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ARGENTINA | 29-09-2023 09:37

Stories that caught our eye: September 22 to 29

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

 

POVERTY TOPS 40% 

Two out of every five Argentines were below the poverty line in midyear, the INDEC national statistics bureau reported on Wednesday afternoon, with the exact figures being 40.1 percent and almost 18.5 million people if projected from the INDEC data base of the urban population. Meanwhile the destitute had risen to 9.3 percent from 8.1 percent at the end of last year despite a policy of frequent government handouts. The main worry of analysts here lies less in the minimal increase since the last measurement of 39.2 percent at the close of 2022 as in fears of what the second half of this year will bring in the wake of the double-digit monthly inflation since last month’s post-PASO devaluation.

 

MENDOZA MAKES IT AN OPPOSITION HAT-TRICK

Mendoza closed out the final round of voting before next month’s general elections last Sunday with a resounding triumph for Radical Senator Alfredo Cornejo, thus making the 2015-2019 governor the first person in local history to return to the top provincial post, while Peronism suffered a historic defeat. The result was seen as a late boost for Juntos por el Cambio presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich, who was quick to fly to the Andes to celebrate her hat-trick, following Radical victories in the two previous weekends in Chaco and Santa Fe. Cornejo netted just under 40 percent of the vote with his strongest challenge coming from the right in the person of PRO deputy Omar De Marchi breaking with the opposition coalition, who polled just under 30 percent. The Peronist candidate Omar Parisi could not even reach 15 percent, barely ahead of the Green Party’s Mario Vadillo with almost 12 percent.

 

MASS(A) IN POCKETS

On the last day when he can make announcements which might be construed as electioneering without violating the electoral curfew, Economy Minister Sergio Massa (who is also the Unión por la Patria presidential candidate) announced on Tuesday bonus payments of 47,000 pesos each for October and November, to be funded by advance corporate tax payments to be made by the financial sector and major companies reporting profits of above 600 million pesos.

 

MARRA’S MISCUES

Libertarian mayoral candidate Ramiro Marra, who was widely seen as the protagonist of Wednesday evening’s television debate when he took on his rivals Jorge Macri (Juntos por el Cambio), Leandro Santoro (Unión por la Patria) and Vanina Biasi (Frente de Izquierda), preceded that showdown on Tuesday when he attacked the public television programme for children  Pakapaka for criticising Spanish colonialism. Reacting to a child telling him that the Spaniards were the villains and the Argentines the good guys, Marra said: “I’m Spanish, I have a Spanish passport and my grandparents were Spanish. They were not bad people and neither am I.” Last weekend Marra had proposed the sale of public television to invest in health and education, including Pakapaka in his critique. “Everybody has the right to tell history their way but not with my taxes,” concluded Marra. His comments were predictably repudiated by many.

 

CRISTINA & THE COURTS

Poised at press time to hold a key Senate session aimed at tweaking the Judiciary in her favour alongside approving two bills virtually eliminating income tax and amending rental legislation approved earlier this month by the Chamber of Deputies, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was also active on other courtroom fronts last week. Last weekend the former two-term president had already said that she would be appealing the “arbitrary “ Federal Cassation Court rulings overturning her acquittals in the Hotesur-Los Sauces money-laundering and Memorandum of Understanding with Iran cases. On Monday Juntos por el Cambio presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich defended her recommendation that the ex-president be sent to a maximum security prison if convicted on those or other charges. On Wednesday the vice-president’s lawyers waded into the dramatic switch in the testimony of Brenda Uliarte, one of the three people arrested for the attempt on the vice-president’s life at the other end of September last year, when she insisted that Fernando Sabag Montiel aiming a pistol at CFK’s face was no lone wolf but must have “somebody behind him” – they pointed out that PRO deputy Gerardo Milman, a pet culprit for masterminding the attack, had three mobile telephones other than those confiscated by the courts.

 

CHOCOLATE IN THE NEWS

Three weeks after electrician Jorge ‘Chocolate’ Rigau was caught in a La Plata ATM cashing 48 debit cards belonging to allegedly bogus employees of the Buenos Aires provincial legislature, the episode continues to spark acute controversy in some circles and a stony silence in others.

 

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

A mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of CGT secretary-general José Ignacio Rucci (gunned down with 23 bullet wounds in Avellaneda on September 25, 1973) was attended by teamster leader Pablo Moyano and libertarian vice-presidential candidate Victoria Villarruel, among others in the congregation. The trade union leader’s children Agustín and Claudia Rucci were also present with the latter gratified by Villarruel’s presence but deploring 50 years of impunity for her father’s death.

 

GROSSI STAYS ON AS NUKE MONITOR

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday re-elected Argentine Rafael Grossi as its director-general for a further four years. Elected in 2019, Grossi is the first Latin American to head the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog.

 

PALERMO BODY IN LAKE

A body was found floating in Victoria Ocampo lake in the Palermo neighbourhood last Monday. The dead man was believed to be a homeless person but had yet to be identified at press time while results of an autopsy to determine whether his his death was violent were still awaited. The incident comes less than a month after the nearby slaying of engineer Mariano Barbieri on August 30, also in Palermo. 

 

PIZZA PREEMINENCE

Two Argentine pizza parlours were recognised among the top 100 in the world, according to the ranking published on Monday by The Best Pizza Awards 2023. They were Electric Pizza in Villa Crespo (58th) and Ti Amo in Adrogué (73rd). 

 

LUCIO DUPUY’S KILLERS

The life sentences of Magdalena Esposito Valenti and Abigail Páez for the brutal slaying of the former’s five-year-old son Lucio Dupuy in late 2021 were confirmed by the La Pampa provincial supreme court on Tuesday with fresh evidence of abuse of the dead child emerging. The case also became controversial because of the custody battle around the boy, prompting a magistrate to entrust him to his mother’s care.

 

30 YEARS FOR CIGARETTES

Chilean-born Adolfo Enrique Sandoval Farías, 62, left his Comodoro Rivadavia home in February, 1993, to go around the corner to buy cigarettes but was then never seen again for more than 30 years until he was traced in the same city last Monday. The missing man attributed his disappearance to marital difficulties.

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