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Nov. 5th-11th: What We Learned This Week

What has happened the last seven days?

Saturday 10 November, 2018
Over 150 flights had to be cancelled, leaving over 30,000 passengers stranded.
Over 150 flights had to be cancelled, leaving over 30,000 passengers stranded. Foto:NA/ HUGO VILLALOBOS

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THIS WEEK IN CORRUPTION...

Ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appealed on Tuesday against her indictment in the corruption trial widely known as the “notebooks case” because of the public works kickbacks meticulously compiled by a ministerial chauffeur during the three Kirchnerite terms between 2003 and 2015. Around 50 exofficials and businessmen have been indicted in the case and several have already turned whistleblowers. Alleged contradictions in the testimony of the latter form the basis of Senator Kirchner’s appeal, according to her lawyer Carlos Beraldi. Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio has already called for the ex-president to be remanded in custody and only her Senate seat keeps her out of jail, Beraldi maintains that the charges are purely political. In other Kirchnerite corruption news, Federal Judge María Servini de Cubria has sent former Cabinet chiefs Jorge Capitanich and Aníbal Fernández, former Buenos Aires province lieutenant-governor Gabriel Mariotto and former AFA (Argentine Football Association ) president Luis Segura to trial for fraud in the “Fútbol para Todos” programme but has acquitted a third Cabinet chief from Kirchnerite times - Juan Manuel Abal Medina. A total of 13 people face the charges in a 253-page dossier on this scheme for free football television broadcasts launched in 2009.

GOT ANY PLANS FOR SATURDAY?

We’re not sure if you’re aware of this, but we think there’s a football match taking place this Saturday...

LABOUR TENSION, UNIONS AND 5,000-PESO BONUSES

The Mauricio Macri administration is pushing a compulsory 5,000-peso bonus in two payments to private-sector workers in order to head off another general strike this year but their employers are less enthusiastic about the idea. Business chambers want the bonus to be considered as an advance on future increases with an exemption for small- and medium-sized companies. The Argentine Industrial Union (UIA) claimed that only 40 percent of their members would be able to pay the bonus, especially with access to credit limited by record high interest rates, but the CAME medium-sized business association thought the bonus might have merits against recession. Meanwhile, the government has already started paying bonuses ranging between 3,000 and 6,000 pesos to state employees. But provincial governments are more reluctant although in some provinces their employees are already collecting a second increase by agreement after inflation outpaced the first. In the light of the various doubts, the CGT umbrella labour grouping is not ruling out a general strike, until the decree is signed into law next Monday, as scheduled.

PASSENGERS HIT BY AIRPORT STRIKES

A surprise strike by unions crippled airports nationwide on Thursday, especially Aeroparque and Ezeiza in this city. Over 150 flights had to be cancelled, leaving over 30,000 passengers stranded. Unions grouping pilots, ground staff, technicians and executive employees all joined the stoppage, alleging pay arrears since an index-linking agreement last May had not been respected. But Aerolíneas Argentinas criticised the indefinite strike, pointing out that the flag carrier was always open to dialogue and that employees had already received pay increases of 40 percent this year. Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich, at Ezeiza to welcome the first Edelweiss flight arriving from Zurich, regretted that the unions “did not understand the changes in Argentina.”

4,927 PROTESTS THIS YEAR SO FAR (AND COUNTING...)

Good news and bad news on the picket front – after surging in September, social protests dropped off by 21 percent last month to a total of 473 nationwide, according to statistics from Diagnostico Politico. The bad news is that there have already been almost 5,000 protests so far this year (4,927 as against 4,179 in the first 10 months of 2017) for a daily average of 16.

INDUSTRIAL SLUMP

Industry slumped 11.5 percent in September and construction 4.2 percent, INDEC statistics bureau reported on Tuesday.

MACRI SAYS HE’S READY TO RUN

President Mauricio this week said (not for the first time since uncertainty derailed the economy last April) that “the worst is over” and for that reason he felt ready to seek re-election next year, insisting that the changes proposed by his administration were “the only way possible” and blaming corruption for widespread poverty. In a 20-minute impromptu interview with a Catamarca radio station, Macri also expressed optimism regarding passage of the 2019 Budget while praising his Radical coalition partners for their support during the crisis.

GARAVANO: NO SUBSIDIES FOR MALDONADO’S FAMILY

Justice Minister Germán Garavano said Wednesday that allegations saying the family of Santiago Maldonado were receiving financial benefits from the state – as a result of the disappearance and death of their 27-year-old relative during a Border Patrol operation in August, 2017 – are not true. “We reject rumours that suggest Sergio Maldonado or the family of Santiago Maldonado receive or received subsidies of 200,000 pesos from the Justice Ministry. The Justice Ministry does not give subsidies,” Garavano said. In April, rumours began circulating that the Maldonado family was receiving subsidies to cover their legal costs. A report that emerged yesterday indicated that the family had been reimbursed to cover items such as travel expenses, lodging, defence expenses and hiring a forensic expert, as they legally should under national law 27.372.

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