Estela de Carlotto is 91 years old, and in the hours of deepest uncertainty on a Sunday of political madness in Argentina, she picked up the phone to ask the president for something very simple: to speak with his vice president. Alberto Fernández, who seems to be fed up with Cristina Kirchner, paid attention to the old woman, and from that conversation came the name of the new Minister of Economy of Latin America’s third largest GDP: Silvina Batakis.

Estela de Carlotto was kidnapped in 1977, during the last military dictatorship, her daughter, Laura, who never appeared again. That the president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo was decisive in avoiding a devastating political crisis in Argentina speaks of how degraded the Peronist government is. After meeting on Saturday with a furious resignation of his until then minister, Martín Guzmán, Fernández took 28 hours to announce a successor.

“I’m Argentine, so I said: ‘I can’t keep quiet watching what’s happening and how our country’s health is being played out,'” Carlotto said in statements reproduced by “Página/12.” It was then that, at half past five on Sunday afternoon, she called the president, who complained that the vice president did not answer his calls.

“I told him: ‘I insisted. Think of the Homeland, think of the people who voted for you and Cristina.'”

It is not clear what would have happened if a lady who is nine years short of turning one hundred had not intervened, but the consequences of the lack of authority and decision on the part of the president were noticed this Monday: the peso was strongly devalued in the informal exchange market: if on Friday the dollar was sold at 239 pesos, three days later it jumped to 267.

Fernandez sounded out other candidates – they all told him no – before settling on Batakis and getting the approval of his vice president. The new minister held the same position a few years ago in the province of Buenos Aires, and until now she was Secretary of State, in charge of relations with the provinces, in the Ministry of the Interior. Most of the Argentine media interpret her arrival in her cabinet as a triumph for the vice president and a capitulation for the president, since Batakis was the right hand of Eduardo De Pedro, Minister of the Interior and Kirchner’s bishop in the government.

If the weekend was a political madness, Monday was not far behind. As is often the case in Argentina when uncertainty takes over the scene, online banking services (home banking) stopped working or did so very intermittently.

Jorge Giacobbe, owner of a pollster and political analyst, said during a conversation with a group of foreign correspondents that not much can be expected from Batakis in a country with 80% annual inflation: “You cannot believe in a agreement between Alberto and Cristina, it was a conversation between two liars”.

Gerardo Morales, governor of Jujuy and leader of the opposition Radical Civic Union (UCR), was temporizing: “Batakis has a very good relationship with all the country’s governors, he has always had a productivist profile.”

Daniel Scioli, Minister of Production and former Governor of Buenos Aires, showered his former minister with praise: “She is a person of great human quality and great practical experience. Absolutely predictable and reliable, reasonable, rational.”

That’s what the markets expect: predictability. Without citing sources, the TN news channel said that Batakis, 53, will continue to respect the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), harshly criticized by the vice president and one of the reasons for Guzmán’s resignation, unable to to fulfill it in the face of Kirchner’s boycott of his decisions.

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