TENSIONS AS CRISTINA LETS RIP
Presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti responded last Thursday to Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s fiery Flag Day speech denouncing a "festival of imports," denying that there was any such thing and maintaining that the balance of trade was highly favourable and observing that industrial activity rose 8.1 percent last month, thus necessitating more imports.” Argentina as a whole was growing with 22 straight months of growth for the knowledge industries and energy output up, she insisted. But redistributing growth to combat structural poverty was central, she added, including better pay as well as more jobs. In her closely watched speech Fernández de Kirchner blamed inflation on the "criminal" debt run up by the previous Mauricio Macri Presidency and approved by the International Monetary Fund while also blasting massive tax evasion. She ruled out either the fiscal deficit or the expansion of the money supply as causes of inflation, arguing that that most developed countries were worse. The vice-president mentioned the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing “war between Russia and Ukraine” as further problems. Macri was further accused of reducing worker earnings from 51 percent of gross domestic product in 2015 to 42 percent now. Nor did the Supreme Court escape criticism.
Argentina’s economy grew six percent in the first quarter of this year by comparison with the first quarter of 2021 while unemployment remained stable at seven percent and underemployment dipped from 12.1 to 10 percent, the INDEC national statistics bureau announced on Thursday.
100,000 TO NOT BE POOR
A family of four needs a monthly income just shy of six digits (99,676.85 pesos, to be exact) not to fall below the poverty line, INDEC announced on the first day of winter last Tuesday, while 44,498.60 pesos is needed to escape destitution. The former threshold has thus risen 54.66 percent in the past year and 30.9 percent so far this year while the respective figures for the latter threshold are 62.26 and 35 percent, reflecting the higher rises in food prices. The poverty figure for the first half of this year is thus expected to top the 37.3 percent posted for the second half of 2021.
MALVINAS CLAIM REITERATED
Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero addressed a special session of the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in New York last Thursday, reaffirming Argentina’s historic claims to Malvinas sovereignty. Deploring the "anachronism” of colonialism, Cafiero called on Britain "to shed its fear of peace and dialogue within international law," insisting that might does not make right in the form of military victory in a reference to the 1982 South Atlantic war four decades ago. The minister rubbished any claim to self-determination on the part of the island population, calling it "the result of the colonisation begun in 1833." He continued rhetorically: "For the United Kingdom the Malvinas are domination, speculation and opportunism while for my country they are sovereignty, justice and grief for our fallen” before concluding by expressing concern about the presence of British nuclear arms on the islands. His intervention was preceded by Leona Roberts and Gavin Short representing the island authorities, who reiterated the case for self-determination.
MILEI LOVES MAGGIE
Libertarian deputy Javier Milei, in Colombia for the closing stages of last weekend’s election, had rare praise for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, curiously timed for only a week after the 40th anniversary of her triumph in the 1982 South Atlantic War. “I feel very identified in historic terms, basically with [Winston] Churchill, [Ronald] Reagan and [Margaret] Thatcher,” he told the Colombian news magazine Semana, praising the Iron Lady for her determination in setting out to win the war and insisting that he would prefer her to Argentine 1982 wartime leader Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri although he also upheld the legitimacy of Argentine claims to the Malvinas. Milei further praised Thatcher for bringing down British inflation from an annual 20 percent as from 1979 and standing up to strikers. The libertarian did not speculate as to how this admiration for Thatcher might affect his sliding opinion polls, towards which in any case he expressed indifference, standing by his controversial statements on organ sales and unrestricted gun possession.
SQUATTERS BILL IN WORKS
Accompanied by numerous other Juntos por el Cambio deputies, Juan Martín (Radical-Santa Fe) submitted a bill last Tuesday to amend the Criminal Procedural Code to accelerate the return of illegally occupied land to its rightful owners. The bill, which does not address the country’s acute housing shortage although deploring "the inefficiency of public policy to resolve it," was intended to accompany last Wednesday’s lower house debate on rental legislation.
A VERY DEEP GAFFE
The latest gaffe of President Alberto Fernández occurred last Monday when he introduced the social militant Ignacio Levy from the La Garganta Poderosa grouping as “a comrade of Garganta Profunda,” the name of the pioneering 1972 porn film Deep Throat in Spanish, followed immediately by a jocular correction: “Profunda (“deep”) no, poderosa (“powerful”). But also deep because the truth is that those mags taught us things which we did not find out through other media.” The gaffe came within an attempted presidential defence of the social organisations, whose control of welfare benefits had been fiercely questioned by Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner earlier that day.
IN COLD BLOOD
Celebrating his 30th birthday over the long Flag Day weekend in his native Mar del Plata, Martín Mora Negretti paid a high for remonstrating with a group of youngsters chucking down ice from a 7th floor balcony in the wintry weather when four of them descended into the street to stab him to death in the small hours of Sunday, also wounding his brother. The police later arrested a woman of 23 and three teenagers aged between 13 and 15.
TRAGIC FIRE IN RECOLETA
At least five members of the well-known Jewish Jabbaz family perished from a fire in their Commune 2 (Ecuador y Córdoba) fire in their apartment last Thursday morning. Most or even all of them died from carbon monoxide poisoning rather than burns with at least 35 people inhaling toxic quantities of the gas.
Suspected Bajo Flores drug lord Marco Estrada González was deported last Wednesday.
There was a diplomatic incident in Spain this week as administrative staff of the Argentine consulate in Barcelona last Wednesday announced a strike to press for better pay.