Thursday, June 4, 2020

ARGENTINA | 14-04-2018 08:54

April 9th-15th: What we learned this week

From Esmeralda Mitre's words, to Debora Perez Volpin final forensic report. From Rajoy's visit to the uncontrollable inflation.


The fragmentation of the Peronist opposition suffered a new turn of the screw last week when Federal Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría named trade unionist Luis Barrionuevo as Justicialist Party (PJ) trustee, prompting the stout resistance of PJ chairman José Luis Gioja and much of Peronism (including Kirchnerism). Most pundits seemed at a loss to explain Servini de Cubría’s choice of trustee since Barrionuevo is a controversial figure, notorious for such provocative statements as “nobody makes money working in Argentina” as well as for burning ballot-boxes when finding himself on the losing side of the 2003 Catamarca gubernatorial elections. On Thursday former Jujuy governor Eduardo Fellner, a predecessor of Gioja in the PJ chair, was arrested for the alleged misallocation of 1.2 billion pesos to the housing schemes of jailed Túpac Amaru social leader Milagro Sala.


Actress Esmeralda Mitre sparked outrage on Thursday after an outspoken interview with Infobae. Quizzed about the number of people killed under the country’s last military dictatorship, Mitre, who has recently separated from former BA City culture minister Darío Lopérfido, echoed the previously stated views of her husband, suggesting that the number of 30,000 was incorrect – by comparing it to the number killed in the Holocaust. “It’s like the Holocaust,” she said, “they said there were millions but they weren’t so many.” On the same day, Israel commemorated Holocaust Holocaust Memorial Day.


Argentina’s historic abortion debate began in Congress on Tuesday with the first 32 of over 600 speakers due to present arguments on both sides of the fence over the next two months. The first day featured both hardliners and more moderate voices on both sides – the former included journalist Luis Novaresio, who said that legislators were “obliged” to vote for abortion with no other opinion acceptable, and Profamilia lobbyist Oscar Botta, who claimed that interrupting pregnancy revived the forced disappearance of persons. The designated speakers were not the only people stating their position – outside Congress there were pro-choice and pro-life marches drawn mostly (but not exclusively) from the left and right of the political spectrum respectively. The Catholic Church accompanied the latter march with a “rosary for life” while on the eve of the debate Pope Francis stated from the Vatican that the answer was fighting poverty, not removing the unborn.


Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy paid a state visit to Argentina last week, staying from Monday night to Wednesday afternoon. He met with President Mauricio Macri (who had visited Madrid only two months previously) on Tuesday, describing Spain as a loyal partner, backing Argentina’s bid to join the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation) and echoing Macri’s criticism of the Venezuelan regime. Meanwhile, a 70-strong trade delegation explored various business opportunities, including public-private partnerships (PPPs). After visiting Congress on Wednesday, Rajoy closed out his visit by going to Parque de la Memoria and paying tribute to the victims of state terrorism in Argentina – but he had no response to offer when asked if he would make a similar gesture on behalf of the victims of the Francisco Franco regime in Spain, remaining silent.


Inflation continues to cause problems for the government. INDEC reported on Thursday that consumer prices in March rose 2.3 percent, following on from 2.4 percent in February and 1.8 percent in January. The governement’s annual target for the year of 15 percent is already looking unreachable, although Treasury Ministry Nicolás Dujovne argued yesterday that the rate will slow in the months after May.


The government on Tuesday announced a bill through which it would be expropriating 4,228 shantytowns nationwide and handing out property deeds to their 3.5 million residents. Opposition politicians and social organisations praised the idea in principle as a superior alternative to slum clearance but expressed doubts as to its financing, implementation and other points of detail.


Midweek traffic downtown was reduced to total chaos by taxi-drivers protesting against Uber blocking the multilane 9 de Julio thoroughfare. Miners protesting the downsizing of Rìo Turbio coal-mine in Santa Cruz also contributed to the traffic jams among other discontented groups.


The final forensic report on the death of City legislator and journalist Débora Pérez Volpin (while undergoing an endoscopy two months ago) was released on Wedenesday but her family and lawyers of the Sanatorio de la Trinidad hospital were divided over exactly where the complex contents of the 133-page document pinpointed the blame.


Eight BA province police officers have been fired after a tall-tale involving theft, marijuana… and mice. The dismissals came off the back of a shocking discovery – the disappearance of half a ton of marijuana from a police impound lock-up in Pilar. In total, 6,000kg was registered as being impounded, but only 5,460kg was found. Called before a judge to explain where the missing weed was, four of those questioned – including Pilar’s ex-police commissioner Javier Specia – claimed that mice had eaten it. Experts, however, doubted that story, saying the mice would not have mistaken the drug for food and more important, they would’ve died (albeit perhaps happily) if they’d eaten such an amount. In a final, damning piece of evidence, no corpses were found. Case closed – and no stoned mice.

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