Tuesday, July 14, 2020

ARGENTINA | 07-07-2018 08:51

July 1st- 7th: What we learned this week

What has happened the last seven days?


One of the highest-profile trials in recent court history ended last Tuesday with 19-year-old Nahir Galarza being sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering her boyfriend Fernando Pastorizzo late last year in Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos. Nahir, the youngest woman in Argentine history to receive a life sentence, pleaded self-defence against gender violence but the court was unimpressed. The daughter of a policeman, Galarza shot Pastorizzo twice in the back with her father’s regulation firearm. The case and the threeweek trial were given extensive media coverage, sparking a frenzy with TV stations and newspapers pouring over the details of her private life and background. The verdict prompted mixed reactions in Argentina, with some on social media questioning the judiciary’s speed in resolving the case when others involving violence against women take much longer.


A groundbreaking law that would provide economic reparations to the children of femicide victims passed Congress Wednesday. The vote was unanimous, with 203 in favour, 0 against it and no abstentions. Since 2008, an estimated 3,500 children lost their mothers, the majority murdered by the victims partners or ex-boyfriends. Without a mother to support them, and their fathers’ either in prison, fugitive or having committed suicide, many children end up as orphans. The law provides these children with a monthly reparation payment equivalent to the minimum pension payment – currently 8,000 pesos per month.


The first Senate committee sessions on the bill to legalise abortion already approved by the Lower House began last Tuesday. A total of 60 experts on either side of the issue are due to testify at the hearings (as against over 700 appearing before the Lower House). Meanwhile Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, who heads the Senate, stepped up her opposition to abortion, sparking controversy by saying that it should not be permitted even in cases of rape.


A government bill to urbanise villas nationwide received unanimous Lower House approval from the 194 deputies present on Wednesday. The bill, drafted by deputies Nicolás Massot, Mario Negri and Elisa Carrió (respectively representing PRO, the Radicals and the Civic Coalition, the three main parties backing President Mauricio Macri) proposes expropriating the land of 4,228 shantytowns and giving property deeds to their current residents along with a full range of basic public services. As things now stand, 99 percent of shantytown inhabitants (estimated at approximately 3.5 million people) lack sewage, 94 percent running water and 70 percent electricity. Access to these services is to be co-ordinated with the corresponding utilities by the Social Development Ministry. Residents will have to pay for their property deeds yet picket movements also helped to draft the bill. Evictions will be suspended for four years.


A law making everybody aged over 18 a potential organ donor unless explicitly expressed otherwise was passed by the Lower House on Wednesday with 202 of the 257 deputies voting in favour (54 were absent). The emblematic case of Justina Lo Cane (who died last November at the age of 12 after waiting years for a heart transplant) was considered a key factor in hastening passage of this legislation. Until now the donation of organs has been restricted to those expressly declaring their willingness. The bill also favours the collection of data facilitating transplants.


This week’s labour unrest featured a major protest by taxi-drivers against Uber on Thursday, snarling downtown traffic especially on 9 de Julio Avenue, and last week’s dismissal of 354 employees from Télam state news agency.


No stranger to controversy, the maverick government deputy Elisa Carrió gave a television interview in which ludicrously she said that the upper and middle classes should tip more generously in order to counter harder economic times. She also said that President Mauricio Macri told her that he had gambled on the bill to legalise abortion not being approved by Congress when allowing the legislation to be submitted, an assertion denied by Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña. She called the decision to present the bill a mistake although she held her Lower House colleagues backing the initiative responsible rather than Macri.


The Kirchner family lost the last shred of control over its Patagonian hotel businesses last Thursday when Federal Judge Julián Ercolini ordered the firm Idea SA (running the Alto Calafate, Las Dunas and La Aldea de El Chaltén hotels) to be placed under a six-month court trusteeship. The move (at the request of prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita) was grounded on the detection of various irregularities, including the firm’s two-million-peso debt with Hotesur SA (owned until very recently by the Kirchner family). Idea SA is headed by the Kirchnerite businessman Osvaldo Sanfelice, an extremely close confidant of the family, and succeeded the Lázaro Báez company Valle Mitre in running the hotels in return for the payment of a rental of 27 million pesos to expresident Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

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