December 10, 2013
Who is inside Macri’s mysterious ‘red circle’?
Last weekend, Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri talked about a mysterious “red circle” whose members allegedly pushed him to seal a deal with Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa.
This obscure group of “thinkers, decision-makers,” as Macri described them, supposedly convinced the PRO leader to run “circumstantially” alongside Massa “in order to stop” the ten years of Kirchnerite rule.
But who are these people — and why is Macri suddenly talking about them?
A complicated position
The first thing to take into account is that over the past few months the City mayor tried to show he had closed a deal with Sergio Massa. The Macri-Massa accord was just hot air — “if the agreement actually exists, where’s the photograph?” Massa ally Felipe Solá told the Herald before the August primaries — but it was an elegant way to conceal the fact that the PRO party was not able to present a list of its own in the pivotal Buenos Aires province, two years before the presidential elections.
The rest is well-known: Massa ended up being the big winner of the August 11 primaries, which boosted him to front-runner for 2015.
It was in this context that Macri chose to talk to a select group of media outlets — anti-Kirchnerite newspapers Clarín, La Nación and Perfil — to ratify his presidential aspirations and develop his idea of the “red circle.”
Macri’s big players?
The first instinct could be to analyze Macri’s statements as a reference to economic powers — a mysterious elite that supposedly encouraged him to form a special electoral alliance in order to beat Kirchnerism in the midterms.
Sounds familiar? Yes. And no.
Unlike the “big players” named by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in her first appearance following the primaries loss in which she famously said she did not want to debate “benchwarmers,” Macri did not make public the members of his “red circle.”
While the head of state specified who she was referring to when she said she wanted talks with big-league players — bankers, manufacturing leaders, union figureheads, who were then publicly invited to a series of meetings — the PRO leader gave no further indication as to the identity of the people who allegedly thought Macri, Massa and even former president Eduardo Duhalde were “potential additions” to a political front, as Macri told Perfil.
Dissident Peronist Francisco de Narváez, a former Macri ally for the 2009 elections, yesterday dared the City mayor to “erase any doubts” about who these people are.
“He must avoid insinuations and speak clearly on the matter,” De Narváez said.
Preparing to run away
But there’s another — simpler, less conspirative — way of looking at it.
Under this light, the “red circle” is nothing more than an influential group of politicians, business leaders, journalists and opinion leaders who allegedly inspired Macri to join forces with other opposition candidates to beat the ruling Victory Front (FpV) in the midterms.
This interpretation is also plausible considering it’s similar to how Ecuadorean publicist Jaime Durán Barba, Macri’s long-time advisor, has in the past described influential decision-makers who are part of a political microclimate.
In Sunday’s newspapers, and without giving any names, Macri made a nebulous — yet very conscious — reference to that elite, implying they were the ones who wanted him and Massa to run together against CFK. And hinted he went along with the plan unwillingly.
Now, when Macri begins to criticize Massa as the presidential contest heats up, no one can accuse him of having been a full-fledged supporter of the Tigre mayor only months earlier.
Just like with out-of-office emails, his automatic reply message has already been set: “The red circle made me do it.”