Thursday, May 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 07-08-2021 09:06

What we learned this week: July 31 to August 7

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



There were 107,213 deaths and 5,002,951 confirmed cases of coronavirus by press time yesterday as against 105,586 deaths and 4,919,408 cases the previous Friday. On Monday schoolchildren nationwide resumed classroom education in some form, except for the provinces of Santa Cruz and Formosa, while Jujuy made vaccination compulsory for all provincial employees. While unable to confirm any end to the delays in the delivery of second doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, the government announced on Tuesday that their production would be coming on stream at Laboratorios Richmond this month with the approval of Moscow. On Wednesday Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, flanked by her City and Buenos Aires Province colleagues Fernán Quirós and Nicolás Kreplak, announced that the second Sputnik dose was not absolutely necessary since the first dose could also be supplemented with AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines, following three weeks of clinical testing. On Friday, President Alberto Fernández confirmed that restrictions would be loosened nationwide and that the 1,000-person daily cap on returning residents would be lifted to 1,700.



Federal prosecutor Ramiro González on Thursday agreed to investigate the visits to Olivos presidential residence as denounced by opposition militants, especially the entries last year at the peak of the quarantine against the coronavirus pandemic. The original focus of these charges was ex-model Sofía Pacchi, an aide of first lady Fabiola Yañez, but they have since spread to actress Florencia Peña, who has asked for the suspension of PRO deputies Fernando Iglesias and Waldo Wolff due to the "psychological violence" of controversial social network comments that were drenched in misogyny.



The prominent intellectual Beatriz Sarlo created a minor storm in midweek when she asserted: “The Malvinas are British territory,” describing sovereignty claims as a nationalist propaganda which had had such disastrous consequences as the declaration of war by then-military president Leopoldo Galtieri in 1982. Sarlo said that she had visited the islands to write a series of articles and described the terrain as more similar to southern Scotland than anywhere in Argentina. The essayist also expressed her doubts whether those calling her a traitor were ready to live and work on the bleak islands.



Thanks to the City’s new Electoral Code, around 400,000 foreign residents will be able to vote in the upcoming PASO primaries and midterm elections, almost 20 times more than the 21,000 registered for the last elections in 2019. The change is due to immigrants over the age of 16 and with a DNI identity document being automatically registered upon reaching two years of residence whereas previously they had to register themselves. This new immigrant vote represents around 16 percent of the total electorate and doubles the population of any one of the City’s 15 communes. The change is considered to benefit Frente de Todos since the newly enfranchised include immigrant communities such as the Bolivians (65,400) and Paraguayans (54,800) who have previously favoured Peronism but their votes will be strictly local, not for national Congress.



The “blue” dollar continued its retreat last week, receding to 178.50 pesos yesterday as against just over 180 pesos the previous Friday. The official exchange rate (102 pesos as quoted by Banco Nación) was thus a peso higher for the first time in many months if the 65 percent surcharges for authorised purchases are added. In contrast to the “blue,” the parallel but legal exchange rates, CCL (contado con liquidación) and MEP (mercado electrónico de pagos), both rose, from 169.31 to 170.58 pesos in the former case and from 168.74 to 170.09 pesos in the latter the tight controls of recent weeks slackening somewhat. Country risk dropped back to 1,580 points yesterday from 1,601 points at the close of the previous week as the arrival of special drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund to the tune of US$4.35 billion was confirmed for August 23.



The Federal Criminal Cassation Court on Thursday quashed a conviction against Jujuy social leader Milagro Sala for instigating an “escrache” protest against the province’s Radical Governor Gerardo Morales back in 2009 (when he was senator).  Sala’s 42-month prison sentence now returns to Jujuy federal courts for a new verdict but faces the statute of limitations. Sala’s lawyer Luis Paz had appealed the sentence on the grounds of procedural irregularities. The social leader was not personally present at the 2009 protest, which had been carried out by members of her Túpac Amaru grouping who threw eggs at Morales. She was given a three-year suspended sentence in the first trial but it was upgraded to 42 months behind bars in 2016.



Ibar Pérez Corradi, convicted on several counts of trafficking 13,000 kilos of ephedrine to Mexico and money-laundering in 2018, was released on Tuesday evening after United States courts withdrew requests for his extradition. Two of his three prison sentences had already expired while judicial authorities said that his whistle-blowing had aided their investigation.  Perez Corradi has consistently denied that he had anything to do with the 2008 slaying of businessmen Sebastián Forza, Damián Ferrón and Leopoldo Bina in General Rodríguez, related to the ephedrine-trafficking.



The NGO Haciendo Camino has broken down details of the poverty suffered by 63 percent of children (some seven million) according to INDEC statistics bureau data for the last quarter of 2020. According to the NGO’s report,  40 percent of children suffer malnutrition, 54 percent live in overcrowded conditions, 43 percent of homes have no drinking water, 67 percent are built with precarious materials, 32 percent have no means of preserving food and 62 percent of families lack regular medical controls. The report identifies Santiago del Estero and Chaco as the provinces with the worst child poverty in the country. 



The number of women suffering violent deaths is on the rise in Argentina with a total of 155 femicides in the first seven months of the year leaving 175 children motherless, according to figures compiled by the NGO La Casa del Encuentro.  Of the 155 victims, only 21 had sought restraining orders and only 10 had obtained them.



Three firemen died fighting a fire in Caseros on Tuesday. Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof ordered three days of provincial mourning.



The football world was stunned on Thursday when Barcelona confirmed that they would be unable to retain superstar Lionel Messi (with them all this century) due to financial fair play restrictions. Paris Saint-Germain is rumoured to be his next club.



The City Legislature on Thursday approved a rezoning law which will allow San Lorenzo football club (whose fans include Pope Francis) to construct its stadium in the Boedo neighbourhood, an option denied them since 1998. The cause has prompted demonstrations of up to 110,000 fans in Plaza de Mayo (2012) in the intervening 23 years. San Lorenzo was headed by current Tourism and Sports Minister Matías Lammens until he entered the Cabinet in late 2019.


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