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ARGENTINA | 11-05-2019 12:48

May 6th-12th: What We Learned This Week

A quick round-up of some of the most important – and interesting – stories from the last seven days...

SHOOTING SHOCK

Shock this week after Héctor Olivares (Radical-La Rioja) was brazenly shot from a moving car just outside Congress early on Thursday morning while La Rioja public works official Miguel Yadón (the real target of the attack according to the Security Ministry) accompanying him was killed. (See full story on Page 4.)

IMF IN TOWN

Anew mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) headed by the Italian economist Roberto Cardarelli arrived here on Wednesday to monitor whether Argentina qualifies for its fourth tranche of US$5.5 billion. A fortnight ago the IMF cleared the Mauricio Macri to use up to US$9 billion to bolster the currency in preelectoral months in a reversal of previous policy, following considerable volatility last month. While Cardarelli has headed all recent missions to Argentina, the presence of IMF Western Hemisphere Director Alejandro Werner this time is a novelty. This mission is expected to restrict its contacts to Economy Ministry and Central Bank officials, businessmen and economists ahead of sounding out politicians like last time. This latest tranche will bring IMF remittances up to US$44.7 billion, which would be 78 percent of the total package of US$57.1 billion approved last year.

TASERS ARRIVE

Regulations governing the use of taser “stun guns” at airports and railway stations appeared in the Official Gazette last Tuesday. It called for the “immediate implementation of training courses” to instruct the security forces in their use.

EVITA’S 100TH BIRTHDAY The legendary María Eva Duarte de Perón, famous worldwide as simply ‘Evita,’ was remembered last Tuesday on the centenary of her birth, with a ceremony uniting for – at least that day – a Peronism still fragmented as its leaders jockey for position in this electoral year (although the opposition frontrunner – Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – was absent from the main ceremony at Evita’s birthplace in Los Toldos, Buenos Aires province). Ex-president Eduardo Duhalde, 2015 Peronist presidential candidate Daniel Scioli, Justicialist Party chairman José Luis Gioja, trade union leaders (including Hugo Moyano) and various Greater Buenos Aires mayors, Peronist and Kirchnerite alike did attend. Duhalde could not resist the temptation to plug his pet presidential hopeful Roberto Lavagna as “the man of the moment” while Gioja said: “A whole lifetime would not suffice to equal what she [Evita] did.” Scioli said that Evita’s axiom: “Where there’s a need, there’s a right” remained as valid today as ever. Meanwhile Senator Fernández de Kirchner preferred the social networks for her tribute, concluding: “Love always, always conquers hatred and lies.”

CÓRDOBA GOES TO THE POLLS

Córdoba will be holding its provincial elections tomorrow with almost three million citizens eligible to vote at 8,653 polling-precincts. (For full story see Pages 10 & 11.)

RAIDS TARGET MOYANOS

Following the court-ordered raids on teamster union offices and on Independiente football club owned by the Moyano family (which union leaders Hugo and Pablo Moyano denounced as “political persecution), the CGT labour umbrella is now rejecting dialogue with the government over its proposed 10 points, threatening a new strike for late this month or early June. According to the CGT, the government is withholding up to 32 billion pesos from union-run healthcare schemes. Over 150 Border Guards swooped on the teamster union offices on Monday to seek evidence of alleged money-laundering via Independiente, confiscating documents and computers. Service station union leader Carlos Acuña said that the CGT wanted dialogue “but with the next government.”

SCIENTIST WINS BIG AND POINTS THE FINGER

Cancer researcher Dr Marina Simian won half a million pesos on the local version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? and promptly vowed to use her winnings for her underfunded cancer project, she told the show’s host Santiago del Moro. Simian made the most of her 15 minutes of fame to lament the underfunding of science and research in Argentina. The Mauricio Macri administration is only spending a third of his 2015 campaign promises on science and technology or 0.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Many programmes funded by CONICET National Research Council (which include Simian’s, which is around US$15,000 short) have received only 40 percent of their 2018 budget, CONICET authorities complained last December. The researcher’s remarks made plenty of waves on social media and on Friday, via Twitter, she revealed that she had met President Macri to discuss funding.

CRISTINA DRAWS A CROWD

Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner launched her new book Sinceramente at the Book Fair on Thursday evening – although she didn’t confirm her candidacy. (See full story on Page 6.)

INDUSTRY SLUMP

Both manufacturing industry and construction plunged steeply in March, falling 13.4 percent and 12.3 percent respectively by comparison with the same month last year, the INDEC national statistics bureau announced at the start of the week. When measured against last February, the falls were 4.3 percent for industry and 3.5 percent for construction.

PRISON BREAK

Santa Fe was the scene of a cinematic jail break on Wednesday when nine of 13 highrisk convicts being transferred from Rosario broke loose with seven still at large. The prison van was originally presumed to have been ambushed but it later transpired that the convicts had been allowed to escape with 10 Penitentiary Service officers under investigation. The absconding convicts seized four firearms from guards, wounding one of them twice, before making off in two stolen cars.

DOLLAR WATCH

The dollar closed the week yesterday on 45.80 pesos, down from the previous day (46.50) thanks to a strong inflow of export earnings. But the figure was still 36 cents higher than the start of the week, as Donald Trump’s escalation of the USChina trade war worked against peso appreciation in midweek.

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