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ARGENTINA | 21-12-2019 14:02

Dec 16th-22nd: What We Learned This Week

What has happened the past week in our country?

ALBERTO (SET) TO PASS FIRST LEGISLATIVE TEST

Pr e s i d e n t A l b e r t o Fernández’s economic emergency and social solidarity package (that seems the most reasonable name, given it has around 15 at the moment) was on the verge of passing through Congress yesterday, as the Senate (with a Peronist majority) debated the bill before a vote. That is expected to come later today, after the legislation passed through the lower house Chamber of Deputies without a hitch. Not everyone has welcomed the bill, however – this week it prompted the first opposition protest against the new administration, with around 500 Mauricio Macri-aligned demonstrators taking to the streets around Congress. More details on the bill inside.

 

JOBLESS: 9.7%

Unemployment in Argentina for the third quarter of 2019 was 9.7 percent, a slight drop on the previous quarter. However, the figure remains up from the nine percent registered during the same period last year, according to new data from the INDEC national statistics bureau. In spite of the recession that’s plagued Argentina for 18 months, joblessness showed a slight recuperation from the 10.6 percent the previous quarter., data showed.

 

MALDONADO PROBE REVIEW

New Security Minister Sabina Frederic said this week the new government will review the investigation into the death of Santiago Maldonado, the late artisan and activist whose body was found in the Chubut River in 2017 after a 70-day search. Speaking to Radio Colonia, Frederic said “there was a lot of negligence in the operation,” referring to the Gendarmerie’s (Border Guard) actions as they dealt with roadblocks in the region. Maldonado’s death in 2017 proved highly divisive, prompting furore, mass demonstrations on the streets and accusations the government’s security forces had carried out his “forced disappearance.” The discovery of his body two-and-a-half months later, just 300 metres from where he had gone missing prompted a subsequent investigation, from which a panel of experts concluded he had drowned, with no sign of violence on the corpse. Speaking Wednesday, Frederic said she had told the Gendarmerie the government would “review the disciplinary actions” taken at the time, though she clarified that “it is not for us [the government] to impart justice.”

 

NEW AFI CHIEF

President Alberto Fernández looks set to task Cristina Caamaño with leading the overhaul of the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI). Caamaño, an attorney who heads the Justicia Legítima grouping, seen as Kirchnerite, previously led a wire-tapping and intercepts unit under former attorney general Alejandro Gils Carbó. Other names rumoured to be in the running for the post were former defence minister Nilda Garré, ex-justice minister Alberto Iribarne and businessman José “Pepe” Albistur (the owner of the apartment that Fernández has rented for years in Puerto Madero). In his December 10 inauguration speech, Fernández announced plans to restructure the AFI and reallocate funds from the agency’s unpublicised slush fund to finance his “Plan Against Hunger.” The AFI was formerly known as the Secretary of the Intelligence of the State (SIDE), which earned a shadowy reputation for its espionage and counterintelligence work until it was dissolved in 2015 under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and “reformed.”

 

WANTED MAN IN COLEGIALES

Evo Morales, the former Bolivian president ousted in a coup d’état who has now taken up temporary residency in Colegiales in the capital, held a number of press conferences this week, in which he said he expected his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party to win his troubled country’s next elections. Meanwhile, the interim government is seeing if the United Nations can help order his silence and issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of “sedition, terrorism and terrorist-financing.”

 

HAVANA NEW YEAR

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will spend the New Year and half of January in Cuba, visiting her daughter, who is receiving medical treatment on the island. The newly sworn-in vice-president’s trip was authorised by the courts, where CFK faces multiple trials. It is the eighth trip she has made to Cuba. Florencia has been on the Communist island since February. Meanwhile, President Mauricio Macri has jetted off on his own festive season break, heading with former first lady Juliana Awada to Qatar for the final of the Club World Cup, with a stop reportedly in Madrid. Who will Maci and Awada back? Flamengo, from neighbouring Brazil, or Liverpool?

 

DISTATEFUL CELEBRATIONS

Last Monday, upon turning in his final thesis at the Universidad Siglo 21, Tomás Vidal wanted to celebrate his graduation. He decided he would parade around in a somewhat macabre costume, parodying a victim of femicide. Dressed as a cadaver and wrapped in plastic, with a noose around his neck, Vidal wore a sign that read “¡La culpa no era mía!” (“It wasn’t my fault!”), a phrase from a viral chant popularised by feminist group Las Tesis. To top off his get-up, Vidal wore a green handkerchief worn by activists in favour of legal and free abortion. The incident was taken seriously by the university’s authorities who condemned the attack and said the student would have to repeat the semester and take a class on gender and diversity.

 

EX-FRENTE DE TODOS CANDIDATE MURDERED

A former Frente de Todos politician from Pilar has been found murdered, with all signs identifying her husband as the perpetrator. Laura Sirera, who ran for the Peronist coalition for the position of councillor in the Buenos Aires Province City, is believed to have been killed by her husband, Matías Bernal, on Thursday night, police officials told local news agencies. Bernal later attempted to commit suicide, though medics were able to save his life.

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