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ARGENTINA | 21-04-2023 13:17

Stories that caught our eye: April 15 to 21

A selection of stories that have caught our eye recently in Argentina.

 

THE WEEK IN ELECTIONS

Last Sunday’s provincial elections in Neuquén and Río Negro came with a huge upset in the former as a six-decade streak of electoral victories by the Neuquén Popular Movement (MPN, in its Spanish acronym) was snapped despite the Vaca Muerta shale boom with Rolando Figueroa, a former lieutenant-governor and dissident MPN leader enjoying PRO support, emerging as the next governor. The Río Negro winner was a more familiar face – Senator Alberto Weretilneck, who returns to the gubernatorial post he held between 2012 and 2019 although his vote of just over 40 percent (a quarter of which came from an opportunistic alliance with the Kirchnerite La Cámpora grouping) undershot the 52 percent won by outgoing governor Arabela Carreras of the same Juntos Somos Río Negro party in the previous elections. On the same day Juntos por el Cambio won the mayoral elections in the important Chubut city of Trelew. In other election news, one Peronist governor broke with the national government’s electoral schedule while another held true – Formosa Governor Gildo Insfrán set a provincial election date of June 25 to seek an eighth consecutive term while last weekend Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof decreed PASO primaries for August 13, the same date as the national timetable. Otherwise only Catamarca, Chubut and Santa Cruz are (at least for now) timing their provincial elections to accompany the national general election date of October 22.

 

INTEREST RATES HIKED

The Central Bank jacked up interest rates to 81 percent on Thursday, reacting to the “blue” parallel exchange rate soaring past the 430-peso mark in midweek as well as the negative combo of a 10-digit March trade deficit (US$ 1.1 billion) and estimates of the drought-stricken soy harvest pegged down yet further from 25 to 23.5 million tons. Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has taken on board the extent of drought damage to the economy as negotiations continue towards revising the ongoing agreement with Argentina, following talks in Washington last weekend  between Gita Gopinath (the right hand of IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva) and Economy Minister Sergio Massa, which the latter described as "very productive." The revision of targets includes the accumulation of Central Bank reserves and fiscal deficit while Massa is even hoping for all this year’s IMF remittances to be brought forward.

 

DID SHE OR DIDN’T SHE?

The United States Embassy came out on Tuesday to deny reports from the Clarín daily that Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had requested a meeting with visiting Southern Command chief General Laura Richardson and been turned down. This enabled the former president to come out with one of her greatest hits: “Clarín lies.” General Richardson did meet Defence Minister Jorge Taiana while in this country between Monday and Tuesday. Almost a year ago (last April 26) the veep had received both General Richardson and US Ambassador Marc Stanley in her Senate office, thus prompting widespread comment on this change of tack from her usual Yankee-bashing. Richardson’s visit this time was seen as part of a bid to follow up the positive momentum from last month’s White House meeting between Presidents Alberto Fernández and Joe Biden with a view to a potential trade-off between alignment with Washington against China and US support for Argentina’s bid for better terms from the International Monetary Fund.
 

FLORENCIA TO SUE

Florencia Kirchner, the daughter of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, will be suing the La Nación+ journalists Viviana Canosa and Laura Di Marco for violating her “human and personal rights” with their comments on her alleged “galloping anorexia,” regarding the subsequent apologies of the latter as insufficient. “Not everything goes in democracy," insisted Florencia Kirchner, insisting that the objective of their remarks last Easter was “to provoke pain” while thanking those who had repudiated the inappropriate statements on her health. On Tuesday Di Marco carried her apology one step further by resigning from the Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) journalists association, many of whose members had criticised her remarks on the young woman’s health whose disorder she had also attributed to neglect on the part of her mother, the vice-president.

 

VICE-PRESIDENT NOT HIS ONLY VICE?

Quite apart from attempting to put a bullet through the head of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner last September 1, Fernando Sabag Montiel now faces trial for the distribution of child pornography at the request of prosecutor Daniel Dupuy.

 

MALVINAS PUSHBACK RENEWED

Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero underlined that "the British military presence in the South Atlantic is unacceptable " with the United Kingdom disregarding the norms of multilateralism and international law at last Monday’s ministerial meeting of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic in Cape Verde. Calling for a fair, peaceful and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute, Cafiero also deplored "illegal" oil exploration around the islands. Created in 1986, the grouping links 24 South American and African states with South Atlantic shorelines.

 

ROSARIO CARNAGE

This year’s homicide toll in Rosario had already reached 94 before this weekend began when 18-year-old Gustavo Daniel Medina was gunned down outside the door of his West Side house late on Wednesday night.  The previous day Germán Patricio Díaz was shot dead, this time upon leaving, not entering his house in order to go to work.   

 

NAZI DOUGH DENIED

The troubled Credit Suisse bank last Tuesday announced that it had concluded a 50,000-hour investigation lasting over two years without finding any evidence of bank accounts here belonging to Nazis moving to Argentina, either post-war or pre-war, as denounced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2020. Nor did it locate any assets belonging to Holocaust victims. The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center had denounced that it had reason to believe that much of the money seized during the Nazi persecution of Jews after 1933 had been laundered away into as many as 12,000 Schweizerische Kreditanstalt bank accounts in Argentina (ruled by Army generals during that period) with German- owned banks not always free from scrutiny while some German Jews may also have tried to anticipate the loss of their assets by the same channel.

 

MARADONA TRIAL ON WAY

Eight medical personnel, including his personal physician Leopoldo Luque, will go on trial for simple homicide on charges of malpractice and negligence when caring for late football superstar Diego Maradona during his last weeks in the spring of 2020, the San Isidro Criminal Appeals Court ruled on Tuesday.

 

NATACHA JAITT MYSTERY CONTINUES

More than four years after her mysterious death, the mobile telephone of starlet Natacha Jaitt has finally been unblocked, leading her brother Ulises to ask what took them so long and to explode: “These courts are corrupt, they’re raping Natacha when dead.” He went on to attribute the delay to an attempt to protect a long list of famous paedophiles allegedly contained in the mobile telephone.

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