Sixty and one hundred, the days that link Massa with Neuquén
Sixty days are the days that, according to the business community, the Minister of the Economy has to reverse the current national economic mess. One hundred days are the days that the MPN is counting on to reach the open internal primary elections.
The deadline is also known by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Vice-President of the Republic and architect of the arrival of the "tigrense" (as Massa is known) to the national cabinet. Argentina has time until the beginning of November to get its economy back on track, otherwise investors and governments of the major countries of the World will wait until the inauguration of the authorities of the next national administration that will come out of the presidential elections scheduled for October of next year.
Cristina knew it on March 28th when she received in her Senate office the ambassador of the United States, Marc Stanley. From that day on, the vice president worked on the strategy to dissuade president Alberto Fernández from the risks that meant not to politically influence the economic direction of the country.
On July 2nd, Martín Guzmán left (the ministry), Silvina Batakis took over for a few days, and then Sergio Massa arrived. The current minister bears the national government's road map with the primary objective of reaching November with an improved economy and a rising social mood.
On Sunday, August 7, the American ambassador received the new minister, Massa, at his home. It happened just five days after he took over the portfolio of Economy, Energy, Livestock and Fisheries. During the meeting, they reviewed the issues that occupied the "tigrense" in view of the official trip he will make to North America on August 29th.
According to what we have been able to gather, in that meeting, were defined the meetings that the Argentine representative will hold with authorities of the United States. Among the priorities is a meeting with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, to whom Massa will ratify the fulfillment of the agreement signed last March, which establishes, by the end of the year, to lower the deficit to 2.5% of GDP.
The agenda with Stanley also includes a meeting with the President of the Central Bank, David Malpass. In addition, he will meet with the Director for the Western Hemisphere of the National Security Council of the United States, Juan González.
During these days, Massa's advisors and U.S. embassy officials were working on two meetings that would be added to Massa's agenda, with two very important U.S. government officials: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Deputy Secretary David Lipton.
Vaca Muerta in the eyes of the U.S.
Twenty-four hours after the meeting with the Argentine Minister of the Economy, the US ambassador set foot in Neuquén, three days before the start of Argentina Oil and Gas Patagonia, where he was one of the main protagonists during the opening ceremony.
Stanley's agenda in Neuquén was occupied with joint activities with the Governor, Omar Gutiérrez, with whom he visited Loma Campana, an non-conventional oil field of which the US company Chevron is partly owner in partnership with YPF. He also held a speech at the Argentine-Texan Chamber of Commerce in Neuquén.
Stanley had a private meeting with the vice-governor, Marcos Koopmann, with whom he also had a working breakfast together with provincial legislators from different blocks that make up the Neuquén legislature. In all the meetings, the US ambassador praised the potential of Neuquén and Vaca Muerta and expressed his hope that the national economic scenario will change for the better in the next two months.
The US official has become a militant in insisting on the political time that the current national government has in order to have chances to overcome the current economic crisis.
Stanley's arrival ahead of Minister Massa's visit was not a coincidence. Those who listened to the American ambassador and to the minister agreed in saying that they basically "think the same". It remains to be seen whether the sixty days that are running will work in favor of all or just a few.
Massa in a historic AOG
The AOG (Argentina Oil & Gas) Patagonia has passed and left its mark. It is agreed that it was the most important in recent years, the most enthusiastic observers described it as "historic".
Massa's visit to the AOG left the sensation that he is committed to bring solutions to the sector. The signature of the decree that establishes the lifting of the "oil dollar" restrictions was the sign of "love" that the oil establishment was asking from the government of Alberto Fernandez, from the very moment he took office as president.
In the meeting that Massa held with the big players of Vaca Muerta together with representatives of the provincial government and the former governor, Jorge Sapag, they reviewed all the pending issues and the difficulties the sector went through in the last four years of activity.
A commitment was made to work together so that the process does not suffer any further delays and the investment plans in infrastructure are accelerated in order to increase the levels of gas and oil production.
Sapag and future challenges
At the request and proposal of two of the most important shareholders of two companies operating in Vaca Muerta, Jorge Sapag became the honorary coordinator of a group of "thinkers" whose mission will be to turn the development of Vaca Muerta into a State policy.
After that meeting, the "tigrense" wanted to go beyond what had been agreed by mentioning Sapag as "his" advisor, something that the former governor later clarified by placing himself as a collaborator "of all" those who want and long for the recovery of our country.
The AOG served to highlight the status of Neuquén and Vaca Muerta in the national and international context. In the last 10 years, the Neuquén fields received investments for 40 billion dollars. In the next 8 years it is expected that companies will invest another 60 billion dollars, at an annual rate of more than 7 billion dollars.
The investment plan foreseen till 2030 is tied to the construction of pipelines, prices, availability of foreign currency and confirmed exports to neighboring countries. This is the road map that the government of Neuquén and the big players of Vaca Muerta conveyed to Sergio Massa during his visit to the AOG Patagonia.
The one who will have to work so that all the planets are aligned and the agreed points are achieved will be the former governor, Jorge Sapag. He will do it from the place he knows best: without public office and in dialogue with all sectors. It is said that there are already drafts that intertwine between the big players of vaca Muerta and the former governor of Neuquén, imagining local legislative endorsements and those of the National Congress.
In the political field, Massa's publicly expressed preference for the MPN National Deputy Rolando Figueroa did not go unnoticed. The Minister of Economy is very fond of Figueroa in a relationship of years and he did not hide it during his speech at the AOG.
It was the "talk" of everyone and surprised many to such an extent that from the Blue sector they relativized the effect of the hugs to Figueroa and the statements that Massa made about him.
It is clear that the MPN dominates the provincial political scene with two installed candidates, the official Marcos Koopmann and the opponent, Rolando Figueroa.
“Illustrious" leaders for the MPN
The presentation of lists of candidates to renew the authorities of the provincial party confirmed what was expected. The blue sector will keep the leadership of the party as no opposing list was presented. The Governing Board will be under the control of Omar Gutiérrez and the Convention will be presided by Jorge Sapag.
An incumbent governor and a governor with a completed mandate will be at the head of the most important provincial party in Argentina. In the composition of the list of names that will lead the MPN, there is a strong presence of Gutiérrez's sector in the Governing Board and of individuals close to Jorge Sapag in the Convention.
Darío Lucca, president of CALF, was recognized with four seats in the list of the party leadership which has him as one of the main protagonists of the next composition of the party Convention. The distribution also includes names of municipal officials linked to the leadership of Mayor Mariano Gaido in the provincial capital.
The party leadership will be established on August 22nd and will be calling for open internal elections to cover provincial and municipal elective and legislative positions on September 9th. It is estimated that the date will be the first or second Sunday of November, which will be the 100 days of time that the MPN has to get her act together and head for the next battle which is estimated to be in April of next year.
Ramón is coming
Meanwhile, Ramón Rioseco deepens his presence in the “Confluence” (of the rivers Neuquén and Limay). During the weekend he held meetings in Senillosa, Plottier and Neuquén city.
He foresees the creation of a provincial political front that exceeds the scope of the "devalued" Frente de Todos. He is going for the "quiroguismo", for the grassroots leadership of the moderate left, for the local community parties that have influence in different localities of the province and he wants in his team the thinkers and militants of the "pure breed" Peronism.
He knows that time is running out and that the next 100 days are also the road map he has drawn up in his new attempt to become governor of Neuquén.