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ARGENTINA | 10-11-2023 16:14

Stories that caught our eye: November 3 to 10

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

 

VEEPS CLASH

Vice-presidential candidates Agustín Rossi (Unión por la Patria) and Victoria Villarruel (La Libertad Avanza) held a tense televised debate on Wednesday night. The economy, crime, the future of public education and human rights were the issues sparking the fiercest clashes with Villarruel hammering hardest over corruption and the economic crisis (nor did she omit the latest illegal espionage scandal centred on ex-policeman Ariel Zanchetta) while Rossi berated libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei for calling his Juntos por el Cambio rival Patricia Bullrich a “Montonero bomb-thrower” one day and then agreeing with her “90 percent” the next.

 

ILLEGAL ESPIONAGE SCANDAL

Government deputies abruptly lifted Wednesday’s session of the lower house Impeachment Committee in order to prevent Frente de Todos deputy Rodolfo Tailhade, a key figure in the committee’s offensive against Supreme Court justices, from coming under opposition fire over the scandal arising from his links with retired policeman Ariel Zanchetta, who was arrested last Monday after his illegal espionage on judges and politicians was exposed. Committee chair Carolina Gaillard (Frente de Todos-Entre Ríos) used the session being shunned by Supreme Court justices Ricardo Lorenzetti and Juan Carlos Maqueda as a pretext for lifting it, thus sparking strong criticism from opposition deputies. Zanchetta’s activities are not only linked to Tailhade but also to AFIP tax bureau deputy director Fabián “Conu (for Conurbano as an Avellaneda resident)” Rodríguez, a La Cámpora militant. Previously, at the request of Unión por la Patria presidential candidate Sergio Massa, the committee had already decided to postpone signing the accusations against the Supreme Court justices until after next Sunday’s run-off.

 

STOP THE MADNESS

La Libertad Avanza presidential candidate Javier Milei came under fire both from home and abroad last week as government officials spearheaded a “FrenemosLaLocura” (“Stop the Madness”) hashtag campaign against him while the prestigious academic journal Nature criticised his proposal to shutter the CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) scientific research council, which funds some 12,000 researchers at an annual cost of US$400 million, in an article which was nevertheless not uncritical of the Alberto Fernández administration. Re-elected Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof joined the “FrenemosLaLocura” campaign with a defence of social justice.

 

LIBERTARIAN DENOUNCED

Banker Juan Nápoli, the La Libertad Avanza senatorial rival of Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro in Buenos Aires Province last month, has been accused by his now ex-lover Laura Vázquez of extortion and leaking the audios which complicated the campaign of Juntos por el Cambio economist Carlos Melconian by implying that he offered employment in exchange for sexual favours, allegedly obtaining the tapes via his intelligence contacts. Apart from his candidacy, Nápoli was a key contact with the outside world for libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei, making an extended trip to New York last September in a hunt for investments and dollars to fund dollarisation. As for Melconian, the Fundación Mediterránea think tank decided before last weekend not to renew his contract to draft a comprehensive economic programme for Argentina, which had been adopted by the defeated Juntos por el Cambio presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich. Rumours persist he may sign up with Massa post-election.

 

BENTO KICKED OFF BENCH

Mendoza federal judge Walter Bento, 56, was removed from the bench on Wednesday by the impeachment jury of the Council of Magistrates and arrested immediately afterwards on “grave” graft and impeachment charges, including the extortion of bribes in exchange for acquittal. Bento’s defence team included Treasury Prosecutor Carlos Zannini. The ex-judge argued that he was the victim of the lack of any separation of powers in the Andean province.

 

SUBSIDY WAIVERS

Transport Minister Diego Giuliano revealed on Tuesday that just 1,500 people had accepted to date his mid-October challenge to subsidy critics to waive their rights, of whom only just over 200 came from the 18 million active users of public transport with SUBE cards. “Transport has a social sense,” the minister insisted, especially for commuting workers, teachers and schoolchildren, further pointing out that transport is subsidised in much of the world and helps to keep the economy moving.

 

GAY PRIDE MARCH

The LGBTIQ+ Gay Pride March was held last weekend between Plaza de Mayo and Congress with an abundance of rainbow flags and posters rejecting “anti-rights” and austerity, a political balance leaning clearly towards government presidential candidate “comrade” Sergio Massa and against his rival Javier Milei. Around the Obelisk the march converged with Boca Juniors fans gathering there to follow the Copa Libertadores final against Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro.

 

SWIFTIES OVER THE MOON

Taylor Swift, whose third and last gig in the Monumental stadium will be tonight after performing each night since Thursday, has apparently raised some eyebrows over the conditions stipulated for her appearance. They include 100 bottles of fine wine, a similar number of champagne bottles, 300 bottles of water (both still and sparkling) and countless scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (not all for personal consumption but to share with her team) as well as fresh flowers and Swarovski crystal to decorate her dressing-room. Ahead of her arrival the City Legislature decided to vote her as a “guest of honour” on the initiative of the Socialist Party, a motion opposed only by La Libertad Avanza – not surprisingly because ahead of the October 22 general elections Swifties issued a  communiqué urging fans to vote for anybody except libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei.

 

CHARLY’S NY CORNER

A prophet honoured far from his own country, the 40th anniversary of the album Clics Modernos was marked last Monday in New York in the form of a plaque reading “Charly García Corner” being placed at the intersection of Walker Street and Cortland Alley, which will henceforth bear the name of the famous Argentine musician. The ceremony, attended by Argentine Ambassador Jorge Argüello and the singer’s sister Josi García Moreno among others, was an initiative of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who carried the tribute one step further by designating November 6 as “Charly García Day” in the city that never sleeps.

 

NOTICIAS CORNERSTONE DIES AT 60

Edgardo ‘Edi’ Zunino, 60, long the editor of Noticias magazine and more recently running the digital contents of Grupo Perfil, died last Thursday after a long illness. Born in Greater Buenos (Ramos Mejía) on April 21, 1963, Zunino dedicated three of the six decades of his life to Perfil. A sharp political analyst to the end, he followed the ongoing electoral campaign closely, defining Patricia Bullrich as "more chameleon than hawk" while having the intellectual honesty to admit that he voted for the notorious 1983 Buenos Aires Province gubernatorial candidate Herminio Iglesias at the age of 20. A prize-winning journalist as early as 1995, perhaps the highlight of his career was his three-year investigation of the 1997 murder of Noticias news photographer José Luis Cabezas, who was both his employee and his friend.

 

1,000 FEET OF SALAMI

Long famous for its cold cuts and cheeses and celebrating its bicentenary this year, the city of Tandil last weekend produced the world’s longest salami at its Salami and Pork Festival, smashing a record set last July and entering into the Guinness Book of Records. The record-breaking salami measured 310.69 metres, way ahead of the longest salami of 183.4 metres at the previous year’s festival.

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