Sunday, February 25, 2024

ARGENTINA | 03-09-2022 16:05

Stories that caught our eye: August 27 to September 1

A selection of the stories that caught our eye.



Tension between Kirchnerite militants thronging outside the Recoleta flat of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and often hostile local residents reached a head last weekend when Friday night fireworks triggered the intervention of the City Police installing barriers with pushback from the militants. The situation was calmer during the week without defusing the tension. The vice-presidential response was to question whether a “political police” had not forfeited the city’s right to autonomy.



The newly confirmed Deputy Economy Minister Gabriel Rubinstein had a rough baptism of fire last weekend when Kirchnerite journalist Horacio Verbitsky leaked an alleged plan of his to devalue the currency to the tune of  200 pesos per dollar as from last Thursday with a view to a unified exchange rate by the year 2024 or 2025, a plan promptly denied by Rubinstein who said: “I assure you 100 percent that there will no devaluation, at least not this Thursday (in reference to September 1).” Verbitsky also took Rubinstein to task for "vindicating (business) bosses … and his puerile insults in the antisocial networks." At least Rubinstein, who started the week off the flight taking Economy Minister Sergio Massa to the United States next Tuesday, had his presence in the delegation confirmed in the course of the week. 


Ex-minister and ex-senator Esteban Bullrich was rushed into an intensive care ward in Austral Hospital with breathing difficulties on Wednesday afternoon when he was reported to be "stable and sedated" in the first medical bulletin. Bullrich was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), an incurable illness until now, in April last year. Bullrich has remained lucid throughout that period, commenting last weekend on the confrontations outside Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Recoleta flat with the words: "I continue to believe that this level of insanity and violence should be opposed with all the rigour of the law in the framework of the Constitution."



Leading government officials made a sworn statement of their assets last year to the Anti-Corruption Office last Wednesday. President Alberto Fernández reportedly declared 17,833,320 pesos, 107 percent more than in 2020, while the assets of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have climbed to 48,608,385 pesos from 16,463,095 in 2020 or a gain of 96 percent in real terms. Sports and Tourism Minister Matías Lammens led the field in government ranks with 54.6 million pesos although the runaway leader overall was deputy Máximo Kirchner, declaring over 523 million pesos.  The president later disputed the numbers quoted by some local outlets.



Prosecutor Fabiana León on Monday asked for a suspended three-year prison sentence plus a fine of US$200,000 against former Army Chief-of-Staff César Milani for presumed embezzlement with the purchase of a San Isidro house beyond his apparent means as the evidence. The case is being tried by federal judge Daniel Rafecas. Milani has already been acquitted in two previous embezzlement trials. 



Bus stoppages continued in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires last week, affecting night travel in particular, to protest delays and arrears in the payment of subsidies by the national and Buenos Aires provincial governments and by City Hall amounting to 7.2 billion, 12 billion and 4.8 billion pesos respectively. No less than 118 bus lines are affected by the partial lockout.



Economy Minister Sergio Massa and ANSES social security administration chief Fernanda Raverta announced family benefit increases as from this month last Tuesday, including 9,875 pesos at birth, 59,058 pesos for adoption and 14,788 pesos for marriage.



The presidents of the nations making up the Andean Community (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) said on Monday they would like Venezuela, Chile and Argentina to join the group as much of South America shifts left. Venezuela and Chile were once members, while Argentina has never joined.



Leandro Suárez, 30, was sentenced to life imprisonment last Tuesday for killing Ramos Mejía news vendor Roberto Sabo at the height of the 2021 midterm campaign, a crime making law and order a hot electoral issue. A maximum sentence was issued since it was considered that Sabo was offering no resistance when being robbed of 10,000 pesos by Suárez, who fired four bullets into the news vendor’s body on November 7, 2021 – News Vendor’s Day (when no newspapers are distributed) in a cruel irony.



A five-day long weekend on the other side of the River Plate saw over 70,000 Uruguayans cross the frontier to embark on shopping sprees for items priced around 40 percent cheaper than in Uruguay on average thanks to inflation and an acceleration of devaluation. Some cars needed over 10 hours to cross Entre Ríos bridges.



A mystery illness claimed its third life in Tucumán last Thursday. The symptoms correspond to bilateral pneumonia but the causes remain unknown with previous scourges such as Covid-19 and Hantavirus ruled out. The first case was diagnosed on August 20. The first two victims worked in the health sector but not Thursday’s death although so far there has been no contagion outside the Sanatorio Luz Médica hospital.



Mendoza bécame the first province to accept the payment of taxes in cryptocurrencies when its Finance Minister Víctor Fayad announced the option last Monday. Aimed at modernisation, this move nevertheless does not come at the most auspicious time for digital wallets with Bitcoin falling this year, especially in the last three weeks.   



Libertarian City legislator Roberto García Moritán has proposed the demolition of the Social Development Ministry building on the Nueve de Julio thoroughfare (constructed between 1933 and 1934) as an eyesore. The suggestion was resisted by, among others, presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti who called it “an expression of gorilla anti-Peronism” and by García Moritán’s leftist colleague Gabriel Solano, who said it was inspired by “hatred of the poor.”



NASA announced on Monday that it was suspending the launch of the Artemis I spaceship from Cape Canaveral with no new date due to fuel supply problems in one of the motors. Once the spaceship takes off from the Florida base, it is scheduled to reach the Moon in around six weeks.



There was an explosive reaction in the social networks to the new purple shirt officially presented last Monday for the Albiceleste football squad in the Qatar World Cup. The colour is unprecedented with blue previously the main alternative to the traditional light blue and white.


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