INTERNATIONAL NEWS: De la Rua reigns in rowdy spokesman

BUENOS AIRES: After 10 months in office and amid growing criticism of his government's communication policy, Argentine president Fernando de la Rua is reshuffling his PR team.

BUENOS AIRES: After 10 months in office and amid growing criticism of his government's communication policy, Argentine president Fernando de la Rua is reshuffling his PR team.

BUENOS AIRES: After 10 months in office and amid growing criticism of his government's communication policy, Argentine president Fernando de la Rua is reshuffling his PR team.

Last week he ejected his spokesman, 35-year-old rock & roll fan Dario Loperfido, who admits to 'being in love with the media.' He was replaced by the more staid Ricardo Ostuni, de la Rua's private secretary.

Loperfido - who recently appeared on the cover of Argentina's Rolling Stone magazine with his rock star girlfriend - will keep his job as press and culture secretary but relinquish the key media relations function.

In contrast, Ostuni, a 63-year old adman and an old crony of the president, is known as a tango fan and hints that the differences go beyond musical preference. Hours after taking office he revealed that the president himself will talk more often with the media and speak directly to the Argentine people 'without middlemen.'

Loperfido came under fire from the government's own ranks for not spreading the word on the achievements of the center-left coalition, and was also criticized by local PR practitioners for his absence of a real strategy.

The official statement was that he was overworked managing both the culture policy and media relations and therefore asked for reinforcements.

Loperfido is not the only key player in the president's PR team to come under scrutiny. Flamboyant Ramiro Agulla, one of Latin America's most controversial admen, has also quit his post as presidential advisor.

Agulla, head of Lowe-Lintas affiliate Agulla & Baccetti, was acclaimed as a bright campaigner. But according to local PR experts, he never understood the task of government communication and tried to sell and market the presidency instead.

The only original advisor still in place is US guru Dick Morris, who was retained by de la Rua after his contribution to the poll victory last year.

To add to the strife, the overall boss of de la Rua's PR staff is frequently out of the office. Antonio, the President's oldest son, spends most of his time abroad following his fiancee, Colombian pop star Shakira.



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