Argentine Ex-President Bemoans Brain Drain, Loss of ‘Our Jeff Bezos’ to Uruguay

Mauricio Macri laments the fact that MercadoLibre founder and CEO Marcos Galperin now lives in the neighboring country as a result of the current Argentine government’s policies that, Macri claims, disincentivize investment

Macri was in power from 2015 to 2019 and is a fierce critic of the current government
October 14, 2022 | 12:51 PM

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Montevideo — Argentine former president Mauricio Macri has highlighted the disagreement of technology entrepreneurs with regulations introduced by the current government of President Alberto Fernandez, and lamented the fact that, as a result of said policies, “we expelled our ‘Jeff Bezos’ to Uruguay,” referring to Argentine entrepreneur, founder and CEO of MercadoLibre (MELI), Marcos Galperin.

Macri made the statements in an interview on Thursday with Argentine newspaper La Nación’s multimedia outlet LN+.

Galperin has been living in Uruguay for the past two years.

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“A country is made by a group of leaders who understand that politicians do not generate wealth. People generate wealth to be able to distribute it later. The United States is the United States because of Bill Gates. Obama was a good president, but Bill Gates makes America great,” Macri said.

Responding to a comment by his interviewer that Marcos Galperin lived on the other side of the River Plate, the former president, who served from 2015 to 2019, responded with a comparison to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Macri, who is also a former president of Argentine soccer team Boca Juniors, also made a comparison with soccer to get across his point of view, saying that while politicians are in charge of taking care of the field, for example, by cutting the grass and putting the nets in the goals, it is “the people that score the goals”.

“Now, if, as a goalkeeper, you want to take away the ball, the goals, ethen verything goes to hell, which is what happened in Argentina. We are public servants,” he said in a criticism of the current government.

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In addition to Galperin, Globant’s founders Martín Migoya and Guibert Englebienne have also moved to Uruguay, as has Sebastián Serrano of Ripio, the former president of Fiat Argentina Cristiano Rattazzi, Federico Tomasevich of Puente, and Facundo Garretón, former deputy of PRO and founder of InvertirOnline.

In an interview with Bloomberg Línea earlier this week, Martín Migoya was asked why some Argentine entrepreneurs had moved to Uruguay, after Argentina’s ambassador in Montevideo, Alberto Iribarne, stated that the reasons were mainly to do with taxes.

“Unpredictability generates scenarios of anxiety among entrepreneurs,” Migoya said in the interview. “As long as this is not understood and it is thought that it is a fiscal issue, we are in the greatest error of understanding that Argentina has made in its history. It is not a fiscal issue. It is an issue of unpredictability”.

In the midst of the foreign exchange crisis suffered by Macri’s government in 2018, Galperin expressed his support for the former president’s administration.

In a tweet at the time, Marcos Galperin said: “It will take 20 years to change Argentina if the current route is followed. On the way there will be loca, regional and international turbulence. We’re coming from a long way down, but we are getting better. Remember that we are nowhere near to being Venezuela!”

Back in 2016, Galperin had attended an investment and business forum in Argentina organized by the Macri government as a speaker, an event that was dubbed ‘a mini Davos’.

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Macri, a presidential candidate in 2023?

Regarding domestic politics in Argentina, Macri said he believes “in competition” and in “new leaderships”. “Look how many leaders the [center-right Propuesta Republicana party] PRO has today in the field. I believe in that,” he said.

There has been speculation in Argentina that Macri will run for the presidency again in 2023, but no official announcement has yet been made.

Both the governor of the City of Buenos Aires Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and former minister Patricia Bullrich are also potential candidates in the 2023 presidential elections.

Macri ended his administration with a poverty rate of around 35.5%, according to Argentina’s statistics bureau INDEC. The former president closed the first year of his administration with poverty at 30.3%, and in 2017 it had dropped to 25.7%, before increasing again, according to news portal Ámbito Financiero.

During his administration, Macri negotiated a $57-billion loan with the International Monetary Fund, despite which economic conditions continued to deteriorate in Argentina.