What has caught our eye the last seven days?
ALL SET FOR PASO AND BEYOND
The deadline for registering candidate for this year’s general elections duly expired at midnight last Saturday with some surprises in the lists, often due to various newcomers since political realignments were by no means limited to the main presidential tickets.
ADVERSE US SUPREME COURT RULING IN YPF CASE
On Monday the United States Supreme Court rejected the last Argentine appeal against a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit lodged against YPF oil company in a not unexpected ruling, thus clearing the way for the trial to begin on July 11 under New York judge Loretta Preska, the successor of the late Thomas Griesa. The Argentine government argues that the US$3-billion claim pressed by Burford investment fund is groundless since it is based on a fraudulent sale of shares to the Eskenazi Kirchnerite crony banker family under cover of the YPF nationalisation in 2012, also arguing that this nationalisation falls under the protection of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act as a sovereign decision. In mid-May US Solicitor General Noel Francisco had recommended the rejection of the Argentine appeal. Despite this adverse ruling, YPF issued a 10-year bond on the same day to the tune of US$ half a billion at an annual interest rate of 8.875 percent.
ANOTHER BLACKOUT, THIS TIME AROUND LA PLATA
La Plata’s PRO Mayor Julio Garro has proposed stripping Edelap power utility of its concession, charging underinvestment and a sluggish response to last weekend’s power cuts in Buenos Aires provincial capital and its environs which still left some 20,000 households blacked out throughout the week. The worst-hit areas are northern suburbs such as Tolosa, City Bell and Villa Elisa along the main road up to Buenos Aires City. Edelap has installed 35 generators in these areas, and announced that it will be compensating its clients affected by the power cuts.
MACRI IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN
Following a 24-hour state visit to Indonesia (which he described as a key commercial partner for the future), President Mauricio Macri arrived in Japan on Wednesday night to participate in the G20 summit (see full story on page 4).
COCA SARLI’S “FIRE” GOES OUT
Isabel “Coca” Sarli, a sex symbol half a century ago and more when cinematic boundaries were first starting to be pushed, died on Tuesday a fortnight before her 90th birthday.
CASERIO TO REPLACE PICHETTO
Now that outgoing Río Negro Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto, the Upper House Peronist caucus leader for the last 17 years, has decided to become President Mauricio Macri’s running-mate, his non-Kirchnerite Peronist colleagues voted last Tuesday to replace him with Córdoba’s Carlos Caserio. A lifelong Peronist, Caserio has pledged support for the Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández presidential ticket but, like almost all Córdoba politicians, he is wary of the vice-presidential candidate.
IMF SOUNDS OUT THE OPPOSITION
Opposition presidential candidates Alberto Fernández and Roberto Lavagna on Thursday met separately with International Monetary Fund Western Department Director Alejandro Werner (in town precisely to consult opposition politicians) with both advising him of their intention to renegotiate and reschedule last year’s stand-by agreement with the IMF. Fernández told Werner during their 90-minute meeting that since the agreement was negotiated in September, it had failed in its purposes “to reduce the debt and inflation, restore growth, create jobs and fight poverty.” Lavagna stressed reducing the burden of debt repayments for the years 2021 and 2022. Werner was joined in his talks with the opposition politicians by the resident IMF representative in Argentina, the Jamaican Trevor Alleyne.
DOLLAR WATCH AHORA 12 TO REVIVE CONSUMER MARKET
Last Wednesday the government stepped up its drive to prop up a faltering consumer market via the Ahora 12 hire purchase scheme. Earlier this month they had already cleared the credit card purchase of goods in three, six, 12 or 18 instalments at interest rates of 20 percent or less – now the scheme can run all week, not just between Thursdays and Sundays as in the original version under Kirchnerism, as well as applying to a wider range of products and services. The government is also hoping that the midyear bonus will revive consumer sales.
TRADE SURPLUS CONTINUES INTO MAY
Thanks largely to a much better harvest this year, the trade surplus continued last month, reaching US$ 1.37 billion and topping US$ 4.5 billion for the year so far. Meanwhile imports fell by 28 percent due to the domestic recession with purchases of capital goods abroad down 40 percent. Exports rose 16.5 percent to top US$ six billion as against US$ 5.16 billion in May last year. Oil and energy exports rose even faster by 28.9 percent.
PASO SUSPENSION ITSELF SUSPENDED
At the start of the week Radical deputies proposed suspending the PASO nationwide primaries as a needless expense of over four billion pesos but the idea was immediately opposed by their Peronist colleagues, optimistic of a victory which might well prove the first step to returning to power. The proposal was then opposed by President Mauricio Macri’s running-mate Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto, who said that Macri was not afraid of a contest, and the idea had perished by midweek.
A PRIEST FOR ALL AGES
Tierra del Fuego priest Cristian Vázquez, 39, was sentenced in Río Grande to 11 years in prison last Wednesday for the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old female member of his congregation between 2012 and 2013. At the same time he was said to be having an affair with the girl’s mother but soon turned his attentions to the woman’s daughter. The sordid story came to light when the teen tried to take her life with sleeping-pills. Vázquez now also faces expulsion from the Church.