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ARGENTINA | 21-10-2022 09:02

Stories that caught our eye: October 14 to 21

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

 

GROUNDED PLANE’S CREW DEPARTS

The three Iranian and two Venezuelan crew members of a Venezuelan Emtrasur freight plane held in Ezeiza Airport hangars for the last four months could finally leave Argentina on Tuesday after being investigated for suspected terrorism but the aircraft itself continued to stay put at the request of United States courts, who will pay the costs. On October 14 Lomas de Zamora federal judge Federico Villena had finally cleared the last five members of the 19-strong crew for lack of evidence with the quintet summoned to his courtroom last Monday to be formally informed of his decision. 

 

SPLIT LOYALTIES 

President Alberto Fernández marked Peronist Loyalty Day on Monday apart from three other rallies to mark the birth of the movement, announcing an income booster for the most vulnerable sectors at a public work inauguration in Cañuelas in tandem with Economy Minister Sergio Massa (along with four other ministers) and Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof (along with three other governors). The booster will consist of a bonus of 45,000 pesos to be collected between next month and December although there was no precise definition of the recipients. The President also took pot shots against the “false liberalism” of his predecessor Mauricio Macri with extensive quotes from his new book Para qué, on sale as from last week, devoting much of his speech to that theme. The three separate rallies consisted of the more traditional CGT trade unionists gathering at Obras Sanitarias waterworks union in the morning, more militant trade unionists including teamster Pablo Moyano joining La Cámpora youth movement headed in Plaza de Mayo in the afternoon while the Movimiento Evita pickets assembled in La Matanza. The Plaza de Mayo event was highly critical of the government and included such radical demands as the nationalisation of foreign trade. 

 

INCOME TAX FLOOR RAISED

Economy Minister Sergio Massa announced on Tuesday that as from next month the income tax floor would be raised to 330,000 pesos, thus benefitting almost 380,000 Argentines. The minister added that there would also be a sliding scale from 431,000 pesos downwards to avoid unduly penalising those just above the tax exemption floor. Massa pointed out that 25.6 percent of workers were taxed when Frente de Todos took office in late 2019 but that last year Congress voted a law bringing tax relief to 1.5 million workers with the percentage now down to under 10 percent. The announcement was made in La Banda in Santiago del Estero (one of the few inland cities headed by the Renewal Front ruling coalition faction headed by Massa).

 

BA PROVINCE PAY HIKE

Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof marked Peronist Loyalty Day last Monday by granting provincial employees a 20 percent pay hike for the last quarter of 2022, thus topping up the increase to 90 percent for the year as a whole. The original 2022 pay increase, negotiated in collective bargaining last February, was 42 percent but it had already been boosted twice since. Buenos Aires Province Finance Minister Pablo López blamed “an international context of great uncertainty” for the complexities of keeping wages in line with prices while Kicillof considered the problem to be a heritage of the previous Juntos por el Cambio administration. The pay increase extends to teachers and health workers among others, as well as administrative employees.

 

ESPERT THROWS HAT INTO PROVINCIAL RING

Libertarian deputy José Luis Espert, who was a presidential candidate in 2019, on Tuesday threw his hat into the Buenos Aires Province gubernatorial ring for next year’s elections. Espert underlined that he was born in the province (Pergamino) unlike all previous City-born governors this century, including current Governor Axel Kicillof, as well as various gubernatorial hopefuls.

 

SPYING SCANDALS

Mirtha Legrand’s Saturday evening show was the unlikely venue for charges of illegal espionage during the Mauricio Macri government, lodged by Civic Coalition leader Elisa Carrió and La Nación journalist Hugo Alconada Mon. Carrió insisted that her family had suffered “irreparable damage,” blaming ex-ministers Jorge Faurie (Foreign Relations) and Patricia Bullrich (Security) in particular, the latter for allegedly infiltrating spies into her bodyguard. Alconada Mon thought that the espionage aimed at identifying his sources for his investigative reporting on the Odebrecht scandal, also including graft accusations against Ángelo Calcaterra, ex-president Macri’s cousin. President Alberto Fernández expressed deep concern over the charges, calling for “a serious prosecutor” to investigate the case while presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti said that the illegal espionage under Macri was “of a gravity never seen before in democracy.”

 

CRISTINA JOINS CASE

Federal judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi on Tuesday accepted Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as a plaintiff in the investigation of the Revolución Federal grouping for the September 1 attempt on her life. On Thursday the two leaders of Revolución Federal, Jonathan Morel and Franco Castelli, were arrested for posting threats on social networks. The case was originally in the hands of judge María Eugenia Capuchett but she declared herself non-competent, passing the investigation to Martínez de Giorgi. 

 

BIG BROTHER IS SLANDERING YOU

Instead of ignoring passing comments on the television reality show Gran Hermano referring to President Alberto Fernández as “a serial briber,” presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti chose to make an issue of it, feeling “obliged to say that the President has no information on this person nor recalls having known him” on her Twitter account. She was referring to the statements made by Walter 'Alfa' Santiago, who claimed to know the President via the City legislator Claudio Ferreño: “My best friend, since primary school, is Claudio Ferreño, the right-hand man of Alberto Fernández. I’ve known Alberto for 35 years. Alberto Fernández bribed me umpteen times, I know him very well.” Cerruti retorted: “As is public knowledge, Alberto Fernández has never been involved in corruption,” calling for a retraction by Telefe television channel. Santiago’s remarks came in an exchange with Frente de Todos ex-deputy Romina Uhrig.

 

DARTHÉS IN COURT

The actor Juan Darthés was summoned to testify in Brazil last Thursday in the case of sexual abuse against Thelma Fardin, four years after the actress first lodged the charges. The jurisdictional complexities of a case involving the accusation of a crime committed by a Brazilian-born Argentine actor against an Argentine actress on Nicaraguan soil (in 2009 when Fardin was still underage) had led to endless delays but the trial is now finally going ahead.

 

TURBULENCE TRAUMA

A dozen passengers were injured, three of them remaining in hospital, following a Wednesday Aerolíneas Argentinas flight from Madrid to Buenos Aires, due to turbulence over the Atlantic. Flight AR1133 had on board 271 passengers with 13 crew. The airline reproached the worst injured for not using their safety belts.

 

GALLARDO GOES

Some 72,000 River Plate fans paid a fond farewell to Marcelo Gallardo (46), their trainer of the last eight-plus years last weekend. His final match was a 2-1 defeat by Rosario Central but that was the least important part of the momentous occasion. The 14 titles he won for the club included the continental Libertadores Cup in 2015 and 2018.

 

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