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ARGENTINA | 01-12-2023 13:43

Patricia Bullrich returns to government as security minister in Javier Milei's Cabinet

President-elect confirms in statement that Patricia Bullrich will return to the Security Ministry for a second time; Former rivals now aligned together in government.

Javier Milei has confirmed that his former rival in the presidential race, opposition PRO party leader Patricia Bullrich, will head the Security Minister in his incoming government.

The news was announced in the daily statement from the president-elect’s office on social media. 

This will be Bullrich’s second time heading the portfolio. She previously held the post for four years, lasting the entirety of former president Mauricio Macri’s 2015-2019 government. She also previously served as labour minister in Fernando de la Rúa’s 1999-2001 administration.

Bullrich’s record at the security portfolio is strong yet controversial. During her tenure, according to official data, the intentional homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants fell from 18.64 to 13.16 between 2015 and 2019. 

However, she was fiercely criticised by human rights groups for deploying a heavy-handed approach to policing and mocked for staging public relations events highlighting drug busts in which only low levels of narcotics were confiscated.

"I have made a commitment to each and every one of you to achieve the profound change that society demands of us, and I will fight that battle from the place I am in today," Bullrich said in a post on her X (formerly Twitter) account reacting to the appointment.

"Real change is possible if the law is applied in every corner of the country, evenly for everyone and without privileges. Argentina needs order. We will be implacable against crime and we will fight relentlessly against drug trafficking. It is simple: he who does it, pays for it,” she stressed.

Bullrich, 67, faced off against Milei in the presidential election earlier this year. The leader of the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition finished third with 24 percent of the vote and failed to qualify for the run-off. 

During a vitriolic campaign, the two had clashed regularly, with the opposition leader even launching legal action against her libertarian rival after he accused her of “planting bombs in kindergartens” during the 1970s.

Politicised since her adolescence, Bullrich was a militant member of the Peronist Youth in the turbulent 1970s, at the height of the Montoneros guerrilla movement, and during the height of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship she lived in exile for a few years.

But Bullrich later threw her support behind the libertarian, saying “change” is “necessary” and helping him secure victory over ruling coalition candidate Sergio Massa in a second-round vote and win the Presidency.

However, her backing for Milei was granted only in a personal capacity and not as the leader of her party. The decision sparked unrest in the opposition coalition and Bullrich will step down both as the leader of Juntos por el Cambio and her own PRO party.

"I will call internal elections for the beginning of 2024 in order to renew the national authorities of PRO Argentina. My decision is not to run for a new mandate. I will dedicate all my effort, energy and time to work for a prosperous and safe Argentina," she wrote on Friday.

The incoming official’s family's history is linked to that of Argentina’s. Her great-grandfather, Honorio Pueyrredón, was a prominent Radical (social democrat) leader and the Bullrichs owned the most important cattle auction house in Buenos Aires in the 19th century. Her brother-in-law, Rodolfo Galimberti, was an important leader in the Montoneros.

She has one son and her current husband is lawyer Guillermo Yanco.

Milei, who won 55 percent of the vote in the run-off to defeat Massa, is set to assume office on December 10.

 

– TIMES/AFP
 

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