What has happened the last seven days?
GRAFT SCANDAL: RAIDS ON CFK’S HOMES
Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner dominated an abbreviated news week with a large demonstration on Tuesday night calling for her to be stripped of her parliamentary privileges, unanimous Senate approval for a courtordered raid on her properties the next day and execution of the search warrant on three locations Thursday and Friday. The Tuesday night march outside Congress and elsewhere – organised by the social networks and by some Cambiemos (Let’s Change) ruling coalition backbenchers – was one step ahead of Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio, who has thus far summoned the ex-president as a material witness, not a defendant in the cases of public works graft exposed at the start of this month. Two of the three Senate votes on Wednesday were unanimous with the only split decision a 47-20 rejection of certain conditions Fernández de Kirchner sought to impose on the search herself, which she did not resist as such. Wednesday’s session also included an impassioned self-defence and moments of tension with Federal Peronist caucus leader Miguel Angel Pichetto. The ex-president’s three prívate residences in Recoleta and Santa Cruz were duly searched for several hours on Thursday, continuing into Friday but, as widely expected, no bags of money or significant evidence seem to have been found.
Río Santiago shipyard workers protesting in defence of their jobs were met with tear gas and rubber bullets by Buenos Aires provincial police when marching on Government House in La Plata on Tuesday, resulting in 15 injuries. The shipyard has fallen idle as previous shipbuilding contracts terminate without any new ones to follow.
While last week’s news headlines were dominated by the resolution of the search warrant against Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, there were plenty of other developments in the investigation of chauffeur Oscar Centeno’s copybooks exposing Kirchnerite corruption. They even included an international dimension with whistle-blower Juan Carlos de Goycoechea naming five executives of Spain’s Isolux as paying bribes while Italy is looking into the Techint multinational engineering giant. Those appearing before Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio this week included former Public Works secretary José López (who gained notoriety by chucking multi-million bags of money over a convent wall in mid-2016 ,and was accepted by the judge as a whistleblower on Fridy), alleged middleman Jorge “Corcho” Rodríguez and financier Ernesto Clarens also as a potential whistle-blower ,while Juan Chediack followed in the footsteps of Aldo Roggio by stepping down from the presidency of the construction company bearing his surname. Two more businessmen – Sergio Taselli and Néstor Otero – were arrested on Tuesday.
IMF v CGT
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) monitoring team headed by Roberto Cardarelli met with CGT labour umbrella leaders on Tuesday, recognising that this year’s inflation target of 32 percent will not be met while expressing confidence that next year’s figure would be lower. The CGT leaders then asked if this failure would require a waiver, to which Cardarelli replied: “Always a possibility.” The labour bosses expressed their main concern as dwindling purchasing-power, to which the three IMF technicians could not offer much macro-economic assurance, placing next year’s growth no higher than 1.5 percent even with a good harvest.
STRIKES AT SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES
While the nationwide strike of university lecturers in rejection of a pay increase offer of 15 percent went into its third week, Buenos Aires province teachers returned to the warpath. After turning down a 19 percent increase offered by Governor María Eugenia Vidal’s administration, they will be shunning classes for 72 hours from August 28 to 30, they announced last Thursday.
3,000 SAY CHAU TO CHURCH
Thousands of Argentine Catholics on Friday renounced their membership of the Catholic Chuch to protest its opposition to the bill that would have legalised abortion. A list of around 3,000 signatures from Catholics angered at the Church’s role was delivered to Church officials.
Ominous signs from INDEC. The national statistics bureau announced this week that economic activity fell 6.7 percent in June compared to the same month last year, the third consecutive month of decline.
RIP ‘CHICHA’ MARIANI
The human rights movement lost one of its veteran member son Tuesday when María Isabel “Chicha” Chorobik de Mariani, a founding member of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, died at the age of 94. Heartbreakingly, she was unable to trace her granddaughter Clara (abducted by the military dictatorship 42 years ago as a three-month infant) before her death. The many tributes to her tenacious struggle included the foremost members of Argentina’s human rights movement and beyond. Bolivian President Evo Morales also paid tribute to Mariana – though his Argentine colleague Mauricio Macri, the nation’s highest representative, did not.
GAS EXPORTS TO CHILE RESUME
At a bilateral summit in Chile’s capital of Santiago on Wednesday, it was confirmed that next month Argentina will again be exporting gas across the Andes for the first time since 2007, thanks to the increased output of Vaca Muerta shale deposits. The Argentine delegation, headed by Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña and hosted by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, included most ministers.
The Supreme Court Tuesday knocked back a lawsuit lodged by the taxi-drivers union to uphold the legality of Uber, the app-based prívate ride-sharing service. This decision upheld last November’s Criminal Appeals Court ruling that the Uber is not a criminal or unfair competition.