Saturday, March 2, 2024

ARGENTINA | 08-12-2023 08:38

Stories that caught our eye: December 1 to 8

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



President-elect Javier Milei on Monday confirmed Luis Petri, the Radical running-mate of his new Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, as the next Luis Petri, thus completing his future Cabinet. The two appointments marked a change of plans since vice-president-elect Victoria Villarruel had originally been placed in charge of these two portfolios. Other ministers are Luis Caputo (Economy), Diana Mondino (Foreign Relations), Guillermo Francos (Interior), Sandra Pettovello (Human Capital), Guillermo Ferraro (Infrastructure) and Mariano Cúneo Libarona (Justice). Even after finally deciding on Santiago Bausili to head the Central Bank in midweek along with Daniel Tillard (close to outgoing Córdoba Governor Juan Schiaretti) at Banco Nación and Belén Stettler as the new Communications secretary, some key posts such as AFI intelligence remained vacant at press time.



Outgoing President Alberto Fernández was the recipient of dozens of resignations from his officials in the course of last week while planning his own future in Spain, apart from attending the Mercosur Summit in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday and Thursday. First lady Fabiola Yáñez and their baby son Francisco have already been in Madrid since last Sunday but the President himself will obviously be a central figure in this weekend’s transfer of power. Speculation about the future ex-president’s activity ranges from academic life as a law lecturer in a Spanish university to being found a place in the government of Socialist premier Pedro Sánchez.



The main presidential inauguration is set for this weekend but there were analogous ceremonies at other levels on Thursday – in the afternoon the 130 deputies and 24 senators elected last October took their various oaths in Congress while in the morning outgoing Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta handed over the attributes of office to his elected successor Jorge Macri (pictured), who then proceeded to swear in his ministers. Watched by his cousin, former president Mauricio Macri, among others, the new Mayor said that he would press the incoming Javier Milei Presidency to honour the Supreme Court ruling restoring federal-revenue funds removed by the outgoing Frente de Todos government to the capital. The City’s allocation of federal revenue-sharing funds was cut from 3.5 to 1.4 percent by the Alberto Fernández Presidency. Macri further said that his would be a new stage which could not rest on the laurels of “past successes,” promising to bring order back to the streets and saying that it was impossible to govern by avoiding conflict. The revision of the Urban Code is a further priority for him. The ministers under Cabinet Chief Néstor Grindetti (outgoing Lanús mayor and a defeated Buenos Aires Province gubernatorial candidate) will include Waldo Wolff (Security), Fernán Quirós (Health), Roberto García Moritán (Economic Development), Gabino Tapia (Justice), Gustavo Arengo Piragine (Finance) and the engineer Pablo Bereciartua (Infrastructure), among others.



While market analysts were debating whether the various exchange rates would eventually end up converging around 600 to 650 pesos (Interior Minister Guillermo Francos dixit), 800 or even 1,000 pesos, the outgoing government advanced some of the corrective work for the Javier Milei administration by devaluing the official currency from 361 to 400 pesos on Thursday, a considerable acceleration of over 10 percent from the creeping devaluation of a weekly one percent since mid-November. 



The incoming government of Javier Milei should apply a "strong and credible plan of stabilisation with political support in order to effectively attack the challenges of Argentina’s structural imbalances," International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesperson Julie Kozack said on Thursday. While underlining such problems as extremely high inflation and very low reserves in “a very fragile social context," Kozack considered that these problems required "a strong and credible Central Bank" to solve, as well as the creation of a "more prosperous private sector to lead growth." Growth also referred to last month’s meetings between IMF officials and leading members of Milei’s team, including future Economy minister Luis Caputo and Cabinet chief Nicolás Posse. Caputo is due to travel to Washington to converse with United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as soon as he is installed in the Economy Ministry.


X (ex-Twitter) magnate Elon Musk set the ball rolling with president-elect Javier Milei when he posted on Tuesday the libertarian’s interview with Jorge Asís, accompanied by an approving commentary of “Prosperity is ahead for Argentina,” prompting Milei to respond:  “We need to talk, Elon.” In the interview Milei quoted the economist Milton Friedman as saying: "When you place equality above liberty, you end up with neither. When you place liberty above equality, you get plenty of both." Prior to the election, Milei had already invited Musk to visit the country if he won, a visit which is considered by no means impossible.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rang president-elect Javier Milei last Monday to thank him for his declared intent to transfer the Argentine Embassy to Jerusalem and for his support in Israel’s war against Hamas, as well as congratulating him on his electoral victory and inviting him to visit Israel. Netanyahu further described Milei as "a true friend of the Jewish people." Milei had earlier spoken with Israeli President Isaac Herzog a few hours after winning the November 19 runoff. When violence erupted in the Gaza Strip, Milei accused the Foreign Ministry of being "soft on terrorism, with whom you don’t negotiate."


Analía Romero has emerged as the new judge for the bitterly contested Boca Juniors club elections after the previous magistrate Alejandra Débora Abrevaya decided to step aside after being successfully challenged. There is still a chance for the suspended elections to go ahead on December 17 although the club continues to insist on the 13,000 challenged members being allowed to vote.


Mountain-climbing has claimed at least four lives this week – three experienced Argentine mountaineers who were found dead on the Chilean side of Mount Marmolejo by Chilean soldiers and a tourist from the United States who died near El Chalten in Los Glaciares National Park. The three dead Argentines were Raúl Espir (55), the Juntos por el Cambio mayor of the La Pampa town of General San Martín who was re-elected last May with 63 percent of the vote, Sergio Berardo and Ignacio Javier Lucero (both 49), who formed part of a team of six in an expedition beginning last November 22. The bodies were close to the summit of the mountain, which is 6,108 metres high. The US tourist was Neha Malla, 40, whose body was found near the Laguna de las Mellizas” after a four-day search by over 100 people. An Army helicopter was awaiting favourable weather conditions to bring back her remains. The woman, who had broken off from a group trip to take a solo hike, was last seen near Mount Fitz Roy. 

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