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ARGENTINA | 11-05-2021 14:43

Former Santa Fe socialist governor Miguel Lifschitz dies from Covid-19

Former socialist governor of Santa Fe Province Miguel Lifschitz passes away at private clinic in Rosario, three weeks after being admitted to intensive care with virus.

Former Santa Fe socialist governor Miguel Lifschitz – the predecessor of the region’s current Peronist governor and the Speaker of the provincial legislative assembly since 2019 – died last weekend of coronavirus after three weeks on an iron lung in "critical condition" in an intensive care ward in a private clinic of Rosario – his birthplace and the launching-pad of his political prominence as its mayor between 2003 and 2011. 

The 65-year-old had tested positive over the weekend of April 10-11, when he suffered the first symptoms.

Born in Rosario on September 13, 1955 (just four days before the overthrow of Juan Domingo Perón), Lifschitz also underwent all three levels of public education in that city, finally graduating in engineering from the local university.

His career in public life began in 1990, in the very first weeks of what was to be a three-decade socialist dominance of Rosario’s City Hall, beginning under the 1989-1995 mayoralty of Héctor Cavallero, who died only seven months ago (also during the pandemic but not from Covid-19). 

After occupying relatively minor posts in his first decade, Lifschitz’s appointment as Public Services secretary in 2001 under then two-term mayor Hermes Binner (who also died less than a year ago, from an acute pneumonia which was not traced to coronavirus) marked the real take-off of his political career, establishing himself as Binner’s heir-apparent. 

As from 2003, Lifschitz served two mayoral terms, at the end of which he was elected as national senator in 2011. As mayor his watchwords were modernisation and decentralisation – his popularity was helped by Rosario being one of the main ports for the commodity price boom of those years during which he displayed a greater capacity for dialogue with the local business community than most socialists.

Lifschitz’s six-year senatorial term was interrupted in 2015 when he was chosen to succeed fellow-socialist Antonio Bonfatti as governor. Harassed by an inability to control the Rosario mafia and by economic recession nationwide as from 2018, his provincial administration was not considered a success, paving the way for a Peronist comeback under Perotti in 2019 after three terms out of power.

Divorced from his first wife and the mother of his four children, Lifschitz’s partner in recent years was provincial deputy Clara García. 

Speaking from Lisbon, President Alberto Fernández joined the mourning for Lifschitz this week, calling him "a whole man whose every effort was in favour of the progress of his beloved Santa Fe" via Twitter.

Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also tweeted: “I deeply regret the death of Miguel Lifschitz and extend my condolences to his family and friends," virtually identical to the words she employed last month when Transport Minister Mario Meoni perished in a road accident.

Ex-president Mauricio Macri recalled a good working relationship with the Santa Fe governor whose term had overlapped with his own presidency.

Governor Perotti expressed his "deep grief" at the passing of his predecessor and political adversary.

City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta likewise spoke of "deep regrets" while "sending a strong hug to his family and loved ones in this painful moment."

Roy Cortina, who heads the socialist wing of the City branch of the Juntos por el Cambio coalition under Rodríguez Larreta, delivered perhaps the most personal message: "Santa Fe and politics in general have lost a valuable leader. Honest, a man of action and dialogue and respected by many people. My condolences to @ClaraGarcia_SF, his family and the militant socialists who accompanied him affectionately to the end. My condolences to family and friends." 

– TIMES with agencies

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