Two Human Capital Ministry officials resign amid public university protests

Sandra Pettovello’s right-hand man and a liaison with social movements were the latest to resign from the ministry

Two key officials in Sandra Pettovello’s Human Capital Ministry resigned on Tuesday, as hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against the government slashing public universities’ budgets.

The ministry, created by President Javier Milei, is responsible for public education, culture, and welfare programs, among other areas. The Labor Secretariat is also under its authority.

The resigning officials are Maximiliano Keczeli, the ministry’s former Legal and Administrative Secretary and Pettovello’s right-hand man, and Gerardo Marcelo Hita, who was in charge of the relations between the ministry and the social movements. They tendered their resignations on Tuesday morning, which were confirmed to the Herald by a ministry spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that the resignations were unrelated to the nationwide demonstration, stating that Keczeli quit because he was “overworked” to the point that he “didn’t have a life” and Hita left because he was part of Keczeli’s team. The spokesperson said that media outlets made the connection between the resignations and the demonstrations, but that it was baseless.

However, Keczeli and Hita were not the first high-profile officials to leave the ministry.

Fabián Perechodnik, Pettovello’s first chief of staff, resigned five days after Milei took office. In January, labor undersecretary Horacio Pitró was ousted after meeting with union representatives during the negotiation for Milei’s omnibus bill.

In March, Milei fired Labor Secretary Omar Yasín during a live TV interview in the wake of the scandal over senior government officials’ pay. However, authorizing those payments was not in Yasín’s purview, and critics claimed Milei used him as a scapegoat. After Yasín was fired, Julio Cordero, from steel giant Techint and the Argentine Industrial Union, was named as his replacement.

Other people who resigned or were fired from the ministry include Mariana Hortal Sueldo (Pitró’s replacement), Undersecretary of Administrative Management Juan Ignacio López Montoiro (who was forced to resign after a scandal involving him allegedly collecting an improper salary bonus), and Children, Adolescents and Family Secretary Pablo de la Torre, who resigned.

A former member of Pettovello’s ministry said her “chaotic” managerial style pushed several to resign. They cited the fact that ministry officials would be formally appointed only after months of doing their jobs. For example, Hortal Sueldo was officially named on February 15, meaning the country did not have a labor undersecretary for more than a month.


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