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ARGENTINA | 06-07-2019 08:15

July 1st-7th:What We Learned This Week

What caught our eye the last seven days?

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

Cold temperatures were the main topic of conversation for most this week, as a “polar wave” hit the capital and beyond, with temperatures dropping in some parts of the country to minus five degrees. As ever, there was a lot of attention on Buenos Aires, where River Plate won plaudits for opening up their facilities to those living on the streets. More organisations and football clubs followed suit in the next few days, with a “#FríoCero” campaign gathering pace. At press time, at least five people were said to have perished in the freezing conditions. There are 1,146 homeless people in the Buenos Aires City, a five percent increase from last year, according to data from the Buenos Aires City Government, though NGOs say the real figure is at least four times higher than that.

 

TUCUMÁN BUS CRASH KILLS 15

Fifteen pensioners died in Tucumán province on Monday when the bus they were travelling on rolled off the side of the road. Another 40 passengers were injured. The tragic accident happened in heavy fog in the province on a road with poor signage and blurred road safety demarcations on the bitumen. Local prosecutor Edgardo Sánchez said his main hypothesis was that the driver of the vehicle had performed an “unfortunate manoeuvre” that cost the lives of many of the passengers on board. He requested the court detain the driver, Cristian Salinas, and his assistant, Gustavo Montoro, under a warrant to ensure “they remain in the province.” Both men stand accused of manslaughter and also suffered injuries in the crash.

 

IMF READIES NEXT PART OF LOAN

Representatives from the International Monetary Fund mission have given their approval to the next US$5.4 -billion disbursement of its US$56 billion bail-out for Argentina. With IMF chief Christine Lagarde now heading off to lead the European Central Bank, it was acting MD David Lipton who announced Friday that President Mauricio Macri’s administration had completed all fiscal, monetary and “social expenditure targets under the IMF-backed programme in the context of” its latest financial review. The Fund’s board must still grant final approval at a July 12 meeting. 2019

 

INFLATION TO REACH 40%?

Economists surveyed by the Central Bank predicted this week that inflation in 2019 would come in at around 40 percent, with the peso expected to end the year at 50.2 to the greenback. Ouch.

 

GOVERNMENT BLAMES FIRM FOR BLACK-OUT

The government has pointed the finger at the Transener energy management firm, saying improper reprogramming of the electricity system was responsible for last month’s dramatic power outage on June 16. Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui told a congressional committee on Wednesday that the Transener company that operates the lines failed to account for and reprogramme an emergency system after replacing a high-voltage tower. So when a short circuit hit the grid, the suddenly imbalanced system didn’t adjust to it as planned and the grid collapsed.

 

FAKE BULLRICH VIDEO

A faked viral video of Security Minister Patrici Bullrich made waves this week after it was found to be adulterated, as a slew of memes swamped the Internet. The security minister, a common target of digital pranksters, had published a version of the video on her Twitter account on Wednesday detailing the arrests of 12 criminals, yet initial mockery over what appeared to be a ‘bad hair day’ gave way to a manipulation of the video that sought to show Bullrich impaired, as if she was inebriated. While it was initially called a “deep fake” – a reference to a technique based on artificial intelligence that allows for the creation of extremely real fake videos of people talking – it actually featured an effect that slowed down the velocity of the video, lowering Bullrich’s pitch and speed, portraying her as if under the influence. The same strategy had been used in late May to ridicule Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, causing a firestorm after social media giant Facebook rejected calls to take down the video. Bullrich’s team quickly released a report alleging the video had been adulterated by Liliana Morato, a resident of Paraná city who worked in the local municipality. Morato has denied involvement.

 

A SOLAR ECLIPSE MAKES IT DARK... 

A rare total solar eclipse plunged a vast swathe of Latin America into darkness Tuesday, briefly turning day into night and enthralling huge crowds in much of Chile and Argentina. Both nations were situated under the narrow, 6,000-mile long band of Earth that experienced the eclipse. In Cuyo, people massed to look into the sky in the wine-producing region, which had the country’s longest exposure to the eclipse. However little could be seen in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, where overcast weather blocked the view. D’oh!

 

FLOATING BOOKSTORE IRE

A boat belonging to an evangelical ministry docked in Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero is causing a stir among local bookstores, which allege the ship’s business undercuts the local book market while pushing “religious propaganda.” The MV Logos Hope, owned and operated by the GBA Ships, docked in Puerto Madero on June 27. It will remain in theres until July 21. “The world’s largest floating bookstore” has “visited 480 different ports in 151 countries and territories and welcomed over 46 million visitors onboard,” according to its website. But a local book sellers organisation said the organisation behind the boat is pushing false claims and undermining the spirit and commerce of the local book market. Head of the El Libro foundation Guido Indij told Radio Cooperativa that the ships presence in Buenos Aires had “prompted some distaste,” calling it a “propagandistic venture.”

 

NO JOY AT THE COPA

Argentina’s Copa América dream was left in tatters on Tuesday, after the Albiceleste slumped to a 2-0 defeat to hosts Brazil. Weirdly, the performance was quite good. More on Pages 14 & 15.

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