As from last weekend the big noise in the media throughout most of last week was a Venezuelan cargo aircraft with five Iranian crew members stranded at Ezeiza airport because no oil company would fuel it due to fear of international sanctions. Speculation immediately ran riot as to whether the aeroplane carrying auto parts had a hidden agenda of terrorism or espionage (especially given the oversized crew of 19) while the opposition was quick to criticise the government’s longstanding links with Iran and Venezuela, as well as the negligence of intelligence. Some contraband including drug-trafficking was also suspected, given the inclusion of the Triple Frontier in the aircraft’s flight map with the alert as to its presence here reportedly coming from Paraguay.
Ahead of yesterday’s public holiday, an unusually turbulent week on money markets closed on Thursday with the “blue” parallel dollar at 216 pesos after reaching as high as 225 pesos earlier in the week. The official exchange rate, as quoted by Banco Nación, was 127.75 pesos or 210.79 pesos for tourists and savers if the 65 percent surcharges are added. The parallel but legal exchange rates of CCL (contado con liquidación) and the dólar bolsa or MEP were 241.57 and 231.73 pesos respectively while country risk closed at 2,140 bonds. Market experts attributed the turbulence to a loss of confidence in the government’s ability to honour index-linked bonds with last month’s inflation posted at 5.1 percent last Tuesday, an annual rate of 60.7 percent and 29.3 percent thus far this year, even if down against March and April. Health and transport costs both topped six percent as leading culprits.
PIPELINE OBSTACLES CLEARED
Two obstacles recently arising to construction of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline were both rapidly cleared on Thursday – the IEASA state energy agency signed a contract with the multinational Techint to purchase the metal casing for some US$500 million and federal judge Daniel Rafecas shelved the corruption case lodged against the project after ruling any crime to be “non-existent.” The Techint agreement stipulates 582 kilometres of tubing with a diameter of 36 inches and 74 kilometres of 30 inches. The obstacles arose from objections presented by former Productive Development Minister Matías Kulfas which cost him his post. Kulfas later backtracked when testifying to Rafecas, which influenced the judge’s 222-page ruling. Rafecas also took into consideration the urgency of the project for import substitution in accelerating his decision.
The 40th anniversary of the end of the South Atlantic war, or "Liberation Day" as it is dubbed in London, was marked on Tuesday, more by the winning side than here. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ratified the right of the Kelpers to self-determination and said that Britain would always face up to "threats to the freedom and sovereignty" of the islands. Malvinas military governor Mario Benjamín Menéndez capitulated to British General Jeremy Moore 40 years ago last Tuesday.
ALBERTO @ ACTO
President Alberto Fernández on Thursday headed a ceremony to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Plaza de Mayo by naval aviation in the last months of Juan Domingo Perón’s first regime, an atrocity leaving over 350 dead and 1,200 wounded. President Fernández received a petition to make June 16 “a day of national mourning” and promised to turn it into reality.
Auditor-General Miguel Ángel Pichetto, Mauricio Macri’s 2015 running-mate, on Tuesday threw his hat into the ring as a Peronist Republican presidential hopeful in next year’s elections within the Juntos por el Cambio opposition coalition. Casting modesty aside, he declared: "The only candidate prepared to govern Argentina is me. I have experience of political and institutional life." Pichetto will be facing rivals from both PRO (City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and party chair Patricia Bullrich) and the Radicals (Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales and deputy Facundo Manes).
POPE ON UKRAINE
Pope Francis was outspoken on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in a long conversation with fellow-Jesuits in the Vatican last Tuesday, affirming that “the Third World War has been declared” and suggesting that the Russian invasion was ”perhaps somehow provoked … by NATO moves (expanding to the east),” adding:”You have to get away from the normal pattern of Little Red Riding Hood being good and the wolf bad. Something global is arising with strongly interlinked elements.” Anticipating criticism of being soft on Russia, the Argentine pontiff then continued: “Somebody could say at this point: “But you’re in favour of (Vladimir) Putin!” No, I’m not. It would be simplistic and erroneous to say such a thing. I’m simply against reducing the complexity to the distinction between good and evil without thinking of the roots and interests, which are very complex. While we see the ferocity and cruelty of the Russian troops, we must not forget the problems while trying to solve them.” He further praised the courage of the Ukrainians and reaffirmed their right to defend themselves while criticising the financial interests of the armaments industries. Pope Francis also confirmed that he hopes to meet the Russian Orthodox patriarch Kirill, who has justified the war. Finally, the Pope reminded the world that there were wars in other places such as much of Africa and Myanmar in “a world at war.”
WORLD CUP 2030 BID
Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay ratified last Thursday their candidacy to hold the 2030 World Cup, which would mark the centenary of the very first World Cup held in Uruguay in 1930. The countries appealed to the prestige of South American football rather than their region’s economic clout to justify their candidacy.
The charges of rape and sexual abuse against Sebastián Villa, the Colombian star of Boca Juniors, were backed by a tearfully detailed account last Tuesday by Tamara Doldán, the woman making them. Doldán claimed that friends of the player had offered her US$5,000 not to press the charges last year. The courts continue to resist the requests for Villa’s arrest.
NEW PARKING RULES
City Hall has presented a bill to clarify the regulation of parking (the cause of 56 percent of traffic offences). Parking is now to be permitted on both sides of the street but banned on either side of avenues between 7am and 9pm, as well as streets with bicycle lanes or Metrobus. Parking is also permitted on the right-hand side of one-way streets and avenues but not on the left.