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ARGENTINA | 26-10-2019 13:08

Oct 20th-27th: What We Learned This Week

What has happened these last seven days?

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW...

General elections will be held in Argentina tomorrow. The presidential race is widely seen as between President Mauricio Macri and his Frente de Todos rival Alberto Fernández although four other candidates (Nicolás Del Caño, José Luis Espert, Juan José Gómez Centurión and Roberto Lavagna in alphabetical order) also cleared the PASO primary threshold of 1.5 percent. Half the Chamber of Deputies (130 seats this year) and a third of the Senate (24 seats in eight districts) will be renewed, as happens every two years – this year’s senatorial voting will be in the Federal Capital, Salta, Tierra del Fuego, Chaco, Río Negro, Santiago del Estero, Neuquén and Entre Ríos. Most provinces had already held their local elections in the first half of the year with just four districts voting tomorrow – this City, Buenos Aires Province (housing around three voters out of every eight), Catamarca and La Rioja. Most candidates held their closing rallies on Thursday as they appealed for extra votes.

 

ANYTHING LEFT IN RESERVE?

Central Bank reserves fell US$ 1.755 billion yesterday in the last working day before tomorrow’s elections, with the decline totalling almost US$ 5.2 billion for this month so far and over US$ 22.8 billion since the PASO primaries on August 11. The reserves thus closed the week at US$ 43.5 billion, their lowest level since the start of 2017. Meanwhile the dollar reached an average exchange rate of 65 pesos among the various banks.

 

MORE SHRINKAGE

The Argentine economy contracted 3.8 percent in August as against the same month in 2018 with shrinkage of 2.3 percent so far this year, INDEC statistics bureau reported on Thursday. The slump comes despite growth rates of 6.5 percent in the agricultural sector and 3.8 percent for mines and quarries. The most heavily punished sectors were the financial (-16.4 percent), retailing (-8.8 percent) and manufacturing industry (-6.6 percent).

 

ASBESTOS LAWSUIT

City Hall is suing the Madrid Underground for selling it 36 subway wagons with asbestos in 2011-2, demanding compensation of 15 million euros. Asbestos has been found to be a toxic material with lung cancer one of its biggest health risks.

 

DARTHÉS POINTS FINGER

Facing rape charges in Nicaragua, actor Juan Darthés said that he would co-operate with the judiciary but also suggested a closer investigation of his alleged victim and accuser, actress Thelma Fardin.

 

PRESIDENT’S BROTHER INJURED DURING BREAK-IN

Mariano Macri, the brother of President Mauricio Macri, suffered “minor injuries” after being assaulted during break-in at his home in a gated community close to Tigre this week. Seven people were arrested by police, one carrying a gun, after officers managed to stop the assailants after arriving on the scene. The aggressors, identified by police as between 15 and 17 years of age, entered the grounds of the property after “cutting perimeter fencing,” according to reports, before confronting the homeowner. Police believe the attack was not premeditated.

 

ACROSS THE WATER...

Both sides of the River Plate estuary will be voting tomorrow with a much closer result generally expected in Uruguay than here – one common denominator between the two countries is the lack of any female presidential candidate. The ruling Broad Front is seeking to govern Uruguay for a fourth term running (two terms of outgoing President Tabaré Vázquez with José Mjuica in between). Unlike here in Argentina pollsters consider a November 24 run-off to be extremely likely with Broad Front candidate Daniel Martínez (a centrist like Alberto Fernández) and youthful Luis Lacalle Pou of the centre-right National Party (the son of 1990-5 president Luis Lacalle Herrera) tipped to participate, both battling for the middle ground – in Uruguay an absolute majority, not 45 percent, is needed for a first-round win. Martínez is expected to top 40 percent, but not 50 percent. Running for the Colorados (Uruguay’s historic ruling party in both the 19th and 20th centuries), economist Ernesto Talvi is not even guaranteed third place against the rightist challenge of military candidate Guido Manini Ríos. Uruguay is not immune from the regional economic downturn, thus complicating the Broad Front’s continuity, even though the country is much better off than when the centre-left coalition first came to power 12 years ago in the wake of the 2003 crisis.

 

UNREST GRIPS THE REGION

Chile’s crisis (with over a million people demonstrating in Santiago yesterday and around 20 or more people dead), a disputed election in Bolivia and continuing disturbances in Ecuador and Peru were some of the ingredients of a cocktail of regional unrest in Latin America last week. (See Page 14.)

 

BOCA SICK OF GALLARDO

Boca Juniors beat River Plate 1-0 at home with a Juan Carlos Hurtado goal in the latest of their eternal superderbies, last Tuesday’s Libertadores Cup semi-final, but it was not enough to avoid elimination after a 2-0 deficit from the away leg, sending River to the final.

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