Amid strong rumors, politicians welcome De Pedro-Manzur bid

Ruling coalition Unión por la Patria (UxP) has yet to confirm the ticket

With two days until the deadline to announce presidential candidates, rumors reached a fever pitch today regarding who will run for the ruling coalition Unión por la Patria (UxP).

According to senior politicians, Interior Minister Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro will run for president in the August primaries with Tucumán Governor Juan Manzur as his candidate for vice president. 

The UxP has yet to formally announce the ticket. However, both head of the General Confederation of Labor Hugo Yasky, and Vice Governor of Tucumán Osvaldo Jaldo have tweeted their support for Wado and Manzur’s candidacies.

“Supporting [De Pedro] and [Manzur] as candidates for president and vice president. To a great, united, and fair Argentina,” said Jaldo. “This is the ticket that represents all the provinces in the country and that the interior [provinces outside Buenos Aires] and Tucumán will back.”

Jaldo and Manzur were set to run for governor and vice governor respectively this year before the Supreme Court declared Manzur’s candidacy unconstitutional.

Following a meeting with businessmen at the headquarters of the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA, its Spanish acronym), De Pedro sought to calm the waters.

“I am someone who wants to be [a presidential candidate] but always prioritizing consensus,” he said. “There’s still a little bit more to go.”

De Pedro posted a video on Twitter half an hour later echoing the same sentiment, saying that he wishes to be a presidential candidate without confirming the rumors that he would be running alongside Manzur.

If confirmed, De Pedro would compete against Argentina’s ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli, the only other confirmed candidate of the coalition so far. Social leader Juan Grabois has also said he intends to run for president, but his press team told the Herald last week that if there were to be a candidate in the representation of “the decimated generation” —meaning the children of those killed by the last military dictatorship—, like Wado de Pedro, he would work with them “on a joint program supporting them.”

There were also intense speculations throughout the day about what offices Economy Minister Sergio Massa and Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof could run for in the primaries. Their press teams did not confirm any of the rumors to the Herald.

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Who is Wado de Pedro?

Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro (46) was born in Mercedes, Buenos Aires province. He is the son of two militants who were victims of state terrorism during Argentina’s last military dictatorship. He was two years old when he was kidnapped by the military in an operation in which his mother was murdered in 1978. He was returned to his family in January 1979.

His personal connection to the horrors of the dictatorship led him to become a social and political activist himself, demanding justice for the crimes against humanity committed between 1976 and 1982.

In 2006, De Pedro co-founded the Kirchnerist political organization La Cámpora and is one of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s closes allies — he was the presidential general secretary during her last term as president. 

He has also been vice president of the state-owned airline Aerolíneas Argentinas and served as national deputy for the province of Buenos Aires.

He became Interior Minister for the current administration in December of 2019. He is one of the only ministers who has remained a cabinet member since the beginning of Alberto Fernández’s government, although he was the first of many Kirchnerite officials who said he was willing to resign after the government’s 2021 loss in the legislative elections.

Who is Juan Manzur?

Juan Manzur is currently the governor of Tucuman. He was Alberto Fernández’s Chief of Staff from September 2021 to February 2023. He went on leave from Tucuman’s government during that time and returned to finish his term.

One of the most powerful members of the Partido Justicialista (PJ), he is a representative of one of the more conservative sides of Peronism.

Although a doctor by training, Manzur has dedicated most of his life to politics. His political career started in 2003 as health secretary of La Matanza, one of Buenos Aires province’s main urban districts.

In 2009 he was appointed health minister by Kirchner during her first term as president. He was elected governor of Tucumán in 2015 and was reelected four years later. 

Manzur has been the subject of harsh criticism for his anti-choice views on abortion, including within UxP He declared Tucumán to be a “pro-life” province in 2019, denying access to abortion in cases that were permitted under the Penal Code prior to its full legalization in 2020.

Today, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, one of UxP’s candidates for Buenos Aires City mayor and former head of the Women, Genders, and Diversity Ministry, said in an interview with Radio con Vos that she has “no affinity” with Manzur, whom she has clashed with because of his anti-choice views.

“The matter is that we need a front that is as powerful as possible, and that demands heterogeneity,” she said. “Manzur is not the candidate I would have chosen, but we are happy that Wado [De Pedro] is [the presidential candidate]”

Manzur was also in the eye of a recent political storm being declared ineligible to run as Jaldo’s vice governor in Tucumán by the Supreme Court. The fact that his candidacy followed two consecutive terms as governor was found to be unconstitutional. Manzur later withdrew his candidacy and elections went ahead in Tucumán on June 11.

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