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ARGENTINA | 22-06-2019 10:52

June 16th-23rd: What We Learned This Week

What caught our eye the past seven days?

CANDIDACIES GO DOWN TO THE WIRE

The deadline for registering all candidacies for August’s PASO primaries and October’s general elections expires at midnight tonight. After weeks of indecision, Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa (who won over 21 percent of the vote in the 2015 presidential elections) has agreed to top the Frente de Todos list of Lower House candidates, thus backing down from his original aim to contest the PASO primaries with the Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández presidential ticket. Another almost last- minute candidacy was San Lorenzo football club President Matías Lammens as Frente de Todos mayoral candidate in this City.

FATHER’S DAY STARTS WITH TOTAL BLACKOUT

A power failure hit all mainland Argentina for over six hours on Sunday until early afternoon with Uruguay and parts of Brazil also affected. (See page 7 for full story).

UNEMPLOYMENT RETURNS TO DOUBLE DIGITS

Unemployment has hit double digits for the first time since 2006 when the recovery from the 2001-2 economic meltdown was completed, reaching 10.1 percent, as announced by the INDEC statistics bureau last Wednesday. The jobless figure of 1.34 million in the country’s main urban centres projects to almost two million nationwide while a further 11.8 percent are underemployed. INDEC also reported negative growth of -5.8 percent for the first quarter of this year when compared to the first three months of 2018. Trade unions called for a ban on dismissals.

SANTA FE SNAPS INCUMBENT WINNING STREAK

The first defeat of an incumbent administration in this year’s voting came in a major province last Sunday when Santa Fe’s Socialists were defeated by Peronist Senator Omar Perotti, thus ending 12 years in power (they had already lost Rosario City Hall after three decades at PASO primary level). This was not the only upset – Tierra del Fuego Peronist Governor Rosana Bertone lost to Kirchnerite Radical Río Grande Mayor Gustavo Melella, who ended up with 50.9 percent of the vote after a runoff had seemed inevitable most of the night. Melella now stands to become Argentina’s first openly gay governor. But two other Peronist governors were re-elected – Formosa’s Gildo Insfrán clinched a third term with over 70 percent of the vote while in San Luis Alberto Rodríguez Saá beat back the challenges of his predecessor (Claudio Poggi, now with Cambiemos) and brother (Senator Adolfo) to win by seven points.

A NEW MALDONADO?

Silvia Maldonado, a 17-year-old mother of two, died on Tuesday after being shot in the forehead the previous day by Santiago del Estero provincial police raiding her low-income Gas del Estado neighbourhood for suspected burglars. The raid was resisted by local residents and the violence escalated into first rubber and then real bullets. The corporal firing the fatal shot and seven other policemen were arrested. Gas del Estado residents not only blamed the police for Maldonado’s death but also the neighbouring Jorge Newbery middle-class suburb for allegedly requesting the police raid.

DOLLAR WATCH

The dollar closed the week at 44.07 pesos yesterday, down 18 cents from Thursday and almost a peso below the previous week’s close of 44.95. Country risk also dipped but not so sharply, from 851 to 822 points.

TWO WAYS OF MARKING FLAG DAY

With Flag Day just two days before today’s deadline to register candidacies, President Mauricio Macri could not resist the temptation to use the occasion for electoral campaigning, delivering a fiercely political speech against “the mafias destroying growth” with the teamsters led by the Moyano family at their head. Meanwhile his predecessor Frente de Todos vice-presidential candidate Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had similar ideas about politicising Flag Day via a presentation of her book Sinceramente in Rosario, delivering a rambling speech in which she both criticised Macri and admitted to a love affair with flag creator Manuel Belgrano if they had not been separated by his death 199 years ago last Thursday.

DADY BRIEVA WANTS MEDIA ON TRIAL

Comedian Dady Brieva created a storm of controversy early in the week when he urged the creation of “a Conadep of journalism” to try the media for allegedly inventing the Kirchnerite corruption now on trial, should the Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández ticket win. Graciela Fernández de Meijide, a former member of Conadep (the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons from 1983 to 1985) herself, said that placing charges of corruption at the same criminal level as wiping out thousands of people was absurd. Frente de Todos presidential candidate Alberto Fernández distanced himself from the comedian while Frente de Todos supporter Felipe Solá said that Brieva (and also Mempo Giardinelli with his calls for the elimination of the judiciary) was only hurting their cause.

PIGNANELLI TRIUMPHS POSTHUMOUSLY

Aldo Pignanelli, a Central Bank governor for six months in 2002, died last weekend of prostate cancer at the age of 69. His list yesterday posthumously won the elections of the Council of Professional Economists. A lifelong Peronist born in Entre Ríos, Pignanelli had been working with Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front since 2013. Most of the tributes to him came from opposition leaders although President Mauricio Macri’s new running-mate Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto also posted his regrets.

A CHRONICLER OF PERONISM DIES

The journalist and writer Hugo Gambini died last Thursday at the age of 84. He was an especially acute historian of Peronism. Gambini attributed this to Peronism wanting to tell its own story, which was not the true one, so that he felt it to be his mission to fill that gap.

AIR CONTROLLERS’ STRIKE

Ezeiza and Aeroparque airports, which resisted last Sunday’s blackout thanks to having its own generators, were crippled yesterday and Thursday by an air controllers’ strike, which will continue until next Saturday according to their ATEPSA union.

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