Saturday, May 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 25-11-2022 08:57

Stories that caught our eye: November 18 to 25

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



Argentina faces Mexico at the World Cup in Qatar this Saturday afternoon on the brink of elimination after Tuesday’s shock 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia. A dubious penalty converted by Lionel Messi placed Argentina in control of the first half but the Saudis struck back with two quick goals early in the second half and the team never regained its poise. The match was attended by FIFA Foundation president Mauricio Macri (who arrived on November 18 and will be in Doha for the month-long duration of the tournament until almost Christmas), among others.



Hebe de Bonafini, the iconic but controversial co-founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, died last Sunday at the Italian Hospital in La Plata just a fortnight short of turning 94. President Alberto Fernández ordered three days of national mourning but was promptly rapped by the Mothers for placing them in the same bag as the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in his tribute to the dead human rights leader. For her part Grandmothers leader Estela Barnes de Carlotto acknowledged the “worldwide recognition” for her Mothers counterpart but underlined that “over many issues she was in absolute disagreement with her.” Other government leaders were more unequivocal in their praise while the opposition was largely silent.



Buenos Aires City Health Minister Fernán Quirós threw hit hat into the ring and announced he is running to replace his boss, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, as mayor of the nation’s capital. Seen as a steady hand who won plaudits for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, the Olivos-born doctor faces a crowded field that includes at least three of his City government peers, Education Minister Soledad Acuña, Government Minister Jorge Macri and Deputy Mayor Emiliano Ferrario.



The Tarjeta Alimentar food card will be hiked 40 percent from 9,000 to 12.500 pesos per child, 19,000 pesos for every two children and 25,000 for three or more for a total annual increase of 90 percent this year, it was officially announced on Monday. The benefit will extend to over four million children (67,353 of them handicapped) in 2.4 million families with its budget rising from 27.6 to 38.5 billion pesos. The following day a meeting of the Minimum Wage Council agreed on the pay floor rising 20 percent to reach 69,500 pesos by March.



Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the victim of an assassination attempt on 1 September, this week called for the prosecution of Gabriel Carrizo, the alleged leader of ‘los copitos’ gang, as a co-perpetrator of the attack. The request was filed as she released messages on Twitter allegedly sent by the suspect on the same night as the failed shooting attack. “We just tried to kill Cristina," read one message that the former president attributed to Carrizo, who is currently detained and under investigation. "The message that you are seeing comes from the expert analysis of the mobile phone of Gabriel Carrizo, the third person arrested for the assassination attempt at the door of my house. The conversations he had that same night with his contacts prove his role as co-author," Fernández de Kirchner charged, quoting another message in which he allegedly wrote “the gun is mine.” The messages were sent on September 1, just two hours after the murder attempt.



The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has downscaled its growth forecast for Argentina next year to 0.5 percent in a major slowdown as a consequence of the economic contraction in the second half of this year although the government is sticking to its budget figure of two percent. The OECD also considers that fiscal austerity will need to be deepened to comply with the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their growth forecast for this year is 4.4 percent on the basis of a dynamic first half.



The INDEC national statistics bureau said this week that economic activity fell 0.3 percent in September from the previous month, ending a streak of five consecutive months of growth. Annually, the economy expanded 4.8% in the same month of the previous year.



Argentina's government will reach an agreement in the next few days to acquire a new presidential plane, according to news reports. Sources from the Presidency confirmed that negotiations over a new aircraft have been ongoing since February 2020. Details of the new plane were scarce, although it is known to be a used Boeing 757 aircraft that has been upgraded by its previous owner. The operation is expected to cost the state close to US$22.23 million and also involves the handing over of the current presidential plane, Tango 01, in part-exchange. Sources told the Noticias Argentinas news agency that the current owner, a US citizen, bought the aircraft as a passenger jet and subsequently upgraded its telecommunications possibilities. "The new plane will allow the president to have constant communication with the outside world, something that is not currently the case," they said.



The AFI intelligence agents accused of illegal espionage on the families of the 44 dead crew members of the ARA San Juan submarine (which exploded underwater in the South Atlantic five Novembers ago) requested their acquittal in court on Monday, insisting that their activities did not go beyond protecting the safety of then-president Mauricio Macri.



Sports fans who show little appetite for the World Cup in Doha were at least able to enjoy the immense talent of tennis legend Rafael Nadal in Buenos Aires this week. The Spanish star played a friendly match against Norwegian Casper Ruud in front of 15,000 people at the Arena Parque Roca, winning in style in two sets.



A group of secondary school students in Corrientes drugged a physical education teacher whom they found too “demanding” by slipping anxiolytics into her water, causing her to pass out and be taken to hospital. Andrea Correa remains on medical leave.  



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