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Classified By: CDA Thomas P. Kelly for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

¶1. (S) Summary: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner's (CFK) promotion of former Justice Minister Anibal
Fernandez (AF) to Cabinet Chief puts in place someone with
six years of experience working for the First Couple, first
as former president Nestor Kirchner's Interior Minister and
then as CFK's JusticeMinister. By dint of his office's
physical proximity to the President's as well as his
portfolio's constitutional responsibilities, AF is in a
position to wield significant power and influence, and is
already playing a key role in shaping Casa Rosada politics,
policy, and message.

¶2. (S) AF has been the most accessible member of CFK's
Cabinet for the Embassy, but, unlike his two immediatepredecessors, he has also not been shy about vociferously
attacking the USG (or any other target) in order to defend
the Kirchners. Like many Argentine politicians, he is dogged
by corruption rumors, including ties to narcotrafficking,
according to unsubstantiated press and intelligence reports
(ref A). Additionally, he is suspected of directing
intelligence teams to clandestinely monitor theemails of the
administration's political opponents, according to separate
intelligence reports (refs B and C), and he has been linked
to reported CFK administration efforts to secure additional
votes illegally in Buenos Aires and Cordoba provinces ahead
of the June midterms. Despite the varied and persistent
accusations of corruption lodged against him, however, there
is no hard evidence.End Summary.

CFK Rewards Fernandez' Loyalty with Cabinet Chief Post
--------------------------------------------- -----

¶3. (C) Former Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Security
Anibal Fernandez (AF) became CFK's third Chief of Cabinet
since she assumed office in December 2007. A longtime
Peronist and a close ally of former President Nestor Kirchner
(NK), AF has worked over six yearsfor the presidential
couple, since the first day of NK's term. He has been one of
the administration's most outspoken public defenders, first
while serving as NK's Interior Minister and later as CFK's
Justice Minister. Many viewed AF's promotion to Cabinet
Chief as a reward for securing in his hometown of Quilmes one
of the few significant Kirchner victories in the June 28
mid-termelections (ref E).

Origins of the Cabinet Chief Post
---------------------------------

¶4. (C) As Cabinet Chief, AF has considerable power and
influence. The authors of the 1994 constitutional reforms
intended the position to be a check on presidential power as
a watered-down prime minister, although in practice the
Cabinet Chief has become a presidential chief of staff,
spokesman, andall-purpose firefighter. The Cabinet Chief is
technically responsible for the collection of national taxes;
submitting the executive's budget request to Congress;
co-signing executive decrees; appointing administration
employees not designated by the President; and overseeing the
Cabinet's ministers. Additionally, the President's Cabinet
Chief is expected to report at least monthly to Congress,alternating between the Lower House and the Senate. (Note:
The last two cabinet chiefs, Alberto Fernandez and Sergio
Massa, appeared before Congress less than once a year; Anibal
Fernandez will make his first such appearance this week.)

Under the Ks, Cabinet Chief Influence Grew
------------------------------------------

¶5. (C) Under the Kirchner administration, the cabinet chiefposition has grown in influence beyond its
constitutionally-proscribed powers. Since 2002, the
Argentine Congress has annually authorized economic
"superpowers" for the executive branch. Originally enacted
to address the 2001 financial crisis, these controversial
superpowers enable the Cabinet Chief to redistribute federal
funds coming from export taxes and tax collections above and
beyond...
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