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Women Take Key Gov't Roles in South America
The appointment of two women into the Argentine cabinet raises hopes and fears
Fernando Marino-Aguirre (kalonik)     Print Article 
Published 2005-12-07 11:51 (KST)   
On the Rise: Argentina's new Minister of Finance Felisa Miceli (left) and Defense Minister Nilda Garré
©2005 Govt of Argentina
There's no doubt that the main adviser of Argentine president Nestor Kirchner is his wife Senator Cristina Fernandez. A woman with her own political weight, she has accompanied her husband since the 1970s.

When Kirchner was elected president in 2003 and she took on the role of First Lady, she preferred people calling her "First Citizen," and she continued with her political career instead of dedicating her time to presiding over tedious duties of protocol.

Everybody knows that she is a strong woman -- even her adversaries know she is an intelligent and tenacious politician.

Last week, when two women assumed their positions in the presidential cabinet, many people expected to see her behind-the-scene influence.

It is not simply two more ministries. For the very first time in Argentine history, two women will head the important ministries of finance and defense.

President Kirchner surely chose both ministers for their capabilities. But he also observed carefully the loyalty of each one of them and by doing that, the opinion of his wife had to be decisive.

Felisa Miceli, the new Minister of Finance, proposes a redistribution of the wealth that her predecessor avoided mentioning. She was the head of the National Bank of Argentina, another space habitually reserved for men.

She will be the one who must negotiate with the IMF and fight to contain the country's increasing inflation. It does not seem to be the work for weak personalities, and President Kirchner (and his wife, of course) believes that she will do it successfully.

Nilda Garré, who was a leftist militant during the 1970s, must now manage the most misogynous of ministries. Until not long ago, the Argentine military thought that women were only decorative objects. They most likely think the same way.

Now, they will receive orders from a woman -- an old leftist, militant -- when judgments on violations to human rights will be reopened, after the Supreme Court of Justice annulled the amnesty laws of the 1980s.

As an antecedent, in Chile, Michelle Bachelet successfully led the Ministry of Defense in spite of being persecuted during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. She is also likely to become a candidate for the presidency and almost surely the next Chilean president.

Just recently, Senator Fernandez was accused of interfering in the internal affairs of Chile because she expressed her support for Bachelet's candidacy. In Argentina, many politicians and analysts expressed their disagreement with Miceli and Garre's appointments.

Perhaps South American politicians fear women taking power? Or could it be that they fear the progressive policies that these women want to implement?
©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Fernando Marino-Aguirre

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