MASSA & MÁXIMO ON TOUR
Accompanied by a large delegation including deputy Máximo Kirchner, Economy Minister Sergio Massa headed out on Sunday night to China with the aim of reaching there financial, mining, energy and commercial agreements. Arriving on Tuesday, the mission spent three days in the business centre of Shanghai, followed by two days in the Chinese capital of Beijing with a busy agenda of working meetings in both cities. Chinese investment in Patagonian hydro-electric dams, lithium, currency swaps, export financing from the BRICS New Development Bank (headed by Brazilian ex-president Dilma Rousseff) and Chinese support for both Argentine exports and infrastructural projects in general were the focal points of these meetings.
‘REGIONAL’ RESET OR ROW?
President Alberto Fernández flew to Brasília on Monday night, accompanied by his Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero, to participate in the relaunch of Unasur where he controversially joined his host Luis Inácio Lula Da Silva in advocating the return of Venezuela to both the aforementioned bloc and Mercosur while warmly greeting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, also present in Brasilia. This stance was criticised by both some South American presidents and the opposition back home. The presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Uruguay and Surinam all attended, apart from the above three.
FROM SLUMS TO THE VATICAN
Pope Francis has made the surprise choice of lifelong slum priest and Río Gallegos bishop Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva, 55, to replace Buenos Aires Cardinal-Archbishop Mario Poli, 75, whose resignation he accepted the day after Poli gave his last national day Te Deum in the Metropolitan Cathedral on May 25. Born in Río Gallegos, García Cuerva was ordained in 1997 following university studies in Church history and law, but spent much of his clerical career in the San Isidro shantytown of La Cava and also as a prison chaplain before being named by Francis to the Río Gallegos diocese early in 2019. One of his first challenges will be to organise the papal visit expected next year. In an interview published Wednesday the new archbishop denied being Kirchnerite despite his Santa Cruz connections and shantytown work while recognising efforts to pigeonhole him as such, pointing to friendships with leading PRO politicians.
City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta made two high-profile announcements last Tuesday. Firstly, he confirmed that his Government Minister Jorge Macri would be PRO centre-right party’s sole mayoral candidate in this city, relegating Health Minister Fernán Quirós – Macri followed up the announcement by formalising his resignation as Vicente López mayor. Secondly, Rodríguez Larreta officially authorised the police use of Taser stun guns, also blasting the national government and Kirchnerism for rejecting these weapons while producing no solutions to the crime problem themselves.
RED CARD FOR UÑAC
The Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed last month’s ruling on the ineligibility of outgoing San Juan Peronist Governor Sergio Uñac for reelection, following their previous May 10 ruling being upheld by Attorney-General Eduardo Casal, who declared Uñac’s aspirations to a third consecutive term to be unconstitutional. Formosa Peronist Governor Gildo Insfrán now seeking an eighth consecutive term could be the next to run afoul of the supreme tribunal.
Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi formally launched his presidential bid via the social networks last Monday, promising to resolve the problems of “inflation, insecurity and uncertainty” (all three words prefixed with an “in” in Spanish). “I want to be President to guarantee economic growth in the next few years and its redistribution among all Argentines,” affirmed Rossi in his six-minute video speech, also promising a rapid return to “those happy years we had in the governments of Néstor and Cristina.” The only declared hopefuls so far are Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli (whose running-mate will be Social Development Minister Victoria Tolosa Paz, as she herself announced on Thursday) and social leader Juan Grabois although Ministers Sergio Massa (Economy) and Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro (Interior) are frequently tipped for the Frente de Todos presidential nomination.
LOCAL VOTING IN CORDOBA
A total of 29 of Córdoba’s 427 municipalities (of which 227 will be accompanying the provincial elections on June 25 with others voting through to July 23) elected their new authorities last Sunday. The Peronists held 13 of these 29 districts while losing two to Juntos por el Cambio who held onto six themselves while independents were elected unopposed in the eight remaining districts.
SABAG MONTIEL: I’M A LONE WOLF
From his prison cell, Fernando Sabag Montiel, the man who aimed a gun at Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner last September 1, denied being a hitman hired by ex-president Mauricio Macri, libertarian leader Javier Milei or the Revolución Federal extreme right grouping. He also denied knowing Juntos por el Cambio deputy Gerardo Milman, pinpointed by his target as a key element in a plot to kill her, and even that his co-defendants Brenda Uliarte and Nicolás Gabriel Carrizo had anything to do with the assassination attempt.
Curuzú Cuatiá prosecutor María José Barrero Sahagún investigating the femicide of journalist Griselda Blanco in the Corrientes town a fortnight ago is now suggesting that the victim was blackmailing local businessman Darío Holzweissig, 46, (arrested for the crime on May 25) while not ruling out Blanco’s former partner Armando Jara (detained and later released) and denying that investigators had come up with any solid evidence linking the murder to the reporter’s investigative journalism.
STATESIDE FROM AEROPARQUE
Aerolíneas Argentinas has announced that it will be flying to two of the most sought-after destinations by Argentines in the United States with departures from Jorge Newbery airport. The flights to Miami and New York will start on August 7. Tickets are not yet available.
COSTLY BOMB HOAX
Air hostess Daniela Carbone, 47, whose bogus bomb threat caused Flight AR1304 to Miami to be delayed seven hours and cost Aerolíneas Argentinas an estimated US$1 million (from the evacuation of the 270 passengers, the search for explosives and rescheduling), appeared in court on Tuesday after being arrested last Sunday on charges of public intimidation and disrupting a public service. Although it is not clear whether she will go to prison, she stands to lose her job.
NEW CHARGES IN PROVOLO SCANDAL
Prosecutors have requested a prison sentence of 25 years for the nun Kumiko Kosaka for six counts of sexual abuse at the Antonio Próvolo Institute for deaf-mute children in Mendoza. Two priests have already been sentenced to more than 40 years in the same case.
THE KIDS AREN’T ALRIGHT
Argentina’s under 20-team cleared a weak Group A but then crashed out of the World Cup by losing 2-0 to Nigeria in San Juan in midweek with an active but ineffective forward line and a sloppy defence. Javier Mascherano’s squad thus missed out on their good fortune after failing to qualify but then hosting the tournament instead of Indonesia, disqualified for refusing to admit Israel (who did reach the quarter-finals this week). On the same day England lost 2-1 to Italy.
LAUTARO TIES KNOT
Argentine national team and Internazionale Milan striker Lautaro Martínez formalised his relationship with Agustina Gandolfo in a Lake Como wedding last Monday, less than a fortnight before he is due to play in the Champions League final against Manchester City. The bride is expecting a son Theo with a girl Nina already born to the couple. Seven of the groom’s 25 teammates winning the World Cup in Qatar last December attended the wedding: goalies Emiliano Martínez and Gerónimo Rulli, Nicolás Tagliafico, Alexis MacAllister, Enzo Fernández, Joaquín Correa (also Inter) and Nicolás González.
As from last Thursday, Argentina has its first economic news cable television channel – Editorial Perfil’s Canal E, launched from the Bolsa stock exchange last Tuesday to join the multimedia company’s Net and Bravo TV channels. As Perfil seeks to do across its media spectrum, the new channel will aim to steer clear of polarisation in supplying business and economic information. The inaugural speech at the Bolsa launch was given by Grupo Perfil CEO Jorge Fontevecchia, with City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi and Bolsa President Adelmo Gobbi also addressing an audience of top politicians, businessmen and other VIPS.