Sunday, January 23, 2022

ARGENTINA | 20-10-2018 09:04

Oct 15th-21st: What We Learned This Week

What has happened the last seven days?


The murder of 10-year-old Sheila Ayala this week prompted more public outcry and media coverage than any case since the slaying of Angeles Rawson in 2013. And in at least one respect the public reaction represented a new dimension, because the clamour for justice united opposing ends of the political spectrum, if through separate marches – both law-andorder hardliners usually linked to the right and Ni Una Menos feminists more to the left protesting gender violence – while neighbours of the dead girl also mobilised in San Martín. The results of yesterday’s autopsy showed that Sheila had been strangled while trying to defend herself against presumed sexual abuse while her uncle Fabián González, arrested on suspicion of the crime, had scratched arms. One of the suspect’s neighbours accused him of trying to abuse his own daughter. Prosecutor Marcelo Lapargo believes that González killed the girl in order to cover up the attempted abuse, which had not progressed as far as rape according to the autopsy. The girl’s naked body, with broken ribs from apparently being thrown off a balcony, was found in a plastic bag.


The National Women’s Encounter in the Patagonian city of Trelew (Chubut) was broadly a success, gathering women from all over the country in 70 workshops between October 13 and 15, but the event was marred by a Molotov cocktail attack on a Catholic school by an extremist fringe (presumably to protest Church opposition to abortion), torching its library. There were 10 arrests. Deputies Victoria Donde and Myriam Bregman were among those in attendance.


Last month’s inflation was 6.5 percent, INDEC national statistics bureau announced on Wednesday – the highest figure in almost 30 months and second only to the 6.7 percent of April 2016. The main culprits were regulated prices (this time transport fares more than gas or electricity bills, as previously) and the devaluation but rises in garments and footwear (9.8 percent) and domestic appliances (9.7 percent) were also significant. Strangely enough, despite this primacy of regulated prices, core inflation was unusually far higher than the overall average at 7.6 percent. Food prices increased seven percent.


Maverick government ally Elisa Carrió stayed in the limelight this week, pressing ahead with the impeachment of Justice Minister Germán Garavano last Tuesday but denying any electoral candidacy beyond her Lower House seat. While having no plans to meet with President Mauricio Macri in the next fortnight, Carrió described him as the best presidential candidate for next year’s elections but she has already started sniping at Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio. Meanwhile, the impeachment drive against Garavano is not expected to prosper because not only is Carrió’s Civic Coalition alone within the ruling alliance (both Macri’s PRO and the Radicals are opposed to it) but the Kirchnerite opposition is considered unlikely to back charges, which include being in no hurry to send ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to jail for alleged corruption.


Adecree signed by Vice-President Gabriela Michetti and Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña and published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday has blocked the administrative probe into the Post Office debt. This probe centred on a decision in early 2017 by current Defence Minister Oscar Aguad (then heading the now dissolved Communications Ministry) to condone the debt owed by the Post Office, which was privatised to the Macri family group between 1997 and 2003. The decree gives rise to obvious conflict of interest questions from the way the Executive branch of government has thus played judge and jury in a case involving the family of President Mauricio Macri.


Intense speculation over the imminent arrest of teamster leader Pablo Moyano on corruption charges ended in anti-climax this week when Avellaneda judge Luis Carzoglio refrained from ordering him to be remanded in custody. On Thursday, supporters welcomed Moyano back from Singapore at Ezeiza Airport.


Peronists around the country celebrated Loyalty Day on Wednesday but before doing so, they had to answer the question: “Loyal to whom?” There were at least six different events, fully reflecting the movement’s current fragmentation. The main rally of non-Kirchnerite Peronism was held in Tucumán and hosted by local Governor Juan Luis Manzur while the focus for Kirchnerism was divided between an event organised by Merlo Mayor Gustavo Menéndez for his fellow-mayors in his Greater Buenos Aires district (also open to all Peronists not objecting to a Kirchnerite presence) and a Corrientes rally featuring José Luis Gioja (who is disputing the Justicialist Party chairmanship with trade unionist Luis Barrionuevo), deputy Agustín Rossi and Formosa Governor Gildo Insfrán. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner shunned both these and other celebrations but her son Máximo went to Merlo. Organised labour divided its celebrations between an anti-Macri rally in this capital organised by SMATA auto workers union leader Ricardo Pignanelli and two events of the traditionalist 62 Organisations – one pro-Macri in Córdoba and the other more neutral here. Peronist Loyalty Day honours the mass demonstrations to free then detained Vice-President Juan Domingo Perón on October 17, 1945.


Public schools were closed for the last two days of the week in Buenos Aires province, bringing this year’s total up to 26 days. This already marks the most intense militancy since the CTERA teachers union sustained 45 days of strikes against Raúl Alfonsín’s Radical government three decades ago in 1988 – Governor María Eugenia Vidal’s Peronist predecessor Daniel Scioli ranged between 17 and 20 days of lost classes annually in his second term. Vidal’s administration (which has been paying teachers unilateral monthly pay increases of between two and five percent this year ahead of a settlement) upped its offer to 31.7 percent, plus the re-opening of collective bargaining in December. The teacher union response is that this comes nowhere near inflation, which reached a new peak for the year last month.

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