Tuesday, January 18, 2022

ARGENTINA | 09-11-2019 12:16

Nov 3rd-10th: What We Learned This Week?

What has happened the past week in Argentina?


President-elect Alberto Fernández spent most of last week until Thursday in Mexico where he sought to act as a hub for grouping Latin American centre-left leaders past and present, including his host President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but he also touched base with business interests such as Mexican multi-billionaire Carlos Slim and Globant software company (founded in Argentina). On Wednesday Fernández lunched with Mauricio Claver-Carone, who advises USPresident Donald Trump on Latin America (see Page 5).



Brazil’s representation at next month’s presidential inauguration was a running theme throughout the week. At the start of the week Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who had announced that he would be shunning the inauguration of Alberto Fernández from the moment of the Frente de Todos victory last month, had been delegating the task to his Vice-President, General Hamilton Mourau, but the latter’s vindication of previous military dictatorships made him a persona non grata and a ministerial presence was mooted. But with Brazilian ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s release yesterday, could Lula end up being Brazil’s representative? During the week Bolsonaro tweeted that three Brazilian companies would be leaving Argentina but it was denied and he deleted the tweet.



President-elect Alberto Fernández all but said that the ‘cepo’ currency controls would continue under his presidency when he told a press conference in Mexico that a change of government would not alter reality following the capital flight of tens of billions of dollars. Back home both orthodox and Peronist economists agreed that he had little other choice.



The dollar closed the week at an average exchange rate of 63.26 pesos in banks (63.45 in Banco Nación), nine cents down from the previous Friday. Despite the money market calm, country risk rose beyond 2,400 points (2,416) as against a closing figure of 2,278 points last week.



Julian Cook, one of the founders of the Flybondi low-cost airline, announced that he would be returning to London next month as a result of the change of government, describing Peronism as “a cancer” slowly destroying Argentina over the last several decades. Flybondi issued a statement saying that Cook had ceased to be CEO nearly a year ago, asking him to accompany his departure with his resignation from the board of directors, but the whole episode poses a huge question-mark over the “aviation revolution” pioneered by the Mauricio Macri presidency. (See Page 12 for full story.)



Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is looking into claims that outgoing President Mauricio Macri abused and interfered with the judicial process in Argentina. The charges centre on the use of the Council of Magistrates to pressure judges but also include Macri’s initial attempt to appoint Supreme Court justices Carlos Rosenkrantz and Horacio Rosatti by decree, the successful drive to oust Alejandra Gils Carbó as Attorney General and the attacks against Dolores Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla among other irregularities. The Macri administration has been given 60 days to explain itself before a UN report is issued.



Paediatrician Ricardo Russo, former head of the Immunology Department at Garrahan Children’s Hospital, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for producing and distributing child pornography in the course of his work, as well as being banned from medical practice for life. The sentence, the harshest ever for a crime of this nature, matched the request of prosecutor Daniela Dupuy although Garrahan Hospital as a co-plaintiff had requested 13 years. Russo had been arrested as part of an international paedophile ring originally traced in Brazil in May, 2018.



Alexis Salinas, 22, a reserve team full back for First Division football club Arsenal, lost the sight of his left eye with his right also at risk in La Matanza last Tuesday afternoon when he was shot during an assault. The four friends accompanying him were also wounded, most of them in the head. The player’s family believe the shooting to be a case of mistaken identity within a vendetta between rival gangs.



Tens of thousands of people gathered in the centre of the capital Saturday calling for “a country without institutional or religious violence or crimes of hate,” as the 28th March for Pride which, for the first time, eliminated the traditional LGBTQ emblem.



The newspaper La Nación celebrated its 150th anniversary last Thursday almost two months in advance (it was founded by Bartolomé Mitre on January 4, 1870), perhaps with a view to having outgoing President Mauricio Macri as the guest of honour rather than his successor Alberto Fernández. Macri was in a defiant mood when addressing the event, saying that democracy would continue to be defended from Congress once he leaves office and taking pride in heading a government “which did not steal or abuse power.”



Radio Cultura hosted a reception at the British Embassy residence on Thursday night to announce the incorporation of a “BBC Minute” news flash into their programming – according to Carlos Villalobos, this minute will mushroom into five hours of BBC by March, including English-language instruction. British Ambassador Mark Kent described the BBC as a prime example of “soft power.” The event was also addressed by Radio Cultura director Mario Terzano.

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