US AMBASSADOR PRADO TAKES UP RESIDENCE
The United States’ Ambassador to Argentina, Edward Prado, took up residency in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, filling a year-long vacancy at the Embassy that began with the departure of Obama-appointee Noah Mamet in January 2017.
Prado submitted his credentials to Argentina’s Foreign Minister Jorge Fraurie at a ceremony on Thursday at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The Ambassador said he hoped to “deepen the friendship and permanent collaboration” between both countries. Prado directly addressed the Argentine people, speaking Spanish, in a video upload on the Embassy’s social media on Tuesday. In it, the 70-year-old oultined his vision for Argentine-US relations and expressed his appreciation of basketball star Manu Gibóbili, traditional Argentine food like choripán and empanadas, and the country’s world-renowned malbec wine.
He compared Argentina to his home state of Texas, with its cattle industry and energy reserves, and promised to back Argentina in the upcoming football World Cup. The Times extends a warm welcome to Ambassador Prado and his wife María.
THE SUN CAME OUT... BRIEFLY
The weather was as much on people’s mind this week as the country’s economic situation. The sun made a few short appearances on Friday after a two-week stint from Buenos Aires. Let’s see what Saturday brings.
THIS WEEK IN CORRUPTION
In a week dominated by economic crisis the Odebrecht graft scandal continued to simmer as new evidence against major construction companies is awaited from Brazilian whistleblowers. The Brazilian engineering giant admits to have paid multi-million bribes to Argentine officials to secure major contracts between 2008 and 2014. Last Tuesday judge Sebastián Casanello indicted 19 executives and ex-officials, including two leading businessmen from the sector – Aldo Roggio and former Construction Chamber president Carlos Wagner – and three senior ex-officials – former Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido and two of his secretaries, Roberto Baratta (Energy) and José López (Public Works) – in connection with the AySA waterworks contract. President Mauricio Macri’s cousin Angelo Calcaterra has also been lined up for interrogation in connection with the Sarmiento rail underpass.
SHAKE-UP IN JUDICIARY
Back in March two Federal Appeals Court judges ordered the release of Kirchnerite tycoon Cristóbal López and his partner Fabián De Sousa and removed the accompanying fraud charges from the tax evasión to the tune of eight billion pesos by their Oil Combustibles company – this week both magistrates were moved from the tribunal. Eduardo Farah was transferred to the Oral Business Crime Court at his own request, while Jorge Ballestero resigned on Wednesday after three weeks on health leave. Last month their controversial decision was reviewed by the Federal Cassation Court, which sent both businessmen back to jail.
On Wednesday the Lower House passed two contrasting bills – an opposition initiative to roll back gas, electricity and wáter household bills by six months and legislation to boost capital market and “productive financing” , long awaited by the government in order to attract investment. The productive financing bill is chiefly designed to fund small and medium-sized firms (PyMEs), who otherwise lack access to credit and account for 70 percent of jobs. A 2013 Kirchnerite law empowering the Comisión Nacional de Valores (Argentina’s equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission) to place trustees with veto powers on company boards of directors was also repealed. The pro-market legislation was criticised by both Kirchnerite and leftist deputies as favouring “speculators.” The left also tried to put government approaches to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the House floor but failed.
JAIME GETS TWO MORE YEARS IN JAIL
A federal Appeals Cour t has added two years to the sentence handed down to former Transport secretary Ricardo Jaime for his responsibility in the 2012 Once train tragedy that killed 51 people. However, the court reduced jail time for former Transport officials Pablo Schaivi (5.5 years), Claudio Cirigliano (7 years) and the driver of the train Marcos Córdoba (3 years, 3 months). Jaime and his colleagues were found guilty of manslaughter in 2015. The former Cristina Fernández de Kichner official will now spend eight years behind bars, two more than what the Federal Criminal Court 2 had originally given him. Fifty-one people were killed on February 22, 2012 when a passenger train plummeted into the Once terminal during peak hour in Buenos Aires’ Balvanera neighbourhood.
A t the age of 91 it is final ly t ime for television luncheon hostess Mirtha Legrand to retire, at least according to the organisers of the Martín Fierro entertainment awards. Legrand, who received the top Martín Fierro de Brillantes award last year, is not nominated in any category this year. It is thought that this fall from grace might be due to her March luncheon guest Natasha Jaitt, who referred to various leading media figures as “paedophiles” (with and without AIDS) left, right and centre.