(L–R): Argentina's incoming Vice President Victoria Villarruel and President Javier Milei. (AP)

(L–R): Argentina's incoming Vice President Victoria Villarruel and President Javier Milei. (AP)

Explainer: Who's Who in Javier Milei's Cabinet?

By Chase Harrison and Jon Orbach

With a goal of eliminating some ministries, Argentina’s new president has picked a smaller-than-usual team to help him carry out his agenda.

This article was originally published on December 7, 2023 and has since been updated.

Javier Milei won Argentina’s presidency with a right-wing vision, advocating for both heterodox economics, such as dollarization, and social conservativism. But since his November 19 victory, Milei has walked back some of his more strident rhetoric, perhaps reacting to the fact that more than half of Argentines want to see their new leader moderate, along with a need to navigate a lack of a congressional majority

Milei’s cabinet selections, which he announced at the start of December, give further indication of that move to the middle. Some named members of his administration, like presumptive Economy Minister Luis “Toto” Caputo, are seen closer to the center. But many of his top officials, such as Diana Mondino for foreign minister, are figures close to him and from his Liberty Advances coalition.

Milei’s cabinet is smaller than usual, fulfilling his pledge to shrink the number of ministries. There were 18 ministries; now there are nine. The ministries of education; labor, employment, and social security; and social development are all now the ministry of human capital. The health ministry was initially poised to become a secretariat within the ministry of human capital before a last-minute about-face. Meanwhile, Milei eliminated the ministries of transportation, environment, women, and culture, with some of their functions absorbed into other cabinet functions.  

Vice President: Victoria Villarruel

Voters elected former national deputy for Buenos Aires Victoria Villarruel, 48, as vice president alongside Milei. Villarruel is a lawyer, former radio host, author, and activist who has questioned the number of citizens killed and disappeared during Argentina’s dictatorship. Villarruel was a signatory of the Madrid Charter, a far-right treatise promulgated by the Spanish political party Vox.

During the campaign, she was outspoken in her opposition to gay marriage and abortion.

Foreign Minister: Diana Mondino

Diana Mondino, an economist and businesswoman, went from serving as a national deputy for Buenos Aires to running the foreign ministry. During the campaign, she served as a senior economic advisor to Milei. Until recently, Mondino, 65, was the director of institutional affairs and a professor of finance at the University of CEMA in Buenos Aires. In 1991, Mondino founded Risk Analysis, a local risk rating agency that Standard and Poor’s later acquired

Mondino has signaled she will follow through with pledges made by Milei on the campaign trail to promote close ties with the United States and Israel, along with skepticism about China. In July, she said the country should stop “doing any more shady deals with autocrats” and reiterated Argentina’s interest in being “friends of the United States and any other … democratic country.” However, both Milei and Mondino have walked back claims that Argentina does not want to trade with China or Brazil, the country’s top trade partners.  

Ahead of Argentina’s planned January 1 entry into BRICS—a bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—Mondino said the new government will not join. When it comes to Mercosur, Mondino believes the trade bloc needs to be modernized but supported the signing of a deal with the EU before talks collapsed December 7. 

Economy Minister: Luis “Toto” Caputo

For his economy minister, Milei selected Luis “Toto” Caputo, 58, who served as finance minister under former president Mauricio Macri (2015–2019). Caputo also served as the president of Argentina’s Central Bank for just over three months in 2018. As finance minister, Caputo was able to expand Argentina’s access to credit, selling $2.75 billion in bonds. The functions of the finance ministry were absorbed into the treasury in a 2018 reshuffle but will be overseen by the economy ministry, just as during the presidency of Alberto Fernández.  

Known as the “Messi of finance,” Caputo has not publicly supported Milei’s pitch to dollarize the economy or shutter the central bank. News of the incoming president’s decision to select him led to a rally in Argentina’s markets, reflecting hope he will helm a center-right economic regime that is more moderate than the economic promises made by his future boss. But, prior to his name being announced, Caputo met with Argentine financial leaders and said, "Our approach is fiscal and monetary shock from day one.” 

Chief of Staff: Nicolás Posse

The chief of staff is Nicolás Posse, a close friend and former coworker of Milei. In this role, Posse will assist Milei with the day-to-day management of the executive branch. He has already been the incoming president’s right-hand man at transition summits. Posse has no prior government experience. His last private-sector role was as an executive in the airline industry, and he met Milei while working on an ongoing project to create a railroad to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Health Minister: Mario Russo

Cardiologist Mario Russo will serve as Argentina’s health minister following the Milei government’s announcement—one day before the December 10 inauguration—that the health ministry will not be condensed into the human capital ministry as planned. Russo served as health secretary in two municipalities in Buenos Aires province and has practiced in Italy and Spain. He will grapple with what several confederations of medical professionals in Argentina have called a worrying lack of supplies—particularly for dialysis—and a lack of funding, especially for cardiovascular treatment.

Justice Minister: Mariano Cúneo Libarona

Criminal lawyer Mariano Cúneo Libarona, 62, is Argentina’s justice minister. Cúneo Libarona rose to fame in the 1990s for various cases: getting Guillermo Cóppola, Diego Maradona’s then-manager, out of jail in a drug dealing case; defending the sister-in-law of then-President Carlos Menem (1989–1999) in a cocaine trafficking case; and spending a month in jail for allegedly helping cover for two policemen accused of stealing evidence related to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

Milei signaled that Cúneo Libarona will focus on naming the head of the Anti-Corruption Office, modifying the composition of the Council of Magistracy that appoints judges, and helping Milei fill vacancies in the Supreme Court and attorney’s general role. He has said that the corruption case against Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will continue.

Security Minister: Patricia Bullrich

When representing Argentina’s Together for Change coalition, Patricia Bullrich, 67, finished third in the country’s first-round presidential election. She now helms the security ministry.

She and Milei exchanged barbs during the campaign season, but the two made up following Milei’s first-round victory. Bullrich has experience as security minister, having served the same role under Macri between 2015 and 2019. In that government, she called a national emergency on security, revived the Internal Security Council to combat narcotrafficking, and upped funding for the police at both a provincial and federal level.   

Defense Minister: Luis Petri

The defense ministry is led by Luis Petri, Bullrich’s running mate in the 2023 elections. Petri, 46, is a former national deputy from the state of Mendoza and ran for governor in that state in 2023 before being tapped by Bullrich. He is the only well-known member of his party, the Radical Civil Union, to publicly back Milei.

Interior Minister: Guillermo Francos

Former Inter-American Development Bank Executive Director for Argentina and Haiti Guillermo Francos, 73, has decades of experience in the private sector and was elected as a national deputy in 1997. As interior minister, Francos is tasked with liaising between the executive and the provinces.  

Human Capital Minister: Sandra Pettovello

Sandra Pettovello, 55, is in charge of the new human capital ministry, which combines what used to be the labor, education, and social development ministries. A journalist and businesswoman, Pettovello’s political experience involves nearly two years as vice president of the Union of the Democratic Center party.

Infrastructure Minister: Guillermo Ferraro

Guillermo Ferraro, 68, is the first-ever head of Argentina’s infrastructure ministry, which condenses those of transportation and public works, as well as various secretariats. The minister will focus on policies aimed at producing more oil and natural gas, as well as the infrastructure needed for export and transportation. Ferraro has both private- and public-sector experience. He worked in the Industry Secretariat in the early 2000s and served as deputy secretary of Information and Telecommunications between 1988 and 1991.