Saturday, February 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 25-11-2017 11:49

What we learned this week: submarine search, gender parity and courthouse streakers

Key stories from the last seven days.


As with so many recent weeks, one story dominated all others this week: the search for the ARA San Juan. Thursday’s developments altered the narrative of the desperate hunt for the 44 crew-members with optimism draining from the families awaiting news of their loved ones. See the following pages for coverage.


Marta Vázquez, president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo – Founding Line (opposed to the line headed by Hebe de Bonafini) died of pneumonia last weekend at the age of 90. Her activism dated from the year 1976 when María Marta, 23, the only daughter of her six children, disappeared after being seized alongside her husband and Mónica Mignone (daughter of CELS founder Emilio Mignone). Since the girl was pregnant, her mother’s search also extended to an unknown grandchild. At the time Marta Vázquez was in Mexico where her husband José María Vásquez, a distinguished career diplomat, was posted.


Boca Juniors hooligan leader Gustavo ‘El Oso’ Pereyra, 49, was gunned down at the door of his house in the small hours of Wednesday, his body riddled with seven bullets. His death was attributed to infighting for the leadership of Argentina’s top soccer club. Pereyra, who had a prison record for aggressive behaviour both in and beyond football stadiums was the sixth fatal victim of soccer violence so far this year. Since 1922 the “passion of multitudes” has claimed over 300 lives, according to the NGO Salvemos el Fútbol.


The trial for the fraudulent purchase of Ciccone money-printing firm acquired new dimensions last week when Federal Judge Ariel Lijo summoned three big names on the basis of the testimony of whistle-blower Alejandro Vandenbroele: former AFIP tax bureau chief Ricardo Echegaray, Formosa Governor Gildo Insfrán and banker Jorge Brito. The trial thus far has centred on former vice-president Amado Boudou, for whom Vanenbroele is suspected of having been the dummy owner of the Old Fund company – the front for various illegal deals including not only Ciccone but a bogus consultancy contract with Formosa (hence the inclusion of Insfrán). Echegaray and Brito are to appear in court next week and Insfrán in the first week of December.


The five-year trial of atrocities at the ex-ESMA Navy Mechanics School concentration camp during the 1976-83 military dictatorship will end next Wednesday when the verdict sentencing the 54 defendants will be read. See next week’s edition for coverage of the trial and more on ESMA.


Political parties running for seats in Congress will be required to put up as many female candidates as male, after the Lower House passed legislation on Thursday to raise the gender parity ratio from 33 to 50 percent. The reform had been passed last October in the Senate but became stalled after its approval in a Constitutional Affairs committee. With 165 votes in favour and four against, the changes will come into effect by the 2019 general election. The surprise vote on Thursday was supported by a vast majority of lawmakers from across the political spectrum, although some expressed disapproval at the way it had came to a vote.


Members of “Los Monos” drug ring removed all their clothing to protest against their prison conditions just before the start of their trial at a Rosario courthouse last Tuesday. In the case of a majority of the 25 defendants, the clothing removed metaphorically took the form of a uniform – 13 of the accused are policemen, including three senior officers. They are charged with multiple crimes including five homicides. The protest was staged by at least seven of the defendants and delayed proceedings by three hours. Prior to this protest the accused had presented a collective habeas corpus. The trial is on a massive scale with 280 witnesses and 200 policemen providing security. Los Monos have been active for over 20 years and have helped to turn the city of Rosario into a byword for violence.


The Central Bank decided this week it is no longer illegal to exchange foreign currencies on the street, marking the end of an era in BA.


Justina Lo Cane, the 12-yearold girl awaiting a heart transplant for the last four months, died in hospital on Wednesday. Her poignant fate was widely followed by public opinion while surveys point to a 15 percent surge over the last year in the number of people wiling to donate their organs after death.


President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition spent three times more on its election campaign in Buenos Aires province than its closest rival, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Unidad Ciudadana, reports delivered to the provincial electoral court this week revealed. In the so-called “mother of all battles” over two key national Senate spots and a bounty of Lower House seats, Cambiemos spent 69,399,860 pesos while the Unidad Ciudadana spent 23,388,743 pesos, the reports showed. Cambiemos won the race, sending Esteban Bullrich and Gladys González to the Senate, and Graciela Ocaña’s ticket to the Lower House. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, embroiled in corruption scandals and internal unease about her leadership, lost her third consecutive election on a tight margin that gave her the third and final senate ticket for the province in Argentina’s national Congress. Her newly formed party, Unidad Ciudadana, was not eligible for campaign financing from the state because it was not registered as a party prior to 2015.

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