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ARGENTINA | 14-10-2022 09:41

Stories that caught our eye: October 7 to 14

Here's a selection of the stories that seized the headlines over the past seven days in Argentina.

 

 

NEW MINISTERS

President Alberto Fernández on Monday quadrupled the female component in his Cabinet from the end of last week when he named Victoria Tolosa Paz, Raquel ‘Kelly’ Olmos and Ayelén Mazzina to fill the vacant helms of the Social Development, Labour and Women, Gender & Diversity Ministries respectively. They respectively replace Juan Zabaleta, Claudio Moroni and Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, the latter two members of the original 2019 Frente de Todos cabinet who are now reduced to five. These appointments were seen as purely presidential choices with no influences from the various factions of the ruling coalition. All three ministers were sworn-in on Thursday.

 

NEW DOLLARS

After weeks of anticipation, the so-called “dólar Qatar” finally came into existence on Tuesday, accompanied by the “dólar Coldplay” among other new exchange rates – the targets are tourism abroad, luxury imports and concerts by foreign performers with a view to protecting Central Bank reserves. All tourist spending above a monthly US$300 will be subjected to a new surcharge of 25 percent on top of previous surcharges of 30 and 45 percent, making for an exchange rate of 314 pesos per dollar on the day of implementation. The ”dólar Coldplay” was considerably cheaper at 204 pesos since it consists of just adding a 30 percent tax to the price of performers earning in foreign currency.

 

NEW IMPORT SYSTEM

As from next Monday the SIMI (Sistema Integral de Monitoreo de las Importaciones) import system will be replaced by the SIRA (Sistema de Importaciones República Argentina) whereby the government proposes to give importers fixed dates on which they can pay out fixed dollar sums to their overseas suppliers. The new system seeks to weed out the over-invoicing of imports by monitoring the flow of cash and merchandise in real time. It will be supplemented by a SIRASE (Sistema de Importaciones República Argentina y Pagos de Servicios al Exterior) payment service replacing the current SIMPE. The change was accelerated by detecting last month that while over US$94 billion in SIMIs have been issued so far this year, only US$57.53 billion worth of imports had passed through Customs. Suspect operations to the tune of US$650 million have been investigated with 715 companies identified – items related to the coronavirus pandemic were a favourite choice here.

 

HORACIO COMES CLEAN

Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta revealed on Wednesday night that he has “fallen in love” with a new partner, later confirmed to be 36-year-old City Hall official Milagros Maylin. 

 

MASSA IN DC

As from Wednesday Economy Minister Sergio Massa was in Washington DC attending the Spring Assembly of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank where he was seeking to continue beefing up Central Bank reserves as well as promote investments. Massa arrived boosted by his success in clearing a further US$3.8 billion from the IMF on the back of their approval of the second quarterly review on October 7. The Spring Assembly, running until yesterday, was simultaneous with the IDEA business symposium in Mar del Plata.

 

ALBERTO GOES SOUTH

Visiting the Neuquén city of San Martín de los Andes on Tuesday for a hospital inauguration, President Alberto Fernández met up with half a dozen representatives of Mapuche communities "to organise a space of dialogue to resolve conflicts" but he was also greeted by a group of demonstrators demanding the release of the women arrested after the clearance of Villa Mascardi. Accompanied by Neuquén Governor Omar Gutiérrez among others, President Fernández highlighted "historic works like a gas pipeline and an aqueduct which will benefit Mapuche communities."

 

STORMS AT IGUAZÚ

The famed Iguazú waterfalls on the border between Argentina and Brazil have registered 10 times their usual water volume after heavy rains, authorities said, closing one of the site's main tourist walkways for safety reasons. The flow through the massive waterfall system reached 14.5 million litres (3.8 million gallons) per second Wednesday night, far above the usual 1.5 million per second, said Wemerson Augusto, spokesman for Iguazú National Park. The high water level led officials to close the "Devil's Throat" walkway, famed for its breathtaking views of the falls, after it was partly submerged, Augusto told AFP. Walkways on the Argentine side were also closed Tuesday. The water volume was the highest recorded at the falls since June 2014, when the flow hit 47 million litres per second.

 

MILEI IN MADRID

Deputy Javier Milei found himself something of a rock star of the international libertarian right at the Madrid VIVA22 event, hosted by Spanish VOX far right leader Santiago Abascal, sharing the stage with Italy’s new neo-fascist premier Giorgia Meloni and other European ultra-conservative heavyweights. Milei was greeted as a "South American reference" for conservative sectors. He will be addressing the event today with an audience estimated between 25,000 and 30,000.  

 

UN RESOLUTION BACKED

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning Russia's “illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian territories, inflicting a further diplomatic defeat on Moscow, which had vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council in late September. Argentina voted in favour of the resolution, tabled by Albania and Ukraine itself,and co-sponsored by some 70 countries.

 

WHATEVER FOR?

Editorial Planeta is continuing with its policy of anticipating ex-president Mauricio Macri’s new book Para qué (which will be hitting the bookshops next Tuesday) in measured doses. Last week they released the cover and this week an extract suggestively headlined Segundo tiempo (in allusion to Macri’s first book Primer Tiempo), which includes fierce criticisms of populist Kirchnerism and advancing details of that Segundo Tiempo (second half), thus leaving open the possibility of running in next year’s elections. Macri insisted that the gradualism of his 2015-19 presidency was “the product of our weakness (in Congress)” rather than his own intentions and that there would be no overseas investments until the country had been decisively turned around with structural reforms and hefty cuts in the public spending of a state which is “nothing more than a gigantic factory of deficit, inflation and poverty,” also ending protectionism.  

 

TEAR GAS BAN

The Buenos Aires provincial Security Ministry on Monday banned the use of tear gas by the provincial police in the wake of the chaotically suspended October 6 match between the La Plata team Gimnasia y Esgrima and Boca Juniors which resulted in the death of a fan of the former. For their part policemen announced a refusal to guard stadiums during football matches after two colleagues were placed under arrest following the death of fan César "Lolo" Regueiro while Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof said that he was analysing the creation of a "special corps" for that function.

 

FUCKS RESTORES BUST

Thanks to the efforts of Argentine Ambassador to Ecuador Gabriel Fuks, a bust of late president Néstor Kirchner, which had been removed from a Quito square by the previous Lenin Moreno government in 2018 on the pretext of protecting it from vandalism, has been reinstated. But no such luck for the statue of Néstor Kirchner outside the Unasur headquarters, which Moreno had removed in 2019. 

 

 CHACARITA COOL

Chacarita ranks in 34th place among the "coolest" neighbourhoods of the world according to a tourist guide issued by the British leisure magazine Time Out, which cited Chacarita’s green spaces, old, low-storey architecture, cobbled streets, nightlife and restaurants as the grounds for its choice. A November visit is recommended, due to the jacaranda. The list is headed by Colonia Americana in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

GALLARDO CONFIRMS DEPARTURE

River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo delivered Millo fans the worst news possible on Thursday as he confirmed he would leave the club after a glittering eight-year spell in charge when his contract expires in December. ‘El Muñeco’ has picked up 14 titles in his spell as manager and will be sorely missed by the club’s supporters, who are sure to give the club legend a fond farewell.

 

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