For the first time relatives of Argentina’s fallen in the 1982 South Atlantic war could honour their loved ones in identified graves (in the case of 90 of the 121 combatants buried there) in a moving ceremony at Darwin Cemetery last Monday. The 36th anniversary of the start of that conflict this coming Monday will be marked by a public holiday, thus further lengthening the long Easter weekend. Plenty to tell about this historic and emotional occasion, see the following pages for more.
A TALE OF TWO MARCHES
Last weekend’s headlines were made primarily by two highprofile marches. The first, on Saturday, marked the 42nd anniversary of the 1976 coup d’état that led to the brutal military dictatorship. Protesters, many of whom were critical of the Mauricio Macri administration, denounced the policy allowing ex-military members convicted of crimes during the country’s dictatorship to be moved to house arrest. Demonstrations were held in squares and parks across the nation to denounce “setbacks in human rights policy” and to “demand freedom for political prisoners,” according to a statement released by organisers. On Sunday, the streets of Argentina were awash with pro-life slogans, as thousands of people protested against a push to decriminalise abortion in the so-called “March for Life.” The protest saw the participation of students of religious schools, clergy, elderly people, as well as everyday citizens. Argentina’s Congress is expected to vote on a bill to decriminalise abortion in the coming months.
Following the still controversial release of Indalo Group tycoon Cristóbal López from jail, other Kirchnerites also remanded in custody prior to their trial and conviction continue to be released – since last weekend the latest have been the defendants in the trial of the 2013 memorandum of understanding with Iran (which covered up Tehran’s role in the 1994 terrorist bomb destruction of the AMIA Jewish community centre, according to the late special AMIA prosecutor Alberto Nisman). Since neither ex-president-now-Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner nor her foreign minister Héctor Timerman (fighting cancer) were jailed, the best-known defendants were former legal and technical secretary and 2015 vice-presidential candidate Carlos Zannini and picket leader Luis D’Elía. Meanwhile, businessman Ignacio Rosner, designated by López as his successor at Indalo but judicially barred in the previous week, said last week that he would begin the process of withdrawing from the group, whose main company Oil Combustibles SA stands charged with multibillion-peso tax evasion.
President Mauricio Macri took an important step toward domination of the Magistrates Council when Diego Molea (picked by university chancellors on Tuesday as the new academic representative) was sworn in on Thursday, replacing Jorge Candis, whose votes often favoured Kirchnerism. Molea heads Lomas de Zamora University. In midweek the Council asked the Supreme Court to explain its recent redefinition of courts trying Kirchnerite corruption cases.
POVERTY FALLS TO 25.7%
The government announced with great fanfare on Wednesday that the number of people falling below the poverty line fell to 25.7 percent of the population in the second half of last year from a peak of 32.2 percent in early 2016. The ranks of the destitute were also trimmed from 6.3 to 4.8 percent.
On the eve of a steep increase in household gas bills (which will rise by up to 40 percent as from tomorrow), Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren caused an uproar on Thursday when he admitted to having most of his money outside the country, adding that he would only repatriate it in the event of “recovering confidence in Argentina.” The rate hike will come into effect from April 1 following a public hearing process that saw gas distributors pushing for a hike of up to 58 percent.
The child prostitution scandal involving Independiente football club deepened last week with the arrests of public relations manager Leonardo Cohen Arazi and club scout Ernesto Fleyta. Two other suspects remain on the run.
PUBLIC HEARING ENDS IN SCUFFLE
A public hearing over the development of El Palomar air base as a commercial airport came to blows on Thursday amid tensions among residents, union representatives, government officials and local political leaders. A fist fight was the sad ending to a public hearing attended by over 400 people, which included presentations by Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich and Morón Mayor Ramiro Tagliaferro. It was during Tagliaferro’s speech that insults, and eventually violence, broke out. As the mayor spoke, members of the public began yelling and insulting him. Soon, El Palomar resident Oscar Álvarez, a former local council member, came to blows with Kirchnerite council member Hernán Sabbatella, as Álvarez yelled at him: “You lot are never coming back (to power).” Sabbatella took to Facebook to allege that a “group of Tagliaferro’s thugs insulted and hit me during the public hearing over Flybondi’s proposed usage of the site.
The father of one of the 44 naval officers who went missing in November, 2017 after the ARA San Juan submarine was lost this week filed a criminal complaint against Defence Minister Oscar Aguad. Luis Alberto Tagliapietra, father of Lieutenant Commander Alejandro Tagliapietra, formally accused Aguad on Monday of “breach of duties as a public servant, abandonment, aggravated concealment and treason.” Aguad, who faced pressure throughout the week, has been invited to speak before Congress on the issue on April 17.