Friday, June 14, 2024

ARGENTINA | 09-06-2023 13:47

Stories that caught our eye: June 1 to 8

A selection of stories that caught our eye in Argentina and beyond over the last seven days.



A summit meeting of the Juntos por el Cambio opposition coalition gathering the heads of member parties had to be adjourned last Monday without even progressing to the central point of the agenda – the proposal of Jujuy Radical Governor Gerardo Morales that Córdoba Peronist Governor Juan Schiaretti be incorporated into their alliance. The meeting started with Federico Angelini (replacing and representing presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich, on leave as Pro party chair) objecting to libertarian deputy José Luis Espert’s entry into the coalition even before considering the far more controversial recruitment of Schiaretti. City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta is the leading supporter of broadening the coalition with both Bullrich and ex-president Mauricio Macri strongly opposed. But the Radicals were also divided with Senator Martín Lousteau and deputy Facundo Manes in favour of Schiaretti’s entry and Senator Alfredo Cornejo against while among other allies Civic Coalition leader Elisa Carrió and Republican Peronist Miguel Angel Pichetto (Macri’s 2019 running-mate) backed a broader alliance with libertarian Ricardo López Murphy disapproving. Blocked on Monday, Espert received the green light to enter Juntos por el Cambio on Thursday (with the approval of Bullrich). In general the focus of those welcoming Schiaretti is the middle ground and consensus politics while those against seek uncompromising reforms with the option of looking to Javier Milei’s libertarians for support.



A total of 13 Peronist governors met at the Federal Investment Council (CFI in its Spanish acronym) on Wednesday where they urged a single presidential candidate within a “federal unity list,” also calling for the definition of a national electoral strategy and platform for Frente de Todos, as well as rolling out the welcome mat for other parties. The meeting gathered together the governors of  Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Chubut, Entre Ríos, Formosa, La Pampa, La Rioja, Misiones, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Santiago del Estero and Tierra del Fuego, Despite the governors’ plea, most pundits consider contested PASO primaries to be inevitable for Frente de Todos.



Libertarian leader Javier Milei on Wednesday confirmed Ramiro Marra as the City mayoral candidate of La Libertad Avanza. He also reiterated his confidence in reaching the run-off in this year’s elections, in which case he considered victory to be certain.



Salaries whose gross monthly average does not top 880.000 pesos in the first half of this year will be exempt from income tax, the Economy Ministry announced on Wednesday, terming this “an extraordinary one-off benefit … with the aim of restoring purchasing-power for more consumption and economic activity.” Around half of tax-paying employees or over half a million people stand to gain.



Pope Francis, 86, underwent an urgent abdominal operation for a hernia and will be inactive for several days, the Vatican informed on Wednesday. In mid-2021 the Pope, whose knee cripples him at times, had part of his colon surgically removed in order to treat a painful intestinal disease known as diverticulitis.



Hosted by President Alberto Fernández himself in Olivos presidential residence 20 months ago, cumbia singer L-Gante (the stage name of Elián Valenzuela) suffered a reversal of fortune when he was arrested in the western Greater Buenos Aires district of Moreno on Tuesday, the aftermath of a night-club clash with a General Rodríguez municipal police officer in which the singer flourished a firearm 10 evenings previously. According to the charges, L-Gante, 23, bundled the policeman and a friend into his car at gunpoint and was quoted as saying on his mobile telephone: "Prepare the field for this jerk so that we can kill him” but ended up releasing them at a service station. On Thursday L-Gante denied the whole story, calling it a setup to destroy him.



Economy Minister Sergio Massa will be joining a mission of his economic team in Washington next week in ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure upfront advances of IMF remittances and redraft the terms of the agreement reached last year in a context of runaway inflation and drought. Massa had a one-on-one meeting with President Fernández Alberto Fernández in the Casa Rosada in midweek – the content of their conversation was not officially disclosed but since 13 Peronist governors had called for a single presidential candidate shortly beforehand, their agenda may well have been as much political as economic. Yet Economy Ministry sources informed that their talk had centred on the negotiations with the IMF, Massa’s recent trip to China and tax relief.



Weighing his options between his former cash-strapped club Barcelona, a Saudi Arabian offer of eye-watering sums and Inter Miami (co-owned by David Beckham), football superstar Lionel Messi finally decided in midweek on the latter and is set to continue his stellar career in Florida.



Last weekend’s football match between River Plate and Defensa y Justicia had to be suspended in the middle of the first half when River fan Pablo Serrano, 53, fell to his death from a high stand at the Monumental stadium. Toxicological tests were carried out to determine whether Serrano was under the effects of alcohol or drugs at the time of the tragedy since he had jumped rather than falling accidentally or being pushed, according to the official River communiqué.



City Police officer Facundo Torres was arrested last weekend on charges of planting a toy gun on the scene of the 2021 police slaying of Barracas footballer Lucas González in order to make the victim seem a potential criminal and questioned by magistrate Vanesa Peluffo on Monday morning. Torres had been identified by Inspector Héctor Cuevas, accused of covering up the crime, who had insisted that “there had been no type of gun, neither firearm nor toy, at the scene (originally).” The 14 police defendants maintain that they had mistaken the slain youth and his three friends for fleeing robbers after the latter had speeded away thinking in turn that the unmarked police car was driven by criminals.



The playing career of Colombian striker Sebastián Villa in Boca Juniors is over after being convicted on June 2 for gender violence against an ex-partner with a suspended 25-month prison although he remains on leave in the football club while his contract lasts. He now faces a further trial for sexual abuse. According to the prosecution, Villa tried to bribe his victim to head off the trial.



A stuttering flow of dollars to low-cost airlines is causing them problems with 39 Flybondi flights cancelled last Wednesday after two planes of its 12-strong fleet had to be grounded while JetSmart was hit by a strike of personnel working for the state-run Intercargo luggage transfer and air freight company. Flybondi claimed that they were US$11 million short over the last two months but the dollars were being denied by the government. Thousands of passengers were affected.  



Such is the expectancy for the United States singer-composer Taylor Swift that fans were already camping out in River Plate stadium over five months ahead of her concerts between November 9 and 11 with winter approaching. Tickets for those concerts range from 16,000 to 85,000 pesos (with even more expensive options available too). The Pennsylvania-born Swift, 33, whose albums sell in the millions, includes among her local fans Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who proclaimed himself a “swiftie” on TikTok. 

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