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ARGENTINA | 05-07-2024 16:55

Stories that caught our eye: June 28 to July 5

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

 

MILEI SHUNS MERCOSUR

President Javier Milei will not be attending the Mercosur Summit in the Paraguayan capital of Asunción as from next Monday, thus avoiding any contact with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with whom his relationship is increasingly tense and sending Foreign Minister Diana Mondino in his place. Instead the presidential focus will be on signing the ‘Pacto de Mayo’ in Tucumán early next Tuesday with all the provincial governors and other authorities willing to join him, after which he will return to this city for the traditional Te Deum in the metropolitan catedral, followed by an Independence Day  military parade along Avenida Libertador.   

 

WHERE´S LOAN?

For the third weekend running, the whereabouts of five-year-old Corrientes boy Loan Peña remained unknown at press time but on Tuesday there was a massive demonstration in the streets of the provincial capital holding Corrientes Radical Governor Gustavo Valdés responsible.

 

PRO SPLIT DEEPENS

The rupture in the PRO centre-right party now chaired by ex-president Mauricio Macri became all but irreversible last Thursday when the delegates backing Security Minister Patricia Bullrich walked out of a party assembly amid a fierce debate over the relationship with the ruling La Libertad Avanza, as well as refusing to accept the deputy and former Pinamar mayor Martín Yeza as the head of the assembly. Bullrich’s sector took umbrage at PRO limiting itself to "support" for President Javier Milei instead of a party merger but Macri does not want the party he founded to lose its identity.

 

CRISTINA BREAKS SURFACE

Former two-term president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ended a long silence last weekend via an extended interview with the militant journalist Pedro Rosemblat on his streaming channel Gelatina when she blasted President Javier Milei as "the only person who still believes that Argentina’s problem is the fiscal deficit … instead of the lack of dollars." The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the death of Juan Domingo Perón last Monday. She did not comment on the ongoing trial of the September, 2002 assassination attempt against her, which continued last Wednesday.

 

STATE JOB CUTS CONTINUE

ATE state workers union called a series of protests for August 1 last Monday as 2,300 more public employees lost their jobs. The cuts included 85 percent of the former Women, Gender & Diversity Ministry, as announced by Justice Minister Mariano Cúneo Libarona. On the same day the government extended the 2022 decree prohibiting state hiring until next September via Decree 551/2024 published in the Official Gazette. The 2022 decree contained various exceptions in the education and health sectors, as well as the security forces and national parks.

 

REIDEL CHIEF ADVISOR

Demian Reidel, a physicist and economist who seconded Federico Sturzenegger when governor of the Central Bank (a post for which Reidel was previously tipped) and who was named by President Javier Milei while in Prague a fortnight ago as being as worthy of a Nobel Prize for Economics as himself, was confirmed as chief presidential advisor ad honorem in the Official Gazette last Wednesday. Reidel lived many years in the United States with various Wall Street links.

 

MALVINAS OIL

According to The Telegraph newspaper, British plans to extract 500 million barrels of oil from around the Malvinas will be placed before the islanders in a plebiscite called last June 24 and voting on August 5. The oil field is estimated to contain a total of 1.7 billion barrels of oil, several times more than North Sea oil. 

 

BANKS BACK CAPUTO?

The bank associations ABA, ADEBA and ABE on Monday declared their support for the government  decision to switch public debt from the Central Bank to the Treasury although Wall Street took a dimmer view and country risk rose above 1,500 points.

 

PESO GOES CHACHO IN LA RIOJA

As from last Monday La Rioja has started to circulate the provincial quasi-currency known as “Chachos” in honour of the local caudillo Ángel Vicente Peñaloza (1798-1863), an initiative first announced by the Peronist Governor Ricardo Quintela at the start of the year. The banknotes will range from 1,000 to 50,000 chachos in theoretical parity with the peso. Quintela justified the move with “the national government shortfalls in remitting the funds corresponding to the province, devaluation, austerity and the profound crisis which all provinces are undergoing.” The provincial government already started paying public employees in the new currency last month. Last Tuesday Quintela met with Cabinet Chief Guillermo Francos to discuss the revival of public works in his province, also confirming that he would not be in Tucumán next Tuesday to sign the ‘Pacto de Mayo.’

 

TÉLAM REDEFINED

The government has confirmed the closure of Télam as a state news agency and its transformation into an advertising outfit with the publication of Decree 548/2024 last Monday in the Official Gazette. Curtains for the news agency founded in 1945. In the four months since its closure was announced in the presidential state-of-the-nation address to open Congress, the government has been pressing employees to accept voluntary retirement programmes.

 

LET THEM DRINK SUPERSOUP

Despite a frozen budget, Quilmes University has begun the production of a highly nutritional “supersoup” for distribution in soup kitchens to compensate for government shortfalls, the university’s chancellor Alfredo Alonso announced on Thursday. 

 

SEX ABUSE CLAIMS

A court last Wednesday confirmed that La Matanza Mayor Fernando Espinoza would be placed on trial for the presumed sexual abuse of his ex-secretary Melody Raskaukas in 2021, slapping a lien of 1.5 million pesos on his assets. The court thus ratified the decision of the judge of first instance María Fabiana Galetti to press charges which include defying a restraining order. In related news, this space last weekend reported that five women had accused the veteran international journalist Pedro Brieger of sexual harassment – by last Tuesday this number had already grown to 19.

 

CHACO FEMICIDE

As from last Thursday not only César Sena will stand trial for the femicide of his wife Cecilia Strzyzowski but his parents Emerenciano Sena and Marcela Acuña as well as “necessary partícipants,” a charge which leaves them also liable to life imprisonment in a trial set to start next spring. Emerenciano Sena was a highly influential picket leader in Chaco until last year when the femicide landed him in jail while his patron, the previous governor Jorge Capitanich, lost the provincial elections.

 

 NAHIR SENTENCE CONFIRMED

The Supreme Court last Tuesday upheld the conviction of Nahir Galarza for shooting her boy-friend Fernando Pastorizzo dead in 2017. Her life sentence was ruled correct by the justices Ricardo Lorenzetti, Juan Carlos Maqueda and Horacio Rosatti. The daughter of a policeman, Galzara used her father’s service firearm to shoot Pastorizzo in the back in Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos. The crime was recently given widespread publicity by a film sympathising with Nahir.

 

CONAN’S LAW ON THE MOVE

The Chamber of Deputies last Wednesday began debate on the so-called "Conan law” against cruelty to animals in response to presidential insistence but also the concern of numerous pet-owners. The bill launched by PRO deputy Damián Arabia stiffens the fines and prison sentences now going up to five years against those guilty of cruelty to animals. Three other deputies have submitted bills with lower prison sentences but all going beyond the current maximum of a year.

 

MONA STRIKES IT RICH

Veteran popular singer Juan Carlos ‘La Mona’ Jiménez has broken into the rankings of Forbes magazine since the Córdoba idol’s accumulated fortune of US$9 million makes him the fourth-richest Argentine musical star, behind only Indio Solari, Palito Ortega and Los Pimpinela.

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