Silvina Batakis, nicknamed La Griega (“the Greek”), a leftist economist of Greek descent, was appointed Finance Minister in Argentina on Sunday, a day after the abrupt resignation of Martín Guzmán.
Batakis will be responsible for managing an economy burdened with inflation running at an annual rate above 60 percent and will play a key role in determining the future of the country’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund to restructure $44 billion in debt.
Many left-leaning members of the governing coalition oppose the IMF agreement.
54-year-old Batakis previously served as Secretary of Provinces in the Ministry of the Interior and as economy minister of Buenos Aires Province under Governor Daniel Scioli from 2011 to 2015.
A descendant of Greek immigrants to Argentina, Batakis was born in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, and grew up in Río Gallegos, Rafaela, Taco Pozo and La Plata.
She graduated with a licenciatura on economy from the National University of La Plata in 1993. Additionally, she possesses a master’s degree in public finances and a master’s degree in environmental economy from York University.
Batakis has a bedside book of Nikos Kazantzakis
According to the Argentinian journal Clarin, she loves literature and has two bedside books: The Reason for My Life, by Eva Duarte, and Carta al Greco, by Nikos Kazantzakis.
Batakis is also a well-known fan of Boca Juniors and, whenever her work and the campaign allow it, she attends football matches at the Bombonera.
Guzmán was largely unknown when he became minister and was seen as a moderate in the governing coalition, which includes more left-leaning elements allied with Vice President Cristina Fernández, a former president who still has a strong base of support.
Batakis, on the other hand, has a long history of public service and is believed to be close to the vice president and her allies.
The vice president, who is not related to the president, has recently taken to publicly criticizing the administration’s economic policies in high-profile speeches that have put a spotlight on the rifts within the governing coalition.