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ARGENTINA | 23-06-2018 09:06

June 18-24: What we learned this week

What has happened in the last seven days?

WORLD CUP LOOKS TO BE ALL BUT OVER

There was only one story that caught the attention in the closing days of the week: Argentina’s humbling and humiliating 3-0 defeat to Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Russia. Second-half goals from Croatia’s Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic sealed a deserved victory for the Europeans as a poor Argentina side were left on the brink of a humiliating first round exit. In the immediate post-game press conference, coach Jorge Sampaoli took the blame, saying his decisions were responsible for the defeat, though for many, the lack of fight from many of the players was worrying indeed. Much of the blame was pointed too at goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who made a dreadful mistake for the first goal, a clanger that will likely go down in World Cup history. With one match still to play in the group stage, it is likely the Albiceleste are only playing for pride – will the team be able to lift the nation’s heads a little by defeating Nigeria, or will this go down as one of Argentina’s worst World Cup campaigns in memory?

P(RO) FOR POSITIVITY

The PRO Party’s national council met in Buenos Aires Monday to rally members and officials around a message of “optimism” ahead of the 2019 election campaign. The summit was focussed on “transmitting optimism amid the economic turbulence” the country is currently experiencing. Other messages repeated by top PRO officials were that members should “go out to participate in political debates” and to “fight” the opposition for airtime, sources told Télam. “It’s always best to tell the truth,” Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña said, urging members to continue working toward “representing an identity of change.””Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal said “today more than ever governance can be summarised in two words: being and doing.”

ECONOMIC BACKING AS EMERGING MARKETS OK AND IMF DEAL APPROVED

In After a string of negative economic headlines for the government, it was blessed by two positive headlines this week which may go a long way toward improving the nation’s immediate outlook. First off, on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave its anticipated approval of the US$50-billion stand-by deal it had agreed with the government, releasing an immediate US$15 billion in funds. Later in the day, MSCI promoted Argentina, along with Saudi Arabia, into its ‘Emerging Markets’ index, a move which could pave the way the greater investment in the nation. The so-called ‘frontier market’ status is also symbolic, indicating the backing the international community has for Argentina, the government said.

LIFE SENTENCE FOR BRUTAL TRANSVESTICIDE

Justice was served on Monday when a 25-year-old man was handed life imprisonment for the murder of transgender activist Diana Sacayán in October, 2015. Sacayán, a well-known LGBT rights campaigner, was stabbed 13 times after being gagged and bound in a brutal attack. On Monday, her killer, Gabriel David Marino – who has denied the charges – was found guilty of “aggravated homicide due to gender violence and hatred of gender identity.” In a historic first, the judges agreed that the crime was a “transvesticide” based on “hatred and prejudice,” as the prosecutors had argued.

TRAGEDY IN FORMOSA

An Argentine senator’s wife and son were found dead in northern Formosa province on Monday morning in a horrific tragedy. Senator Luis Naidenoff’s wife Cynthia Sonaridio and their 16-year-old son Joaquín are believed to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their home near Plaza Temática in the capital of Formosa. The couple’s 23-year-old daughter is thought to be in Buenos Aires City. A source from the UCR Radical Party senator’s office confirmed the deaths, while a local councillor Miguel Montoya told Télam that “they’re dead, it’s a tragedy.” Senators, lawmakers and government officials expressed their condolences, with many attending the funeral a day later.

PANAMA PAPERS LEAK

Members of the Macri and Messi families found themselves facing negative headlines this week, as new revelations from the Panama Paper leaks shone the spotlight once again on the offshore activities of the rich and famous. This time, President Mauricio Macri’s brothers found themselves under question.

MACRI GIVES FLAG DAY A MISS

Despite having some good news to announce (return to emerging market status and International Monetary Fund clearance for its first tranche), President Mauricio Macri chose to shun the traditional Flag Day celebrations in Rosario (where the light-blue-andwhite colours were first raised over 200 years ago). The reasons given for his absence were (officially) the fear of incidents being provoked by up to 1,500 leftist and Kirchnerite opposition activists and (unofficially) a tense relationship with Santa Fe Socialist Governor Miguel Lifschitz. Yet the latter argued that the safety of the event was fully assured by the presence of both federal and provincial security forces. Lifschitz in turn was contradicted by Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio, who said that Macri’s absence was agreed in advance with the governor. For her part Rosario Socialist Mayor Mónica Fein deplored that Macri preferred to stigmatise rather than highlight her city.

MAXIMA PAYS TRIBUTE TO LATE "LITTLE SISTER"

Dutch Queen Máxima this week paid an emotional tribute to her beloved late younger sister, Inés Zorreguieta , who was found dead earlier this month in Buenos Aires in a suspected suicide. In a rare public and personal speech – her first public appearance since the death – the queen thanked all those who sent letters. “My little, darling, talented sister Inés was sick,” she said. “She couldn’t find joy in anything and she couldn’t get better. Our only comfort is that she is finally at peace.”

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