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ARGENTINA | 18-05-2019 11:54

May 13th-19th: What We Learned This Week

A quick round-up of some of the most important – and interesting – stories from the last seven days...

HÉCTOR OLIVARES PASSES AWAY

La Rioja Radical deputy Héctor Olivares, 61, died last Sunday after fighting for his life for three days following last Thursday’s shooting outside Congress. Hopes had been raised when he survived the first 48 critical hours and two operations in two days but his condition suddenly declined rapidly. Olivares, chairman of the Lower House Transport Committee, was not even the intended victim but collateral damage of a gipsy vendetta aimed at his early morning strolling companion, public works official Miguel Yadón, who died on the way to hospital soon after Thursday’s shooting. All the assailants were arrested before Olivares died although the man actually suspected of pulling the trigger, Juan José Navarro Cádiz, managed to escape to Uruguay, where he now awaits extradition.

NO JOY FOR CAMBIEMOS IN CÓRDOBA

Córdoba Peronist Governor Juan Schiaretti was re-elected with an absolute majority last Sunday in the face of a divided Cambiemos coalition which rules nationally while tomorrow La Pampa’s voters go to the polls to elect their future governor. (See Page 6.)

SPYGATE COURT WAR CONTINUES

The Mar del Plata Federal Appeals Court has confirmed Dolores Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla as the judge of the extorsion and espionage case denounced by self-styled lawyer Marcelo D’Alessio but corruption trial prosecutor Carlos Stornelli continues to defy his repeated summonses.

THIS WEEK IN CORRUPTION...

The first of the manycorruption trials against Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will begin on Tuesday as long scheduled but a startling U-turn by the Supreme Court turned the date of commencement into the burning issue of the week. On Tuesday the Supreme Court unexpectedly requested the file, suspending the trial in the interim, but widespread cacerolazo saucepan-bashing demonstrations against “impunity” downtown on Wednesday evening apparently led the justices to give the trial the go-ahead after all. (See full story on Page 5).

CRISTINA GOES BACK FOR THE FUTURE?

Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Tuesday attended a Justicialist Party (PJ) meeting for the first time in 15 years with all the airs of a presidential candidate seeking mainstream Peronist support. This appearance followed her Feria del Libro book launch and last weekend’s landslide Peronist victory in Córdoba provincial elections in the previous week. Those present included teamster leader Hugo Moyano , former Cabinet chief Alberto Fernández, two former Buenos Aires Province governors (Daniel Scioli and Felipe Solá) and three current governors (of Catamarca, Formosa and Tierra del Fuego). In 2017 Fernández de Kirchner had created her own Civic Unity party rather than compete in the Peronist primary but this year she is more open to participation according to PJ chairman José Luis Gioja.

STRIKE CALLED FOR MAY 29

The CGT umbrella labour grouping on Tuesday called a 24-hour general strike for May 29. The adhesion of the transport unions seems to assure the success of the stoppage. The CGT added to its strike call an appeal to the Vatican to canonise Eva Perón in the centenary month of her birth.

MILANI IN THE DOCK

Former Army chief-of-staff César Milani yesterday testified in full uniform at his trial for crimes against humanity during the 1976-83 military dictatorship with a flat denial: “I never tortured, killed nor kidnapped anybody in my life.” He also sidestepped blame by saying: “We received our orders from operational and company commanders” and added a note of self-pity by saying that the sufferings of the Olivera family (abducted in La Rioja in 1977) “end where the sufferings of the Milani family begin.” Milani (former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s choice to head the army between 2013 and 2015) also showed the court fan mail from Mothers of Plaza de Mayo leader Hebe de Bonafini to defend his human rights credentials.

PERU GETS BACK ITS GOODS

Argentina, along with the United States has handed back 92 pre-Columbian treasures – including clay idols, carved wooden sculptures and textiles – from the Inca Empire to Peru. The items were subject to a request from Peruvian officials.

RARE RESPITE

Last month’s inflation gave the government a rare respite in this year’s economic news – still high at 3.4 percent (with core inflation virtually identical) but significantly below both March’s 4.7 percent and general expectations. But inflation over the last 12 months still remains well over 50 percent (55.8 percent). Perhaps the best news was that the basic item of “food and beverages” was below the general average for the first time in many months at 2.5 percent. Education was sharply down from 17.9 percent in the first month of classes in March to 1.5 percent last month. Garments and footwear (6.2 percent), domestic appliances (4.6 percent) and transport (4.4 percent) were all above average. Government sources attributed the slower food prices to the new Essential Products price control programme, expressing hopes that lower inflation would reverse adverse opinion polls.

DOLLAR WATCH

The dollar closed the week yesterday at 46.14 pesos, only fractionally up from last week’s close of 45.80 in an atypically stable week in a volatile year. At the start of the week Morgan Stanley Capital International accepted eight Argentine companies in its Emerging Markets list while country risk retreated ever closer to 900 points.

ARA SAN JUAN FURY

Citing experts, Defence Minister Oscar Aguad said Friday that the sinking of the ARA San Juan submarine in November 2017 was caused by a “lack of training” and “capabilities.” After anger from the relatives of the crew, he backtracked, saying he was blaming the late officers.

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