Roberto Lavagna

Roberto Lavagna

Roberto Lavagna (Buenos Aires, 24 March 1942) is an Argentine economist and politician, and was the former Minister of Economy and Production of Argentina until 28 November 2005, when he was replaced with Felisa Miceli, president of Banco de la Nación Argentina. Lavagna took office during the interim rule of President Eduardo Duhalde, in 2002, and had to manage the Argentine economic crisis. He was confirmed in his post by President Néstor Kirchner upon his taking charge on 25 May 2003.

Argentina's latest economic accomplishment, the exchange of more than 76% of the defaulted public debt bonds (worth about 93 billion dollars) for longer-term debt, with an important capital reduction, was primarily conducted by Lavagna.

Lavagna was ousted by President Kirchner on 28 November 2005, after a week or so of persistent rumors followed by official denials. He was replaced by Miceli (who resigned in 2007 over a money scandal, referred to by the press as toiletgate), until then the President of the Nación Bank and a former student of Lavagna's. The reasons for the forced resignation of the Minister were not made public, though speculations ranged from the failures in fighting inflation to recent Lavagna's accusations of cartelization against certain private companies involved in contracts with the government, which were seen as an indirect attack against Julio De Vido, Minister of Public Works and personally close to the President. Lavagna only told the press that the President had decided his removal as part of a common post-election renewal. The next day, José Pampuro, former Minister of Defense, admitted that relations between Kirchner and Lavagna had become "complicated" since the elections, and that the situation was "tense" during the week before Lavagna's removal. Off-the-record sources also indicated that Lavagna's independence clashed with Kirchner's desire to have a homogeneous cabinet.

Lavagna formed a front, UNA (Una Nacion Avanzada, or "An Advanced Nation"), to run against the government's candidate, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in the October 2007 Presidential elections. Senior members of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), Socialists and Peronist supporters of former President Duhalde voiced support for a coalition behind Lavagna's candidacy, although this proved controversial in all three parties. His plan for his first 100 days of government was based on improving security and employment and reducing extreme poverty. At the election, Lavagna was effectively the Radicals' official candidate, with Gerardo Morales, leader of the UCR, as his running mate. Fernández also had a Radical as her running mate, Governor Julio Cobos. Lavagna and UNA came third with over 3 million votes and 17%, behind Fernández and Elisa Carrió.

Following the victory of Fernández, Lavagna reached an accord with his former rivals and held talks with Néstor Kirchner over the future of the governing Justicialist Party (PJ). [] Lavagna was expected to become a vice-president of the Party, seen as a move to widen the base of the Party and strengthen the government of Fernández. However, at the last minute Lavagna declared he would not seek a position on the PJ executive. []

ee also

*Economy of Argentina
*Argentine debt restructuring

External links

* [ Ministry of Economy and Production] of the Argentine Republic website.
* [ Lavagnas Plan] for the first 100 days of government.
* [] Lavagnas Official Website
*Lavagna's resignation in the media (2005-11-28): [ Página/12] , [ La Nación] (in Spanish); [ Financial Times] (in English).

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