Rafael Antonio Bielsa (born February 15 1953) is an Argentine Justicialist Party politician from Rosario, province of Santa Fe. He is the brother of former Argentina national football team coach Marcelo Bielsa; both are well-known Newell's Old Boys supporters. He is also the brother of architect María Eugenia Bielsa, vice-governor of Santa Fe 2003-2007.
Bielsa spent his childhood in Morteros in Córdoba, the birthplace of his mother. He studied at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Rosario and became a lawyer. He is also a poet, writer and essayist.
In 1974 Bielsa started working at the Federal Tribunals of Rosario. In 1977, during the Dirty War, suspected of being a member of the Montoneros radical guerrilla group, Bielsa was detained and taken to the "El Castillo" (also known as "El Fortín") illegal detention centre, where he spent two months of questioning and torture. After a period in Spain, he returned to Argentina in 1980, and started working in different positions of the military government, mainly in the Ministry of Justice.
Upon the return to democracy in 1983, Bielsa worked in a Secretariat of the Ministry of Education in different functions, then in the 1990s at the Presidency and other specific international projects, and then as assessor at the Ministry of Justice, as well as other posts. He published several poetry books during the 1980s and 1990s.
Bielsa was the foreign minister of Argentina from 25 May 2003, when President Néstor Kirchner took office, until 6 December 2005. At the 2005 legislative elections he won a seat in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, representing the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. At the last moment (just before the inauguration ceremony), after a request by the President, he chose not to take office, instead accepting an appointment to become Ambassador in France; however, the next day he retracted (citing moral qualms and the pressure from public opinion as the reason) and decided to occupy his legislative seat after all. Both decisions were heavily criticized by the opposition and political analysts in the media; the latter one was also qualified in harsh terms by government supporters themselves. Bielsa remained close to the President despite these problems.
He competed with fellow party member Agustín Rossi in the primary elections held on 1 July 2007, and was elected candidate of the Justicialist Party for the governorship of Santa Fe by a wide margin. He lost the main election, on 2 September, to the Socialist former mayor of Rosario Hermes Binner. Bielsa received 38.8% of the vote. After acknowledging the defeat, he announced he would also be resigning from his post as deputy for Buenos Aires, which he did five days later.