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Jan 28th-Feb 3rd: What We Learned This Week

What has happened the last seven days?

Saturday 2 February, 2019
Macri and Vidal.
Macri and Vidal. Foto:NA

More Argentina News

VIDAL PULLS PLUG ON VOTING DAY SPECULATION

Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal on Tuesday and City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta on Wednesday announced that they would not be separating local voting in their key districts from the general elections on October 27. (See full story on Pages 1 & 6)

DEAD COW DISPUTE

The conflict between the government and the Techint Group over gas production subsidies in the Vaca Muerta shale deposits escalated in midweek when the multinational said it would be reconsidering its investments. The Mauricio Macri administration is ignoring all projects only approved by the Neuquén provincial government and subsidising gas on the basis of conservative initial estimates rather than actual output, which is often double. (See full story on Page 4)

CASAS WINS THE RIGHT TO RUN

La Rioja Governor Sergio Casas may seek re-election this year after winning a controversial plebiscite last Sunday overturning a provincial constitution ban on three successive candidacies on a gubernatorial ticket (Casas ran for lieutenantgovernor in 2011). Casas won by 69,000 votes to 44,000 in a 45 percent turnout thanks to an overwhelming rural margin. (See Page 7 for more comment on this and a whole lot more.)

PHEW WHAT A SCORCHER!

If temperatures in some parts of North America were below 50 last week, it was not quite the opposite extreme here but it came close at times. It would be easy to open up here but we’re afraid that once we start writing there’ll be no end to our complaining. Safe to say, it was pretty hot.

HOW NOT TO WRITE AN EDITORIAL

Yesterday’s La Nación editorial extolling the courage of “child mothers” in going ahead with delivery, instead of commenting on the horror of their situation as rape victims sparked widespread outrage both beyond and within the newsroom.

AMIA V. DAIA ROW

The AMIA Jewish community centre publicly asked its sister organisation DAIA (the umbrella for Jewish associations) to drop its case against Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for signing the memorandum of understanding with Iran as “harmful for the community in general” even though AMIA had always been “firmly opposed to the pact with the enemy of Israel.” AMIA argued that the case against the former president only deepened the political rift (“grieta”) dividing most Argentines. This new stance was decided in a January 15 meeting but the news only broke on Thursday. Yesterday DAIA said that they would persevere with the case.

MACRI, THE MOTOCHORRO AND THE JUDGE

Judge Patricia Guichandut last week found herself at the heart of a controversy drawing adverse presidential comment when she decided to let off a Colombian motorcycle thief who had snatched an iPhone from a teenager with nothing more than a 700-peso fine. The magistrate pleaded ignorance of the defendant’s previous criminal record and insisted that she followed the law in deciding the fine as “in proportion to the damage caused to the victim and within the means of the accused” with no objections from the prosecution. Judges could only apply the laws, not make them, she argued. The verdict was quickly criticised by first City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and then President Mauricio Macri, who indignantly tweeted: “With this kind of justice no police force can do its job.” Yesterday the Justice Ministry formally denounced the judge to the Magistrates Council.

TASTELESS ‘JOKE’ BACKFIRES

Belgian cyclist Iljo Keisse was kicked out of the ongoing Vuelta a San Juan bicycle race and fined 3,000 pesos by a judge for simulating sex with a waitress seeking a selfie with his teammates while warming up. The waitress denounced him to police and Keisse subsequently apologised.

TOURISTS IN TROUBLE AGAIN IN SAN TELMO

The San Telmo neighbourhood was the scene of a second violent mugging of a foreign tourist in five weeks when a Canadian was assaulted and stabbed in the shoulder by a gang of four in the small hours of Thursday, only four blocks away from where a Swede was shot by a thief just before New Year, resulting in the amputation of a leg early last month. In both cases a mobile phone was the target. The police did not immediately realise the situation and sent the man to hospital for intoxication, not his injuries.

SPORTS DNU SPARKS ANGER

A week after his controversial DNU emergency decree for asset recovery, President Mauricio Macri signed a new DNU last Wednesday redefining the national sports authorities – downgrading the current secretariat to an agency but also authorising the new body to handle private funds in what is widely seen as a stepping-stone towards the privatisation of sport. The decree even permits the sale of the department’s current assets, including over 700 hectares of Olympic and other training-grounds and watercourses for rowing.

PRESS TIME: AT LEAST 1 DEAD IN HOTEL FIRE NEAR OBELISK

A fire starting in the 5th floor of a downtown hotel yesterday afternoon left at least one person dead and dozens injured, four critically (See Page 9 for more).

MORALES VERSUS MORALES

Asurname in common did not prevent Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales from crossing swords with Bolivian President Evo Morales this week, repudiating his failure to grant Argentine visitors reciprocal healthcare. This latest spat arose when a Jujuy musician Manuel Vilca, 35, suffered broken bones in an accident in Oruro nearly two months ago and was charged around US$7,000 for medical treatment with a demand for US$ 10,000 more due to a titanium implant (in contrast to the free attention given to Bolivians in Jujuy according to its governor). Vilca was finally repatriated on payment of a further US$2,000. Yet this is not the first clash between the two Morales, of course, since the Bolivian president has repeatedly protested against the arrest, trial and conviction of Túpac Amaru social activist leader Milagro Sala as “political persecution.”

Op-Ed

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