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ARGENTINA | 10-08-2023 23:07

Stories that caught our eye: August 5 to 12

A selection of the stories that caught our eye over the last seven days in Argentina.

 

A CAMPAIGN UNMADE IN LANÚS

The murder of Morena Domínguez, the 11-year-old schoolgirl killed by motorcycle thieves last Wednesday in Lanús while on her way to class, caused a public uproar resulting in the suspension of campaign rallies. But tomorrow’s PASO primaries are still scheduled to go ahead with an electorate of 35,394,425 eligible to vote in 104,577 voting-precincts. They will be choosing between 27 presidential tickets as well as electing 130 national deputies nationwide. In addition, there will be gubernatorial, provincial and municipal primaries in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Entre Ríos and Santa Cruz while Buenos Aires, Formosa, Jujuy, La Rioja, Misiones, San Juan, San Luis and Santa Cruz will be renewing three senators each.

 

JUNTOS POR LA SELFIE

At least one campaign episode last week can be mentioned here without infringing the veda electoral curfew in force since yesterday by taking sides – Juntos por el Cambio presidential primary rivals Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich teamed up on Monday with a studiously (but not totally) neutral ex-president Mauricio Macri to back the latter’s cousin Jorge Macri as the single PRO mayoral hopeful in a selfie taken by the beneficiary of this display of party unity. Yet their statements in favour of the candidacy and their past municipal achievements will be omitted here in view of the veda. In one of his more politically neutral statements last week, Jorge Macri proposed the payment of public transport with mobile telephones or credit cards instead of the SUBE system in force since 2009, which he questioned as “outdated.”

 

MARKET TURMOIL

The Central Bank’s streak of dollar purchases in 10 of the previous 11 weekdays to counter dwindling reserves came to a halt last Tuesday with the sale of US$21 million to defend the exchange rate on a day when only US$85 million of farm exports were cashed as against US$132.4 million last Monday. Until then the preferential exchange rate of 340 pesos per dollar for maize and regional economy exports introduced in late July had lured US$1.83 billion with a net gain of US$1.27 billion for reserves. The negative change in trend comes at a time when the government is speeding depreciation of the official exchange rate. Meanwhile, amid pre-ballot chaos, the ‘dólar blue’ soared to more than 600 pesos per greenback.

 

CITY INFLATION UP FROM JUNE

July inflation was 7.3 percent for an accumulated 62.3 percent so far this year at an annual rate of 117.9 percent, City Hall’s statistics office reported on Monday – a slight increase on June’s 7.1 percent. The main culprits in this winter holiday month were restaurants and hotels (12.1 percent), recreation and culture (11.5 percent), education (11 percent) and health (eight percent) with all other items below average, including the key food and beverages item (5.6 percent). Goods rose 6.3 percent and services eight percent for annual increases of 58.3 percent and 65.2 percent respectively. 

 

MILAGRO SALA BEREAVED

The journalist Raúl Noro, the husband of the Jujuy indigenous social leader Milagro Sala, died last weekend. Although aged 80 and stricken with cancer in the last few months, family and friends said that the recent upheavals in Jujuy and the subsequent crackdown had hastened his decease. Noro had a long journalistic track record behind him, working as the provincial correspondent for the Tucumán newspaper La Gaceta and for La Nación, as well as compiling his articles into a book published in 2014 and entitled La verdad de la realidad y la realidad de la verdad (“The truth of reality and the reality of truth”)” in which he also sought “to bring complex concepts of philosophy and phenomenology closer to the general public." He was also a veteran activist for the Humanist Party.

 

PEACE, BREAD AND WORK

Monsignor Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva, the new Archbishop of Buenos Aires, marked Saint Cajetan’s Day last Monday with a sermon underlining the impact of inflation on wages, alerting: “What goes into your pocket is eaten up by damned inflation … the insecurity of not having a future of hope for children and grandchildren. We’re asking the saint for bread because although many have work, it is not enough.” The primate’s message to thousands outside the Liniers church dedicated to the saint was echoed the previous day by Argentine Synod head Monsignor Oscar Ojea, who spoke when holding Sunday mass of “so many workers not making it to the end of the month,” especially in the “popular economy.” Their words came just a couple of days after INDEC national statistics bureau had announced that those below the poverty line had risen from 34.2 to 38.7 percent of the population with the destitute up from 8.2 to 8.9 percent. The saint’s day was preceded the previous evening by a vigil with fireworks and a music festival for the thousands camping in the vicinity of the Liniers church to await the celebration of the saint of peace, bread and work.

 

DON’T SLEEP ON THE HIGHWAY!

The “Conquistadora del Desierto” highway (Ruta Provincial 20) crisscrossing the province of La Pampa has earned the reputation of being Argentina’s most dangerous because it has no curves in 200 kilometres of monotonous landscape nor service sessions or hotels, causing drivers to fall asleep at the wheel with a double-digit annual death toll. Added to these dangers of what is also nicknamed “Ruta de la Muerte” are extreme temperatures of over 40 degrees in summer and almost -20 degrees in winter. The highway is a key road for connecting the national capital with Patagonia.

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