Tuesday, June 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 30-06-2023 10:44

Stories that caught our eye: June 23 to 30

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



The deadline for registering candidacies for next month’s PASO primaries duly expired at midnight last Saturday with thousands of names filed nationwide. There were various last-minute surprises, of which the biggest occurred in the ruling coalition – Unión por la Patria will have a contested primary but not between Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro and 2015 presidential candidate Daniel Scioli, as expected until just hours beforehand, but between Economy Minister Sergio Massa (with Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi as his running-mate) and social leader Juan Grabois. The competition in the main opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio will be City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta with outgoing Jujuy Radical Governor Gerardo Morales against a Patricia Bullrich/Luis Petri ticket. Javier Milei will be the libertarian dark horse while outgoing Cordoba Governor Juan Schiaretti heads the non-Kirchnerite Peronist Hacemos por Nuestro País. There are no less than four leftist presidential hopefuls (Myriam Bregman, Gabriel Solano, Manuela Castañeira and Marcelo Ramal) with two fringe candidates (Guillermo Moreno of Principios y Valores and Jesús Escobar of Libres del Sur) and extreme rightist César Biondini rounding out the 13 names seeking the top job. De Pedro and Máximo Kirchner respectively will top the senatorial and Congress lists for the government in Buenos Aires Province whose Governor Axel Kicillof will seek re-election with PRO hopefuls Diego Santilli (for Rodríguez Larreta) and Néstor Grindetti (Bullrich) his main competition. PRO’s Jorge Macri, Radical Senator Martín Lousteau and Leandro Santoro for the government are the leading City mayoral hopefuls.



Last Sunday’s elections in two provinces of contrasting size, Córdoba with almost three million voters (2,984,631) and Formosa with under half a million (479,879), also had contrasting results. While Córdoba City Mayor Martín Llaryora (42.8 percent) advanced to provincial governor by edging PRO’s Luis Juez (39.8 percent) with the latter ahead in much of the election night and refusing to recognise defeat until late in the week, Formosa Peronist Governor Gildo Insfrán romped to a record eighth term with just shy of 70 percent and almost half the total vote ahead of his main rival – Radical deputy Fernando Carbajal representing the Frente Amplio Formaseño opposition umbrella with 20.2 percent while libertarian-leaning rancher Francisco Paoltroni fell just short of double digits. The polarised Córdoba race squeezed out the other nine gubernatorial candidates, including the Kirchnerite and the libertarian who both barely topped two percent, well behind a blank vote of almost five percent.



The Skyvan PA-51 aircraft used to throw a dozen leading opponents of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship into the sea in late 1977 (including three founding members of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and two French nuns) returned to this country on Monday as the climax of an initiative beginning in March, 2020. Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, five ministers (including Economy Minister and presidential hopeful Sergio Massa), Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi, Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo president Estela Barnes de Carlotto were among those attending the ceremony to mark the historic return of the sinister aircraft dating back to 1971.



On the instructions of President Alberto Fernández, Justice Minister Martín Soria yesterday asked the Supreme Court to declare Jujuy’s reform of its provincial constitution (which caused serious incidents last month) unconstitutional, as anticipated by presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti to Noticias Argentinas news agency on Thursday. An  "intervention" of the Jujuy branch of the Justicialist [Peronist] Party is not ruled out since most of its provincial deputies voted in favour of the constitutional reform pushed by Jujuy Radical Governor Gerardo Morales.


Both sides of Argentina’s grieta political chasm converged in expressing sympathy with a disabled candidate subject to discriminatory remarks but while PRO’s Franco Rinaldi running for the City legislature was happy to be photographed with his party’s mayoral hopeful Jorge Macri, he criticised Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro’s expressions of solidarity as “political exploitation.” Lucas Luna, a Parlasur hopeful for La Libertad Avanza headed by libertarian deputy Javier Milei, had tweeted: “Nobody wants to vote for a handicapped person” – last Tuesday he felt obliged to relinquish his candidacy with a public apology because of the ensuing uproar. De Pedro, whose militancy on behalf of equal rights has been enhanced by his own personal history of stammering, tweeted in response: “I deplore the discriminatory words of the libertarian candidate Lucas Luna towards PRO candidate Franco Rinaldi. This goes beyond politics to harm the values and integration of a pluralistic society. His lack of empathy prevents him from seeing the pain and suffering he might cause others.” Franco Rinaldi, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta (or brittle bones), replied in turn: “I send Wado a hug and tell him: let’s not get into political opportunism. People may want to vote for me or not, regardless of my pathology,” adding that Luna had also contacted him in private to apologise. The PRO political scientist further recalled the success stories of handicapped persons such as Daniel Scioli, Gabriela Michetti and Franklin D. Roosevelt, before warning. “There is a bunch of kids who are overdoing the politically incorrect but being discriminatory is not OK and leads to errors.”



Peso deposits in the private sector last May remained stable in real terms when measured against the same month last year while loans have been on the rise since March, a report by Adeba (Asociación de Bancos Argentinos) has revealed. The deposits registered a nominal increase of 7.5 percent and 114 percent year-on-year but dipped 0.3 percent in real terms. Commercial loans represent 40 percent of the total, credit cards 29 percent, personal borrowing 15 percent and guaranteed loans 11 percent. Bouncing cheques were less than one percent of an April total of 4.4 million, equivalent to 2.6 billion pesos. There are over 28 million credit cards in use, over 75 million debit cards, more than 73 million saving accounts in pesos and over 7.5 million current accounts. In general, Adeba noted high levels of liquidity in the financial system.



Three months after the death of María Kodama, the widow of Jorge Luis Borges, civil judge Alejandra Abrevaya last Tuesday passed the great writer’s literary estate and other assets to her two nephews and three nieces, the children of her brother Jorge Kodama. But the ruling still has to withstand the challenge of an injunction by ex-president (for a few hours in 2015) Federico Pinedo, among others, calling for the Borges estate to form part of the cultural heritage of the City of Buenos Aires, a lawsuit which has been appealed by the Kodama family lawyer Fernando Soto.



Following a unanimous Supreme Court ruling upholding Santiago O’Donnell’s rights to protect the identity of his sources for his book Hermano (referring to ex-president Mauricio Macri’s brother Mariano who had demanded the handover of the corresponding tapes), the Página/12 journalist thanked the top tribunal for its support, describing their ruling as “a great triumph.” Mariano Macri had won his case against O’Donnell in the first instance in 2020. In a series of tweets last Tuesday, O’Donnell termed the ruling a victory “against the harassment of journalism via civil law and hence for the freedom of expression” and further called it “above all a collective achievement,” naming a number of press associations, before concluding by demanding the release of WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange, currently detained in Britain.



Seven Argentine communities have been shortlisted among 100 worldwide to compete in the ‘Best Tourism Villages’ competition of the World Tourism Organisation with the winner to be announced at the end of the year. The seven consist of four in the Patagonian south, two in the north and one in the west. From north to south, the villages are Yavi (Jujuy), Laguna Blanca (Catamarca), La Carolina (San Luis), Gaiman (Chubut), Villa Traful (Neuquén), Los Antiguos (Santa Cruz) and Tolhuin (Tierra del Fuego). 



For once Lionel Messi was one of the younger players in last Sunday’s farewell tribute match to Boca Juniors great Juan Román Riquelme at the Bombonera stadium where mostly veteran players of the national squad (including its current trainer Lionel Scaloni) took the field against past glories of Boca. The result (not that anybody really cared) was a 5-3 victory for Boca with goals from both Riquelme and Messi.

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