A total electorate of 34,332,992 citizens will be eligible to vote nationwide in tomorrow’s midterm elections with 127 of the 257 lower house seats and 24 of the 72 senators at stake, as well as voting at provincial and municipal levels. The senatorial races in eight provinces (Catamarca, Chubut, Córdoba, Corrientes, La Pampa, Mendoza, Santa Fe and Tucumán) will be commanding extra attention since the constant Peronist upper house majority since 1983 now stands jeopardised.
The closing rallies of the midterm campaign were held during the course of the week with the ruling Frente de Todos coalition choosing Merlo for theirs last Thursday, addressed by President Alberto Fernández, Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof and leading BA Province Congress candidate Victoria Tolosa Paz and attended by a silent but loudly applauded Vice-President Cristina Kirchner (exactly a week after her hysterectomy) although she will be unable to vote in Santa Cruz tomorrow for medical reasons. The Juntos rivals of Tolosa Paz, Diego Santilli and Facundo Manes, held their closing rally on the same day with an accent on law and order, saying that they “wanted criminals in jail.” The City branch of Juntos por el Cambio and FIT leftists nationwide closed their campaigns the previous day with the former’s leading Congress candidate María Eugenia Vidal (accompanied by ex-president Mauricio Macri) calling on voters to “set limits on Kirchnerism.” Meanwhile the Juntos opposition lifted all their Greater Buenos Aires campaign rallies in the first half of the week in the light of the murder of kiosk vendor Roberto Sabo in La Matanza. Other campaign sidelights included Congress PRO caucus chief Cristian Ritondo denouncing espionage of his rally in Zárate by a municipal official from the town hall headed by local Kirchnerite mayor Osvaldo Cáffaro.
RAMOS MEJÍA MURDER
The killing last Sunday of kiosk vendor Roberto Sabo, 48, in the Greater Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Ramos Mejía (La Matanza) ignited the security issue like no other crime last week (and there were others), sparking indignant protests and clashes with the police in the area despite the prompt arrest of Sabo’s killer, Leandro Suárez, 29. Government responses to these concerns such as Security Minister Aníbal Fernández commenting that crime was worldwide or Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof pointing out that the problem dates a long way back failed to defuse public anger.
On the eve of voting, the “blue” parallel dollar closed yesterday at the iconic 200-peso level (even if below Thursday’s peak of 207 pesos), close to double the official exchange rate of 105.25 pesos, as quoted by Banco Nación, or 174.60 pesos for savers with the 65 percent surcharges. By selling nine-digit totals of dollars daily the Central Bank was able to hold the other parallel rates – CCL (contado con liquidación) and MEP (mercado electrónico de pago) – down to testimonial levels of 184.08 and 183.98 pesos respectively although the parallel rates of these parallel rates were more in the region of 215 pesos. Country risk also closed high yesterday at 1,753 points, or some 30 points above the levels of the previous week.
INFLATION ON RISE AGAIN
Last month’s inflation was 3.5 percent despite the recent price freezes for a total of 41.8 percent for the first 10 months of this year, INDEC statistics bureau reported on Thursday. Both core inflation (3.2 percent) and food and beverages (3.4 percent) were below average with health (4.7 percent) the main culprit, followed by the recently reopened sectors of restaurants and hotels (4.1 percent) and recreation and culture (four percent). On the same day the government confirmed that pensions would be updated by 12.11 percent for the last quarter of this year.
The three chambers grouping laboratories have agreed to freeze the prices of prescribed medicine until January 7, rolling back their prices to the start of this month, Domestic Trade Secretary Roberto Feletti announced last Monday, thus confirming an agreement reached on November 4. The communiqué clarified that individual labs retained the right to adhere to the decision of the chambers or not.
THE WEEK IN CORONAVIRUS
There was a total of 116,222 deaths and 5,304,059 confirmed cases of coronavirus contagion at press time yesterday as against 116,083 deaths and 5,295,260 cases the previous Friday. On Wednesday City Hall began its campaign of booster vaccinations against Covid-19 for citizens who had completed their double dose at least six months ago. On the same day the national government announced that it would be administering booster doses to health workers and the 70-plus age group. On Thursday President Alberto Fernández announced that Argentina would be donating half a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam, 450,000 doses to Mozambique and 31,000 to three Caribbean islands after 20 months of being a purely recipient country. Argentina has an estimated 26 million doses yet to be distributed.
NEW CGT TROIKA
The CGT trade union umbrella grouping renewed its leadership on Thursday with teamster Pablo Moyano joining previous secretaries-general Héctor Daer and Carlos Acuña in a new triumvirate.
The Red Cross has identified the remains of six Argentine soldiers buried on the Malvinas islands, providing closure to their families after 38 years of uncertainty. The report was presented to the diplomatic missions of Argentina and the United Kingdom in Geneva on Tuesday. This project followed on from the First Humanitarian Project Plan, which led to the exhumation of the remains of 122 Argentine soldiers at Darwin cemetery and the identification of 115 of them.
MARADONA CASE CONTINUES
The seven medical professionals being tried for the death of the football idol Diego Maradona almost a year ago had their photographs and fingerprints taken in the San Isidro courthouse last Monday. Doctor Leopoldo Luque and psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov are the main defendants, who could be sentenced to between eight and 25 years. Maradona’s eldest daughters Dalma y Gianinna are the plaintiffs in the case, also accusing lawyer Matías Morla, a former partner of Maradona who currently exploits the late star’s brand name commercially.
A tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five Formula 1 racing championships between 1951 and 1957, was held in his birthplace of Balcarce last Wednesday in a ceremony headed by a former triple champion, Scotland’s Jackie Stewart, 82, who was there for his idol’s funeral in 1995 as a pall-bearer.
Thousands of people celebrated Argentina's progress in LGBTQ and women's rights groups last Saturday, with hours of music and marches in downtown Buenos Aires marking the 30th annual Pride Parade. The square in front of Congress and the historic Plaza de Mayo were packed with activists for the 30th incarnation of the pride march, which made a welcome return to the streets after last year's virtual edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic.