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ARGENTINA | 03-11-2023 15:08

Stories that caught our eye: October 27 to November 3

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

 

PETROL SHORTAGES

Especially last weekend and in the first half of the week, there were acute petrol shortages nationwide. Economy Minister Sergio Massa blew hot and cold on the issue, first saying on Monday that exports would be banned as from the following day if the situation did not return to normal but already negotiating a 10 percent increase with oil companies in midweek. Domestic prices are based on the so-called “ ” of US$56 while world prices average around US$90 and as a result of this year’s prices at the petrol pump being held to half of inflation, wholesale prices have started to overtake retail. Some of the criticisms were more valid than others – La Libertad Avanza presidential candidate Javier Milei was caught using a fake news photo of a dry Shell service station dating back to 2017 on his social networks to illustrate the current situation, prompting over a quarter of a million “likes.”

 

GOVERNMENT ON ISRAEL

The government last Wednesday condemned the Israeli attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. While recognising Israel’s “right to legitimate self-defence,” the Foreign Ministry communiqué highlighted that “nothing justifies the violation of international humanitarian law” and that it was fundamental “to immediately halt the attacks directed against civilian infrastructure, especially where destined to guarantee the supply of essential services in the Gaza Strip” where the humanitarian situation “is increasingly alarming,” the communiqué warned. The government further urged the release of hostages while backing the call for an immediate truce and ceasefire voted by the United Nations General Assembly. Neighbouring countries went further with Bolivia breaking off relations with Israel due to “the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip” while Chile was not far behind over the “unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law.” But the critics were in turn criticised by DAIA Jewish association umbrella, which issued its own communiqué reading: “DAIA condemns the Foreign Ministry’s criticisms of Israel for its military response to the criminal terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7, ratifying the right to defence of a democratic state against a brutal attack in which over 1,400 persons were butchered … and 239 abducted, of whom 21 were Argentine.”  On Monday DAIA had already held a rally "against barbarous terrorism and in support of the state of Israel," drawing Unión por la Patria presidential candidate Sergio Massa, City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, PRO chair Patricia Bullrich, United States Ambassador Marc Stanley, Supreme Court justices and various libertarian leading lights such as La Libertad Avanza mayoral candidate Ramiro Marra and deputy-elect Diana Mondino but not their presidential candidate Javier Milei.

 

MASSA PENSIONS OFF CFK

Unión por la Patria presidential candidate Sergio Massa is keeping generally mum about his future Cabinet but on Thursday said that outgoing Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would not be holding any post in public service, thus confirming statements by re-elected Senator Juliana Di Tullio the previous day that the veep would not be forming part of any future Unión por la Patria government.

 

MARADONA VERSUS MASSA

Given the circumstance of Lionel Messi picking up his 8th Ballon D’Or on the same day the late Diego Maradona would have turned 63 last Monday, Pope Francis strayed away from theological doctrine to compare the two idols while adding Brazil’s Pelé to his two compatriots as the holy trinity of football. Interviewed by RAI in Rome, the Pope pointed out that “Maradona as a man slipped up, poor thing, with his entourage not helping him” while “Messi is super-correct, he’s a gentleman.” But Pope Francis did not ignore the wider world, commenting on the conflict between Israel and Hamas by saying: “Every war is a defeat” and that both peoples “should live together in two states very limited and Jerusalem with a special status.” Meanwhile back in this city Maradona’s birthday not only prompted the papal comments but also brought together four of his children (Dalma, Gianinna, Jana y Dieguito Fernando) for a memorial event in Puerto Madero.

 

MONDINO ON ORGANS

La Libertad Avanza deputy-elect Diana Mondino on Tuesday sought to explain her leader Javier Milei’s controversial position on human organs, defining it as “a market, which is something radically different from the sale of organs. You need a kidney and nobody in your immediate circle has one compatible or is able or willing to donate it but it might be available elsewhere. Market is the transaction, which does not mean you are charged for the donation.”

 

HUMAN RIGHTS SENTENCES IN CHACO

On Monday the Federal Criminal Cassation Court confirmed prison sentences of up to 14 years ruled by Chaco provincial judges against two ex-policemen (sergeant Gabino Manader and Miguel Ángel Vitorello) and a former Army Intelligence officer (Luis Alberto Patetta) for crimes against humanity during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

 

INSAURRALDE STAYS PUT

Outgoing Lomas de Zamora Mayor Martín Insaurralde was forced to step down as Buenos Aires Province Cabinet chief and drop his municipal candidacy following the corruption scandal arising from his controversial Marbella yachting trip in September but he can at least serve out his mayoral term until December 10, the local municipal council decided on Wednesday.

 

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE

Last week was not only wet in this city – heavy rains have swollen the famed Iguazú waterfalls on the border between Argentina and Brazil to near decade-high water volumes this week, authorities said, as flooding engulfed one of the site's main tourist walkways. Storms in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná sent the flow of water through the massive falls gushing to 24.2 million litres per second on Monday, the second-highest volume on record, officials said. The flow was more than 16 times the falls' normal level of 1.5 million litres per second. "It is the highest volume of water in recent years," said Urbia, the company which manages the national park encompassing the falls, a biodiversity hotspot. The highest water volume on record for the falls was in 2014, when officials registered a flow of 46.3 million litres per second. Raging brown floodwaters could be seen nearly swallowing the park's top attraction, a tourist walkway to the spot known as Devil's Throat, famed for its breathtaking views of the falls, leading to its closure through to Tuesday even though the water had started to recede. The Iguazú falls are ranked among the world’s top three (alongside Niagara and Victoria), with 275 separate waterfalls formed by the Iguazú river.

 

SQUATTER EVICTION MOVE

A Parque Patricios towel factory occupied since 2004 has become a potential battleground this week as over 500 City Police officers closed in to enforce an eviction order last Tuesday while City Hall authorities sought to negotiate the peaceful exit of the 170 families occupying the site, joined by almost 600 sympathisers who organised a Monday festival in their support, followed by a vigil. The site was purchased in 2010 by hotel entrepreneur Leonardo Ratuschny and the eviction first ruled in 2016 but no action had been taken until now.

 

IN FANGIO’S FOOTSTEPS?

Argentine racing-driver Franco Colapinto, 20, will be test-driving a Williams FW45 in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the last weekend of this month, hailing it as “an incredible opportunity,” although his immediate future next year will lie in F2 racing. Colapinto aspires to  be the most successful Argentine racing-driver since Carlos Alberto Reutemann began his career in 1981.

 

TURKEY TURNS  100

The Turkish Republic marked its centenary last Sunday and the milestone was celebrated with a grand reception at the Embassy residence the following day, ringed by tight security given Middle East tensions. Turkish Ambassador Omur Budak hailed relations with Argentina going back almost as long as the Republic founded by Kemal Ataturk (to 1926), covering not only the usual bilateral and commercial ties but also such aspects as earthquake relief, soap operas and satellites.   

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