the board, made the final decision.
Although Othacehé described the measure as an “absolute lie” and announced that he would go to court, the impossibility of competing further diminished his power, already very worn.
Jesus Cataldo Cariglino was the person who held for five consecutive terms the mayor in this municipality in the north of the Buenos Aires suburbs, from 1995 to 2015.
During his 20 years in power, he was a eternal official, except for the brief period of government of the Alliance, in which the Peronist mayors of the suburbs played a leading role as allies with Eduardo Duhalde, who with the departure of Fernando de la Rúa became president.
Like Othacehé, his political pragmatism led him to join the ranks of Sergio Massa in 2013, sentencing his next end. In 2015, with the seal of the party United for a New Alternative, the alliance formed by Massa and the then governor of Córdoba, Jose Manuel de la Sota, lost to Leonardo Nardini, his rival from the Front of All.
Since then, he has approached the former president Mauricio Macri and began working with a minor position in the executive of the then governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Maria Eugenia Vidal. Today, without any institutional responsibility, he is a member of the ranks of Together for Change under the Republican Peronism.
“Cariglino has lost all kinds of influence and his political weight is marginal at the moment”, said to THE NATION a leader of local Peronism.
His name made headlines in the last legislative elections when Margaret Stolbizer questioned the radical leader Facundo Manes for incorporating the ex-baron of the suburbs in 7th place in his list of pre-candidates for national deputies with the seal Take the Step.
Given this, the neurologist responded ironically by saying that “we can’t import norwegian”, and added that the incorporation of Cariglino was the product of the alliance with the Peronist side of the coalition.
The southern municipality of the Buenos Aires suburbs was commanded by Baldomero “Cacho” Alvarez for 18 years, after being re-elected for four consecutive terms as mayor since 1991.
His departure from power was atypical: he never lost. His leadership was diluted in the hands of Jorge Ferraresi, who knew how to be his ally when he left the mayor’s office to be minister of Social development during the governorship of Daniel Scioli.
Ferraresi, current mayor with a license request who works as minister of Territorial Development and Habitat of the Nation, is the one who exercises power in Avellaneda and who very subtly snatched command from Álvarez.
“Ferraresi drives remotely”, said to THE NATION a source close to the current minister. And he added: “He has a deliberative council chaired by his right hand, which is Hugo Barrueco, and an executive with Alex Chornobroff, which is completely related to it”.
This person, close to local Peronism, attributed the stealthy replacement of Ferraresi to Álvarez to “the political position of that moment.” “When Cacho left for the province there was a very harsh Christian Kirchnerism that had nothing to do with Néstor [Kirchner], and George [Ferraresi] more in line with that.”he explained.
After a period as a provincial senator, “Cacho” was losing prominence in his territory and is currently working together with the man who unseated him. Interestingly, the roles were reversed and the person who used to be his subordinate is today his direct boss.