The IMF deal, CGT ponders strike action, friendly in Jerusalem cancelled, and more.
IMF DEAL SEALED
President Mauricio Macri all but announced the conclusion of a standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday when he told journalists that the deal was a “most important starting-point” for Argentina, while toasting them to mark Journalists’ Day. He added that the agreement would “boost development and growth and create jobs – that’s what it’s for.” The day seemed to be ending without Macri or Treasury Minister Nicolás Dujovne (who said: “We are very close”) or anybody else giving any further details of the agreement, which the IMF has yet to run past its board of directors. But on Thursday evening a tardy press conference in the Kirchner Cultural Centre headed by Dujovne and Central Bank Governor Federico Sturzenegger was called, finally confirming the details of the 36-month US$50-billion standby agreement. Macri flew yesterday to join the G-7 summit in Québec, Canada, where he is due to meet up with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. See next page for more.
CGT: WILL THEY? WON’T THEY?
At the start of the week a general strike on June 14 (the opening day of the World Cup in Russia) seemed a fact of life but then uncertainty set in, especially on Thursday amid frantic talks between CGT leaders and government officials while a press conference to formalise the strike date was called off. The CGT set various conditions for calling off the strike such as tax exemption for the midyear bonus, the withdrawal of the government’s labour reform and upping the current official wage increase ceiling of 15 percent by five to six percent with re-opened collective bargaining and the government seemed to consider at least some of these demands negotiable, especially the higher ceiling. But teamster Hugo Moyano conditions next Thursday’s strike on the demands of his own union rather than the CGT’s – basically a 27-percent wage increase.
AFA CANCELS ISRAEL MATCH IN JERUSALEM
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) found itself the target of Israeli wrath this week after cancelling the sold-out friendly scheduled for today in Jerusalem, which was to be Argentina’s last fixture before the World Cup starting this Thursday. The match, part of the celebrations for the recent 70th anniversary of the Israeli state, had been the subject of repeated protests by pro-Palestinian groups, especially because of the controversial choice of Jerusalem as venue over Haifa as originally scheduled. The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, had previously urged the cancellation of the match and had called on Arab fans to burn shirts and posters of Lionel Messi if he played in the match. AFA President Claudio ‘Chiqui’ Tapia interpreted these pressures as “threats” against Messi in order to justify the Tuesday cancellation. But he offered no apology to the Israeli government, saying: “We apologise to all the Argentines who live in the Israeli community and who bought tickets,” and adding: “It is nothing against the Israeli community,” He called the decision “a contribution to world peace.”
MAXIMA’S YOUNGEST SISTER FOUND DEAD
Inés Zorreguieta, 32, a younger sister of Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, was found dead in her Caballito flat on Wednesday night with every suspicion of suicide. City magistrate Cinthia Oberlander is in charge of the case. Zorreguieta, who suffered from depression, had reportedly strangled herself with her own belt. The Dutch media responded to the sudden death of their king’s sister-in-law with headlines featuring words like “shock” and “grief.” Queen Máxima announced that she would be travelling immediately with her family to her native land. The final report is expected within a week but the results from the full range of toxicological and pathological tests could take up to three months.
COURT TO TAKE CONTROL OF GRUPO INDALO
A federal commercial court is set to take control of jailed businessman Cristóbal López’s media empire Grupo Indalo, following the formal bankruptcy last month of the group’s majority shareholder, Oil Combustibles, for tax evasion to the tune of US$500 million in the form of unpaid fuel taxation. The court will now take charge of Indalo in order to audit its assets for future sale. Indalo owns and operates the high-rating news channel C5N; radio stations 10 and FM Pop; newspaper Ámbito Financiero; and the websites ámbito.com, minuto1.com and diarioregistrado.com. Across all these media platforms, the editorial line is considered favourable to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Meanwhile, former Indalo owners López and Fabian de Sousa remain in jail.
PEÑA IN LONDON
President Mauricio Macri’s influential Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña made a trip to London this week during which he met Prime Minister Theresa May, government ministers, businesses and members of the financial press and gave a speech at Chatham House. On Monday, he made he paid tribute to fallen British soldiers from the South Atlantic War this morning, laying a wreath at a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
FOURTH NI UNA MENOS MARCH
The fourth Ni Una Menos march to end violence against women took place across the country on Monday. The main protest march began in Plaza de Mayo at 6pm, drawing thousands of people to the footsteps of Congress to form a sea of green handkerchiefs. Activists read a declaration before Nora Cortiñas, the Mother of Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line, delivered closing remarks. Argentina’s womens rights movement has made significant ground in 2018 but women in the country continue suffering abuse and murder at shocking rates. Since 2015, 871 women have been murdered in Argentina, the MuMaLá womens rights organisation reported, 10 percent of whom had court protection measures in place to protect them. Nearly 90 percent of all women murdered in the period were victims of a man from within their inner circle or acquaintances, MuMaLá reported, while only four percent of the murders were committed by unknown men. The march comes ahead of a historic vote in the Lower House to decriminalise elective abortion.