Sunday, June 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 28-11-2020 09:04

What we learned this week: November 21 to 28

Our pick of the stories from the last seven days (with the exception of just a mention of Maradona).


DIEGO MARADONA (1960-2020)

On Wednesday a shocked nation gradually awoke to the fact that Diego Armando Maradona had not woken up with them that morning. For more details of his death, the chaotic farewell to his remains, the worldwide tributes and comments of all kinds, see the rest of our coverage.


Diego Maradona was sadly not the only person who died last week – the lives lost to coronavirus climbed from 37,941 to 38,216 between the end of last week and press time while the confirmed cases of contagion rose from 1,296,378 to 1,407,277 in the same period. Last weekend President Alberto Fernández made the pandemic his main issue when addressing the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia from the Atlantic resort of Chapadmalal. On Tuesday the Vaccination Committee held its first meeting headed by President Fernández to plan the logistics of the mass vaccination of 12-13 million people between risk groups and key workers with the exact date still in the air. Tuesday was also the day this city reopened its doors to domestic and international tourism within certain protocols against Covid-19, including a selective testing strategy although the preventive measures also rely on individual responsibility. But all foreign tourists other than Uruguayans (who may also cross the River Plate) can only enter via Ezeiza Airport, re-opened as from December 15. Nearly 10 million tourists visited the national capital last year, City Hall reported. On Wednesday Buenos Aires Province doctors went on strike to demand collective bargaining to improve the government’s offer of a 20 percent increase for a starting salary of 51,700 pesos, as well as more regular leave after eight months of non-stop battle against the pandemic – adherence of around 80 percent was reported.  


Until Diego Maradona died, the big emotional issue gripping the nation was the plight of Abigail Jiménez, 12, the cancer-stricken child who had to be carried across the Santiago del Estero-Tucumán border by her father because the provincial police would not let his car through – a story revealed last weekend. But just as the news of the football idol’s death was starting to leak, Abigail was being flown home to Santiago del Estero from the Austral Hospital in Pilar. Beforehand, Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero had criticised the outcry over Abigail’s plight, accusing the opposition of politicising an emotional issue to discredit the government’s quarantine policies. Last weekend the Juntos por el Cambio opposition asked Marisa Graham, the government ombudsman for children, to intervene of protect Abigail’s human rights.


Until Diego Maradona’s death swamped all else, City Education Minister Soledad Acuña remained in the firing-line over her critique of declining standards in the teaching profession with militant indoctrination replacing true schooling after Página/12 newspaper revealed over the weekend that she had studied at a Bariloche school founded by Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, who organised the massacre of 335 Italian hostages in Rome in 1944 before fleeing here and dying seven years ago at the age of 100. Cue lots of outrage, on both sides. 


Federal judge Marcelo Martínez De Giorgi on Tuesday acquitted Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in one of the corruption trials against her based on the so-called “cuadernos” – the copybooks of former Federal Planning Ministry chauffeur Oscar Centeno chronicling public works graft. The judge refused to consider the latter as admissible evidence and thus concluded that there were no grounds for continuing the case investigating bus subsidies. More than 200 co-defendants were also acquitted. Martínez de Georgi inherited the case from his late colleague Claudio Bonadio on the latter’s death last February.


Economic activity in Argentina dipped 6.9 percent in September as compared to the same month in 2019, INDEC statistics bureau reported on Tuesday, while improving 1.9 percent as against the previous month – better data than expected by analysts. Various sectors were reported to be slowly picking up following a prolonged recession and the coronavirus pandemic. In the first nine months of this year the economy has plunged 11.9 percent by comparison with the first three quarters of 2019 but specialists estimate that the September figures project into negative growth of 8.6 percent. Nevertheless, the September of last year represents a low base since it was the first full month after the shock results of the PASO primary with their negative economic fallout.  


City statisticians on Thursday published an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent for the Federal Capital as a whole in the third quarter of this year but the figure stood at 19 percent for the southern communes, 5.5 percent more than for the same quarter of 2019 (and thus almost doubling the 2.9 percent increase across the city). Underemployment was measured at 15.3 percent with 47.4 percent of the male population employed and 40.8 percent of the female. 


Exchange markets managed to stay out of the focus this week with the “blue” parallel dollar, which had closed last month at 195 pesos, continuing its slide to close the week at 156 pesos, five pesos below the previous Friday’s 161 pesos. The indirect but legal alternative exchange rates CCL (contado con liquidación) and MEP (medio electrónico de pagos) also retreated, the CCL from 151.11 to 148.92 pesos and the MEP from 148.21 to 145.45 pesos. The official exchange rate at Banco Nación inched up from 86 to 86.25 pesos or 142 pesos with the 65 percent surcharges for savers. Finally, country risk was virtually static, moving from 1,378 to 1,379 points. 


Hackers last week claimed to have lifted 50 gigabytes of information off the official website.


Femicides accounted for 56 percent of last year’s murders in this city (up on 47 percent the previous year) with antecedents of gender violence in 60 percent of the cases, it was revealed by the special UFEM unit covering the issue on Tuesday, with most victims in their 30s and 80 percent of the cases occurring within the family.


Argentina's Army has been told that it must respect the one percent quota for incorporating transvestites, transsexuals and transgender people in compliance with the new legislation, just like the rest of the public sector. The new quota was decreed on September 4 and sets a November 30 deadline for compliance.

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys, who first entered the Buenos Aires Herald in 1983, held various editorial posts at the newspaper from 1990 and was the lead writer of the publication’s editorials from 1987 until 2017.


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