Friday, April 3, 2020

ARGENTINA | 06-10-2018 09:50

Oct 1st-7th: What We Learned This Week

What has happened the last seven days?


In the first full week for the new monetary policies stemming from the latest agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the dollar was successfully kept below the 40-peso mark but at the price of Leliq interest rates soaring beyond 70 percent. However, the auto industry reported disastrous figures for last month with sales down almost 35 percent and production 21 percent. The INDEC statistics bureau also revealed industrial activity contracted by 5.7 percent in August. Meanwhile, there was no progress in passage of the 2019 budget despite a midweek appearance of Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña to defend it, underlining that 77 percent of its spending was social (although ASAP budget watchdogs last week reported serious underspending in that department with Carolina Stanley’s ministry using up only 68.46 percent of its allocation in three-quarters of the year).


Confirmed on Monday, the resignation of Juan Carlos Schmid (a staunch ally of teamster Hugo Moyano) from the trio heading the CGT umbrella union grouping was seen as a bid to accelerate the election of a new leadership at a time of rising socio-economic tensions. But despite Moyano’s pressure, the remaining CGT leadership has not given up on dialogue with the government. Meanwhile, various trade union leaders pushed to re-open collective bargaining as from next month, insisting that this year should not close without wage increases totalling at least 35 percent (with Moyano seeking 40 percent for his teamsters).


On Wednesday, Federal Judge Julián Ercolini sent former president and senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and both her children (Máximo and Florencia), to trial for alleged money-laundering via their Patagonian Los Sauces hotel and real-estate firm. Kirchnerite tycoons Cristóbal López, Lázaro Báez and Fabián De Sousa are also indicted in the case, among others. On Thursday it was the turn of former Public Works secretary turned state witness José López to testify (see Page 5). And then yesterday Techint multinational owner Paolo Rocca was due to be questioned by Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio over alleged bribes in the context of the ‘cuadernos,’ or ‘notebooks’ exposés of Kirchnerite graft (see Page 4).


On Monday the First Criminal Court of La Plata sentenced brothers Martín and Cristian Lanatta and Víctor Schillaci to 42 months for breaking out of General Alvear prison in late 2015. All three men were already serving life sentences for the General Rodríguez triple murder of 2008 and also face further charges for shooting and wounding two police officers while on the run. After sentencing the three convicts, the court called for a further investigation of the roles of former Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández and former Buenos Aires province governor Daniel Scioli in the breakout.


The Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation controversially acquitted former president Carlos Menem (1989-1999) on Thursday for armstrafficking weapons to Croatia and Ecuador during his government, 23 years after the start of the case. (See Page 5 for more on the case and decision, as well as reaction).


As from Thursday some 500 businessmen from all G20 countries met in the climax of the “B20” to pool over a year’s work by eight task forces and draft a final statement for submission to President Mauricio Macri last night. At the start of the week. First Lady Juliana Awada inaugurated the W20, which also drafted a final statement delivered to Macri in midweek. Macri told the W20 that he had prioritised gender issues in his state-of-the-nation speech last March, including the historic introduction of an abortion bill.


In this photo released, last Sunday by the Mundo Marino Foundation, a humpback whale lies stranded on the beach of the Atlantic coast town of Mar del Tuyu, in Buenos Aires Province, after running aground. The cetacean was returned to the sea Monday after a successful rescue operation that lasted 28 hours.


Veteran political cartoonist, journalist and artist Hermenegildo ‘Menchi’ Sábat died in his sleep on Monday night at the age of 85. Born in Montevideo in 1933, the heroes of Uruguay’s 1950 ‘Maracanazo’ World Cup triumph were among his first drawings. In 1966, he crossed the River Plate to Argentina and by 1973 was firmly installed in Clarín, the mass circulation daily where he worked the rest of his life. He did not shrink from either hard-hitting caricatures of the 1976-83 military dictatorship or controversial cartoon portraits of 2007-2015 president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (“Mafia messages,” according to her) at the height of her power. His work won numerous prizes. Although bestknown for his cartoons, Sabat also wrote over 20 books, many on jazz and tango (see Page 13).


The 2019 Youth Olympics started in Buenos Aires this week with the participation of over 4,000 young athletes from some 200 countries. The capital’s main downtown thoroughfare 9 de Julio was closed from midweek in preparation for the inauguration ceremony, thus causing major traffic snarls. Good luck to all those competing!

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