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ARGENTINA | 12-05-2023 12:50

Stories that caught our eye: May 5 to 12

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

 

SUPREME COURT RUCKUS

Three of the fourSupreme Court justices (with Ricardo Lorenzetti abstaining) ruled last Tuesday that San Juan and Tucumán Governors Sergio Uñac and Juan Manzur were exceeding constitutional limits in seeking a fourth and fifth consecutive place on gubernatorial tickets respectively. Uñac accepted the ruling while criticising the Supreme Court for suspending the electoral process so late in the day with San Juan elections going ahead tomorrow minus gubernatorial voting but Tucumán suspended its provincial elections altogether. The strongest reaction came from President Alberto Fernández who delivered a nationwide broadcast the following day in which he accused the “anti-democratic” Supreme Court of “steamrollering” federalism by singling out two Peronist provinces and assured that their latest ruling would be  incorporated into the impeachment of the justices, as well as urging  Congress to expand the highest tribunal. The President further blasted Supreme Court Chief Justice Horacio Rosatti for criticising the excessive printing of money at the Amcham annual general meeting on the same day as the ruling. The presidential critique was echoed by Ministers Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro (Interior) and Martín Soria (Justice) while on Thursday Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi asserted within a general report to the Senate that the Supreme Court justices were part of the “judicial party.”

 

THREE-WAY SPLIT

Last Sunday’s voting in Misiones, Jujuy and La Rioja resulted in comfortable victories for the incumbent provincial governments with no clear advantage for any national coalition because the re-election of Peronist Ricardo Quintela in La Rioja celebrated by Frente de Todos was countered by the triumph of Radical Carlos Sadir in Jujuy favouring Juntos por el Cambio while the biggest win of the night in Misiones by the theoretically neutral Frente Renovador de la Concordia, with 2015-2019 governor Hugo Passalacqua returning to the helm could not be claimed by either coalition. City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Senator Martín Lousteau joined outgoing Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales on Sunday night to celebrate the Radical triumph. President Alberto Fernández travelled to La Rioja to salute Quintela’s victory in difficult times for Frente de Todos. In Misiones Passalacqua harshly criticised centralism in his victory speech. Salta, La Pampa, Tierra del Fuego, Tucumán and San Juan were all originally scheduled to vote tomorrow but last Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling has complicated the elections in the latter two cases. 

 

CITY INFLATION

Last month’s inflation in this city was 7.8 percent with a 10.4 percent surge in food prices, City Hall statisticians reported on Monday, thus resulting in a total of 31.2 percent for the first third of the year and an annual inflation of 110.4 percent. These figures surpassed estimates of prívate consultants where April inflation averaged out at 7.5 percent. With an annual inflation of 119.5 percent, food prices are now rising faster than any other sector except “restaurants and hotels” (130.9 percent and 8.2 percent last month). Meat (11.5 percent) and vegetables (19.9 percent) were prime contributors to the surge in food prices. Garments were another leading culprit with prices rising 9.4 percent. Domestic appliances (9.3 percent) and transport (8.1 percent) were the only other items to top the average in April. 

 

PENSION HIKE

Economy Minister Sergio Massa and ANSES social security administration head Fernanda Raverta on Wednesday announced that the next quarterly increase for pensions would be 20.92 percent, to be paid as from midyear. Massa pointed out that pensions had risen by 130 percent in the past year, ahead of inflation, although this only applies to those receiving the special bonuses.

 

CRISTINA SPEAKS HER MIND

Not for the first time, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was in the news on several fronts last week. At the start of the week she racked up her suspicions of PRO presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich as being behind the September 1 attempt on her life, pointing to Bullrich cleaning out her mobile telephone and citing the statements of a Brazilian deputy as her evidence. Also on Monday President Alberto Fernández echoed these charges while in La Rioja congratulating local Governor Ricardo Quintela on his re-election but City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta sprang to the defence of his internal rival, saying “enough of conspiracy theories” and that politicians had no business intervening in court investigations. Bullrich herself denied the charges, saying that Kirchnerism did not know what to invent next. In a separate development, the Federal Cassation Court judges Gustavo Hornos and Mariano Borinsky on Wednesday rejected the veep’s challenge of their right to review the trial of Santa Cruz highway contract corruption, which last December banned her from public office and sentenced her to six years imprisonment. Finally, while heading the Senate session to hear the report of Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi last Thursday, the former two-term president accused Radical Senator Martín Lousteau of ruining her presidency while her Economy minister in 2008 with his controversial sliding scale for grain export duties.

 

BANK RAIDS

Judge Pablo Yadarola last Tuesday ordered court raids on some 20 banks to investigate suspected irregularities in import and export transactions, especially involving electronics, in order to obtain over US$700 million from the Central Bank at favourable exchange rates for highly profitable resale on parallel markets. Customs and AFIP tax bureau officials and Border Guard officers using police dogs carried out the raids on  Wednesday looking for fake import and export companies with 46 firms under investigation. The charges are “aggravated contraband, tax evasion and money-laundering.”

 

PULITZER PRIZE

Argentine writer Hernán Díaz, 50, who grew up in Swedish exile and has been living in the United States for the past few decades, last Monday won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Trust, a success helped by the praise of former US president Barack Obama and The New York Times, which listed his work among last year’s best books. Published in Spanish under the title Fortuna and circulating at the ongoing Book Fair in Palermo, this novel on financial capitalism in the early 20th century is already being turned into a television series starring Kate Winslet.

 

BOOK FAIR

Canadian author Nita Prose presented her best-selling novel The Maid at the Book Fair last Monday. Prose had spent two decades in the publishing industry before turning her hand to writing literature herself. 

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