Monday, June 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 23-06-2023 01:20

Stories that caught our eye: June 17 to 23

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



The deadline for defining candidacies for the August 13 PASO primaries expires at midnight tonight although almost nothing had been decided before midweek. Then on Wednesday PRO presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich asked Mendoza Radical deputy Luis Petri, 46, to be her running-mate, impressed by his surprisingly strong performance in the June 11 Mendoza primary as runner-up to ex-governor Alfredo Cornejo – outgoing Mendoza Governor Rodolfo Suárez, Buenos Aires Province’s Maximiliano Abad and Formosa Senator Luis Naidenoff (all Radicals) were considered but discarded. At almost the same time City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta named Republican Peronist leader Miguel Angel Pichetto (Mauricio Macri’s 2019 running-mate) to head his list of Congress for Buenos Aires Province with a view to becoming Speaker. Thursday saw Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner pick Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro and outgoing Tucumán Governor Juan Manzur as her preferred presidential ticket for the newly rebranded Unión por la Patria with many more decisions yet to come.  



The passage of a constitutional reform by Jujuy’s Radical government prohibiting roadblocks and limiting rights to protest met with a violent response on Tuesday from activists armed with sticks, stones and oil cans to torch the Legislature, destroying some offices. The provincial police reacted forcefully to quell the riot with tear gas and rubber bullets. The upshot was 70 people injured (including 42 policemen) with 58 arrests. Jujuy Radical Governor Gerardo Morales scrapped two clauses of the reform governing indigenous rights in a vain attempt to defuse the tension. The Juntos por el Cambio opposition leadership unanimously held Kirchnerite elements in the government responsible for fomenting the violence with rival PRO presidential hopefuls Patricia Bullrich and City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta making a rare joint appearance side by side. The next day Kirchnerite groupings including La Cámpora, picket organisations and trade unions held a downtown protest in this city to protest the repression and the constitutional reform, seriously snarling traffic.



Three-term Chaco Peronist Governor Jorge Capitanich crashed to defeat in last Sunday’s PASO primary with the June 1 disappearance of Cecilia Strzyzowski in the home of his key picket ally Emerenciano Sena surely a major factor in the result. Capitanich’s Frente Chaqueña polled 36.8 percent of the vote, plunging from over 300,000 votes in 2019 to under 200,000 last Sunday, as against a combined Juntos por el Cambio vote of 42.6 percent for two Radical hopefuls, of whom Leandro Zdero emerged as Capitanic’s challenger for the upcoming September 17 provincial elections. Meanwhile Cecilia Strzyzowski remained missing at press time although on Tuesday human remains were found on one of the properties of her detained Sena in-laws.



The Néstor Kirchner pipeline was duly launched on Flag Day last Tuesday on the eve of winter but with rather less fanfare than originally planned, taking the form of a simple worker opening a valve to permit the liquid gas to flow the first 29 kilometres of the pipeline – the official inauguration is now scheduled for Independence Day on July 9. The remaining 544 kilometres taking Vaca Muerta shale gas up to Salliqueló, Buenos Aires Province, will be activated in five stages, the last comprising half the pipeline on the eve of the inauguration. Opinions were divided as to whether the delay was for technical or political reasons since the ruling Unión por la Patria had no official candidates confirmed last Tuesday ahead of today’s deadline for defining candidacies. Economy Minister Sergio Massa said that the project had “made the impossible possible” by doing the work of two years in eight months, underlining that “it was Argentine companies which carried out this work when they said it could only be done by international firms.” The pipeline is estimated to save the country US$1.7 billion in fuel imports this year and US$4 billion next.



The suspected Russian spies arrested early this year in Slovenia and resident in Argentina until last year have been identified, according to a Federal Police report delivered to federal judge María Servini de Cubría at the start of the week. Registered at their Belgrano address in O’Higgins street as Austrians Ludwig Gisch and María Rosa Mayer Muños, their real names were given as Artem Viktorovich Dultsev and Anna Valerevna Dultseva, both 42 and respectively born in the Russian autonomous republic of Bashkortostan (just north of Kazakhstan) and the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The couple remain detained in maximum security cells in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana with nobody claiming custody of their Argentine-born and Spanish-speaking children aged seven and nine. Under their false identities “Gisch” ran a security software startup while “Mayer” opened an Internet art gallery.



Leonardo Barone, the pilot who controversially buzzed the Casa Rosada and Jorge Newbery Aeroparque with the brand-new presidential aircraft ARG-01 on its maiden flight on May 25, presented his resignation to presidential chief-of-staff Julio Vitobello on Wednesday. Barone denied that his manoeuvre only 45 metres above the ground in heavy rainfall had placed the aircraft, which cost US$25 million, at risk at any point or was any crime but admitted that it might have caused "a political headache" at a sensitive time. Between this controversial flight and his resignation Barone flew Economy Minister Sergio Massa and an entourage including Máximo Kirchner to China.



Prosecutor Guillermo Pérez de la Fuente on Thursday requested life imprisonment for three City policemen who gunned down 17-year-old Lucas González in Barracas late 2021. After requesting the maximum sentence for Gabriel Issasi, Fabián López and Juan José Nieva, the prosecutor has now to decide what to do with 11 other police co-defendants accused of covering up the crime, who could face sentences of between 20 and 30 years. Last week the plaintiff’s lawyer Gregorio Dalbón had also called for life imprisonment for premeditated homicide aggravated by racial hatred.



Former Buenos Aires Herald editor Robert Cox was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by Rosario University yesterday morning for his crusading journalism during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. First arriving in Argentina at the age of 26 in 1959, the Ealing-born journalist lived and worked here for two decades until the military dictatorship forced him out in 1979 for making the Herald the first medium to openly and systematically chronicle the disappearance of persons, a stance which cost him a 1977 arrest. Exiled to the United States, he has made regular returns to the country, making news during at least two of them – decorated by the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires “in the name of the missing” in 2005 and testifying in court on baby-snatching during the dictatorship in 2011 when he denounced the “self-censorship” of the media as complicity.



The Don Julio steakhouse in Palermo has been chosen as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world, occupying 19th place in a list headed by Central of Lima, Peru (second last year). Latin America led the field with 11 of the 50 restaurants as against seven for Asia and six for Spain, the host country for the award ceremony in Valencia.

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