LABOUR PAINS – UNDER AND ABOVE GROUND
Labour unrest and protests were a theme of the week and while the anti-IMF protest and the teachers strike drew many to the streets, unrest underground had the biggest impact on most porteños. Subte workers, who had already been carrying out industrial action, shut down the service entirely on Tuesday after 16 leaders from an unofficial union were placed under arrest. According to reports, some 700,000 were hit by the unrest, sparking long rushhour queues and traffic chaos. The situation slowly untangled but clashes were still sparking on Thursday. At one point, riot police were sent below ground to tackle demonstrators.
25 DE MAYO MESSAGES
Marking yesterday’s 25 de Mayo national day Pope Francis sent President Mauricio Macri a letter (dated May 22 and arriving on Thursday), saying: “I pray to Our Lord God through the intercession of the Virgin of Luján to grant you the necessary gifts to construct a society with ever more justice, fraternity and solidarity.” Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, the main theme of Buenos Aires Cardinal-Archbishop Mario Poli’s Te Deum sermon was that nobody was “surplus to requirements” in Argentina, neither unborn life nor the poor “nor the old and sick subjected to the euthanasia of neglect.” In his sermon Poli also pointed out that while siding with the poorest of the poor, Jesus Christ also had moments of outreach to tax gatherers, publicans and other wealthy citizens of his time, perhaps implying that the government and the rich are not beyond salvation?
Boris Johnson became the first British foreign secretary to visit Argentina in over 20 years this week when he attended the G20 foreign ministers summit in Buenos Aires. Johnson’s two-day visit to the capital, part of a Latin American tour that included time in Peru, went smoothly and took in meetings with President Mauricio Macri and Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie. The foreign secretary, landing days after fresh disputes over Brexit within Cabinet in London, pointedly used the trip to strengthen his take on the issue, talking up the “massive, massive opportunities” for trade deals that should arise the wake of Britain’s upcoming exit from the European Union. Ending his time in Argentina, the Conservative Party politician departed by heralding a “new, exciting phase” in bilateral relations on Monday at an event hosted by British Ambassador Mark Kent, calling on both governments to “hail this moment.” Perhaps the most important moment of his trip was one of the first, however. On Sunday, the foreign secretary made the historic gesture of laying a wreath at the monument to fallen Malvinas/Falkland War soldiers, a moment laden with symbolism.
ABORTION VOTE: JUNE 13
Lawmakers in the Lower House announced at a press conference this week they will vote next month on legislation that would legalise elective abortion in Argentina. The bill allowing elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy was introduced earlier this year. It has the support of at least 70 lawmakers from across the political spectrum and needs 129 votes to pass in the 257-seat Chamber of Deputies. If it is adopted, the bill would then go to the Senate, where it is expected to face greater opposition. President Mauricio Macri has said he would not veto the measure if it passed, though he opposes abortion personally. Lawmakers said Thursday they expect to vote on the measure June 13. Pro-choice campaigners will seek to pressure lawmakers in the build-up to the vote by holding another-wide pañuelazo on May 28 (International Day of Action for the Sexual Health of Women) and starting the morning of June 12, there will be a vigil outside Congress.
RAPED 10-YEAR-OLD FOUND TO BE PREGNANT
The tale of a 10-year girl, found to be five months pregnant, made headlines this week. The girl, from the northwestern province of Salta, was confirmed as 21 weeks pregnant after her mother took her to a public hospital following abdominal pains. When doctors confirmed the child was pregnant, the girl confessed that she had been raped repeatedly by her stepfather. According to UNICEF data, there are 2,700 births annually each year in Argentina to girls aged between 10 and 14.
NOBEL PRIZE NOD FOR ABUELAS
The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo has been officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. “It’s wonderful to be accepted and nominated but our dream still remains,” the president of the Abuelas, Estela de Calotto told Télam, referring to the organisation’s historic search for young people who were snatched as babies or toddlers from their parents during Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship. The Grandmothers were nominated by lawmaker Daniel Filmus (FpV, Buenos Aires City) for their “more than 40-year struggle in defence of human rights and democracy.” Two Argentines have previously received the Nobel Peace price: ex-foreign minister Carlos Saavedra Lamas in 1936 for his role in peace negotiations in the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay; and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, in 1980, for his defence of human rights during the 1976-83 dictatorship. The Grandmothers have been nominated for the prize five times.
Three people were killed Wednesday when a 90-year-old theatre that was under renovations collapsed in the downtown area of the city of San Miguel de Tucumán, police said. “We are in the middle of rescue work removing the rubble. We are working with firefighters the police and city officials. There is one man who has died, over 18, who has not yet been identified,” a police officer in the northern city told local media. The site of the incident, the exact cause of which remains unknown, was not far from the provincial legislature. Local media reported that a loud blast was heard and smoke could be seen rising above the site.