The 2019 Budget cleared the Senate in the small hours of Thursday by a surprisingly comfortable 45-24 margin but with amendments so it returns to the Lower House for final passage next week. Beyond the Kirchnerite senators, opposition only came from seven of Argentina’s 19 opposition-ruled provinces. (See story on Page 6)
Although not quite on the scale of last week, union strife affected Aeroparque downtown airport yesterday with 20 flights rescheduled and 1,200 passengers temporarily grounded. A union assembly of cabin staff caused the delays. Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich this week “categorically” denied that the government will move to privatise Aerolíneas Argentinas.
The controversial Salta deputy Alberto Olmedo has been charged with “culpable homicide” after being involved in a fatal accident in Villa Lugano on Monday. According to City Hall’s Justice Ministry, Olmedo’s Toyota collided with a Chevrolet, whose driver died hours later in hospital. Both his passengers were injured. All three occupants of the Chevrolet were Bolivian. Olmedo denied either being drunk or exceeding the speed limit, estimating his speed at 98 kilometres an hour, but claimed that there was alcohol in the other car which would account for the accident. The rightist deputy (famous for his yellow jacket) also argued in his favour that he had immediately placed himself at the disposal of the authorities.
With the G20 Leaders Summit in Buenos Aires less than a fortnight away, security preparations were intensified in the wake of two bomb attacks at the house of Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio and at the Recoleta tomb of assassinated police chief Ramón Falcón (on the 109th anniversary of his death from an anarchist bomb). A terrorist alert from London this week has also added to the tensions. The Security Ministry has announced a total deployment of 13,400 officers to protect the mega-event – 4,000 from the Armed Forces and the rest from the various police forces (including the Border and Coast Guards). The only casualty from the attacks was the bomb assailant in Recoleta Cemetery.
TRIACA BIDS FAREWELL
While formally retaining his post until next month, Labour Secretary Jorge Triaca (demoted from minister 10 weeks ago) effectively ended almost three years as the Mauricio Macri administration’s main liaison with trade unions in midweek when he announced that he would be taking no further part in ministerial work. Industrial relations thus become exclusively the province of Production Minister Dante Sica. Triaca said that he would be actively campaigning for Macri’s re-election next year.
October’s inflation was 5.4 percent to place the total figure for the first 10 months of the year on the brink of 40 percent (39.5 percent, to be exact), the INDEC national statistics bureau announced on Thursday. The main culprits were public utilities including fuel prices (8.8 percent), transport (7.6 percent) and food and beverages (5.9 percent). Inflation is thus poised to treble the original 2018 forecast of 15 percent with a total of 45.9 percent since the previous October. At least core inflation (excluding seasonal and regulated prices, the latter rising 7.4 percent last month) was below the overall figure at 4.5 percent, unlike in September.
Workers in the private sector will receive a 5,000-peso end-of-year bonus, after President Mauricio Macri signed a decree authorising the measure, which was promulgated into law via the Official Gazette. The first half of the bonus will trickle down to workers in December, with the other half arriving in February.
ONE YEAR SINCE DISAPPEARANCE OF ARA SAN JUAN
The first anniversary of the disappearance of the submarine ARA San Juan in the South Atlantic was marked on Thursday by a commemorative ceremony featuring the Navy and the families of the missing crew but with no ongoing search at that time or anybody on trial. President Mauricio Macri attended the ceremony, organised by the families. (For more, see Pages 4 and 5).
Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello has acquitted Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in a money-laundering case against jailed Kirchnerite tycoon Lázaro Báez, prompting both the Anti-Corruption Office (OA) and the UIF money-laundering watchdog to take his decision to the Federal Appeals Court. But 2015 Progressives presidential candidate Margarita Stolbizer, one of the first to crusade against Kirchnerite corruption, found Casanello’s decision reasonable, arguing that there were stronger cases to be pursued. Casanello saw the money-laundering to the tune of US$60 million in this case as the personal responsibility of Báez rather than acting as a surrogate for the 2007-2015 president.
Four people, including a baby and a pregnant woman, were found dead in flooded areas this week, after three days of torrential rain and heavy storms hit parts of the country. More than 1,800 people were evacuated.