Friday, December 8, 2023

ARGENTINA | 27-08-2021 21:26

What we learned this week: August 21 to 28

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



Argentina reached 111,270 deaths and 5,167,733 confirmed cases of coronavirus contagion by press time yesterday as against 110,070 deaths and 5,124,963 cases the previous Friday. Last weekend the country’s first death from the Delta strain of the virus was reported in Córdoba – a Peruvian aged 62 who had dodged quarantine and infected more than 30 other people (one of whom died on Monday). The prevalence of Delta remained a mystery throughout the week with a case of community circulation in Lanús confirmed on Tuesday when there were 58 cases nationwide. On Monday infectious diseases expert and government consultant Eduardo López criticised almost five million doses of vaccine remaining in the freezer while Spain lifted compulsory quarantine for Argentine visitors. The scandal over the presidential violation of quarantine at the first lady’s birthday party last year continued with Housing Minister Jorge Ferraresi trying to regain the initiative by calling on Tuesday for the re-election of Alberto Fernández, a lead followed by others during the week. The same day Ministers Carla Vizzotti (Health) and Matías Lammens (Tourism and Sports) announced that spectators would be making their first return to football stadiums since the pandemic began at the September 9 World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia at River Plate’s Monumental ground, just three days before the PASO primaries. On Thursday President Fernández was formally charged with quarantine violation by prosecutor Ramiro González.  



Corrientes Peronist provincial legislator Miguel Arias was wounded in the stomach by a firearm at an election rally on Thursday evening. The victim was reported in delicate condition at press time yesterday when there was no word on the identity of his assailant. The shooting was widely repudiated, including Corrientes Radical Governor Gustavo Valdés, who was nevertheless blamed for the crime by Frente de Todos national deputy José Ruiz Aragón.



Kirchnerite picket leader Luis D’Elía celebrated his conditional release last Tuesday with a political rally in La Matanza after 30 months between prison and house arrest, ostentatiously cutting up his electronic anklet. The rally also featured telephone contact with jailed Jujuy Tupac Amaru social activist Milagro Sala. D’Elia’s 42-month sentence was for overrunning a police precinct in 2004, accusing the officers of complicity in the death of a social leader.



The TOF2 (Tribunal oral federal dos) court on Monday sentenced the lawyer Marcelo D’Alessio to four years in prison for attempted extortion against a Customs agent in 2016 (a case preceding the much higher-profile one now being tried in Dolores). Suspended Mercedes prosecutor Juan Ignacio Bidone was sentenced to 44 months for the same offence while former intelligence agents Claudio Álvarez and Rolando Barreiro received suspended sentences of two years. For part D’Alessio accused judges Alejo Ramos Padilla and Luis Rodríguez of “torturing” him.



Former two-term Catamarca Radical governor Eduardo Brizuela del Moral, 77, who has also represented the province in both houses of Congress, died last Wednesday morning of double pneumonia (not apparently caused by coronavirus). Current Catamarca Peronist Governor Raúl Jalil decreed three days of provincial mourning and the electoral campaign was suspended for 48 hours in the province as the dead politician was praised across the political spectrum. Brizuela del Moral started his political career as mayor of the provincial capital between 1991 and 2001 following the collapse of the Peronist Saadi dynasty and then moved briefly to the Senate before becoming governor between 2003 and 2011. Elected deputy in 2013, his seat was up for re-election this spring.



The government last Wednesday created via emergency decree 556/2021 a Directive Council of 15 directors to control the works on the Hidrovía Paraguay-Paraná waterway (including audits and inspection) as well as the tender of services with its headquarters in Rosario, operating under the Transport Ministry but also including six other ministries as well as the participation of the seven provinces with banks on these rivers. The Hidrovía waterway, 1,635 kilometres in length, accounts for approximately 81 percent of Argentine exports and 96 percent of container traffic.


The “blue” parallel dollar did not budge from the 182 pesos of the previous Friday last week while the official exchange rate (edging up to 102.75 pesos as against 102.50 pesos the previous week, as quoted by Banco Nación) fractionally closed the gap, remaining below the “blue” even with the 65 percent surcharges for authorised purchases. The CCL (contado con liquidación) and MEP (mercado electrónico de pagos) parallel but legal exchange rates both moved up, the former from 169.27 to 169.87 pesos and the latter rather more so from 169.32 to 170.21 pesos. Country risk dipped last week from 1,589 points the previous Friday to 1,538 points yesterday (the same level as a fortnight ago), thanks in large part to the arrival of US$4.334 billion of special drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund last Monday. 


Prosecutor Claudio Navas Rial on Monday added the names of former Cabinet chief Marcos Peña, former Foreign minister Jorge Faurie and former Strategic Affairs secretary Fulvio Pompeo to those already accused of the contraband of arms and ammunition to Bolivia prior to the military coup against ex-president Evo Morales in late 2019. Ex- president Mauricio Macri and two of his ministers Patricia Bullrich (Security) and Oscar Aguad (Defence) among others have already been charged. Faurie is accused of penning a "suspicious note" proposing the despatch of Border Guards to Bolivia to defend the Argentine Embassy in La Paz from upheavals in that country.


A video of a La Matanza history teacher haranguing her fourth year pupils against the Mauricio Macri presidency rapidly became a trending topic on social networks last Thursday. Laura Radetich was suspended by local authorities after a student filmed her via mobile telephone yelling things like: “You think that because he had blue eyes, he did not rob you” in response to one of the class arguing that La Matanza’s problems could also be due to 27 years of Peronist government in Buenos Aires Province. But President Aberto Fernández defended the teacher, saying that it was “formidable that there’s been this debate” and arguing that some Buenos Aires City teachers defended the 1976 military coup.


Israel has appointed Argentine-born Dani Dayan (a former consul general in New York) as the president of Shoah Yad Vashem, its Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Dayan emigrated to Israel from his native Argentina at the age of 15. 


President Alberto Fernández on Tuesday sprang to the defence of Frente  de Izquierda Congress hopeful Myriam Bregman over an anti-Semitic flyer in the social network circulated the lawyer Alejandro Fargosi, accusing Bregman of "not singing the national anthem since it does not represent her because she’s a leftist" and defining her as "a Jewish militant of Frente de Izquierda.” President Fernández stated: "My solidarity with Myriam Bregman, a leader of political struggle and deserving every respect," charging: "The dominant classes have often done this, using anti-Semitism to distract the people from who their real enemies are – they do not say the banks but the Jews” while Bregman said that accusing her of not singing the national anthem was "fake news." Fargosi later erased the tweet and apologised.


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