Wednesday, February 21, 2024

ARGENTINA | 09-10-2021 12:49

What we learned this week: October 2 to 9

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



Argentina reached 115,444 deaths and 5,265,058 confirmed cases of coronavirus contagion by press time yesterday as against 115,225 deaths and 5,25,466 cases the previous Friday. Health authorities announced that half the population had been completely vaccinated on Tuesday, thus immediately triggering the announcement that all airport entry caps would be lifted on October 19, always provided that the incoming passengers above the age of six are also completely vaccinated. It was further announced that the daily entry cap would be raised from 3,000 to 4,000 next week. On Thursday the British Government announced that 47 countries and territories including Argentina would be lifted as from next Monday from the “red list” restricting entry into the United Kingdom.



Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and nine other defendants, including Treasury Prosecutor Carlos Zannini and the late Héctor Timerman posthumously, were acquitted on Thursday in the case of the 2013 memorandum of understanding with Iran denounced by the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman for seeking the impunity of Iranian officials masterminding the 85-death terrorist bomb destruction of the AMIA Jewish community centre in 1994. The three judges of the TOF8 court considered that no crime was involved. Their sentence was appealed to the Criminal Cassation Court.



Supreme Court justice Elena Highton de Nolasco, 78, will resign as from November 1, it became known last Tuesday when a letter dated September 30 went public. The letter was written a week after Horacio Rosatti emerged as the new Chief Justice in an election boycotted by both Highton de Nolasco and former chief justice Ricardo Lorenzetti. Argentina’s first female justice but generally observing a low profile, she entered the Supreme Court in 2004 and had resisted retirement since reaching the statutory age of 75 in late 2017. Replacing her, which will require a two-thirds Senate majority, is expected to take time. 



Chasing the youth vote, President Alberto Fernández last weekend received Elián Ángel Valenzuela (better known as trapero L-Gante) at the Olivos presidential residence, together with his partner and newborn daughter Jamaica. Also accompanied by first lady Fabiola Yañez, the popular singer and the presidential father-to-be exchanged paternity notes with L-Gante praising Fernández for seeking to exchange social plans for jobs and announced his own plans for completing his secondary education (currently in third grade) as an example to youth. The next celebrity on the presidential list for an Olivos visit is Javier Calamaro.



The provincial governments of Catamarca, Salta and Jujuy on Wednesday signed an agreement forming a Lithium Mining Region with the aim of reaffirming provincial rights, also creating a regional committee bringing together two officials from the mining ministry of each province together with representatives of the Interior, Productive Development and Science and Technology Ministries at national level. According to various studies, Argentina has lithium reserves for more than four centuries. The agreement was signed by Governors Raúl Jalil (Catamarca), Gustavo Sáenz (Salta) and Gerardo Morales (Jujuy), joined by the new Science and Technology Minister Daniel Filmus among other national officials. 



Closing the week early on Thursday due to the long weekend, the “blue” parallel dollar fell to 184.50 pesos from the previous Friday’s level of 186 pesos in reaction to new restrictions on financial transactions while the official exchange rate dipped in parallel from 104.30 to 104.25 pesos, as quoted by Banco Nación, or just over 172 pesos with the 65 percent surcharges for authorised purchases. The CCL and MEP parallel but legal exchange rates both hovered just over 176 pesos at similar levels to last week. Country risk was also down last week, closing yesterday at 1,582 points as against 1,612 points the previous Friday. 



His absence in the United States prevented ex-president Mauricio Macri from heeding a Thursday summons by Dolores federal judge Martín Bava in the case probing the illegal espionage of the families of the lost ARA San Juan submarine. Stateside Macri announced on Wednesday that he would be giving classes as "a mentor for future leaders" at the Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom, a Florida International University think tank directed by Cuban-American Carlos Díaz-Rosillo, a former White House advisor during the Donald Trump presidency.



A man suffering psychiatric problems and a friend whom he had taken hostage died on Tuesday morning while three policemen were wounded in a gory incident lasting over 10 hours in the Tres de Febrero neighbourhood of Caseros. During that period Alejandro Maldonado, 47, who had dug in at his house in the 3900 block of Tres de Febrero Street, fired at least 300 shots at the Halcón (SWAT) policemen surrounding the place before they burst into the house, gunned him down and found his friend José Cáceres, 42, dead, apparently murdered by Maldonado several hours beforehand. "I’m armed for the third world war," Maldonado, a man with a criminal and psychiatric record and a known drug addict, told a female psychologist trying to negotiate with him, prompting Buenos Aires provincial Security Minister Sergio Berni to conclude: “He was totally out of his skull.” 



A Tucumán court sentenced the policemen Mauro Gabriel Díaz Cáceres and Nicolás Javier González Montes de Oca to life imprisonment for killing Facundo Ferreira,12, with a shot to the head in the small hours of March 8, 2018, following a police chase. Their lawyers pleaded self-defence but the judges read out the sentence requested by the prosecution.



The first preliminary hearing into the murder of Fernando Báez Sosa in the Atlantic resort of Villa Gesell on January 18 last year was held in Dolores last Wednesday with defence lawyers requesting the testimony of over 100 witnesses but the full trial will not go ahead until next year or even early in 2023. The eight defendants followed the proceedings in virtual form from Melchor Romero penitentiary. 



Rescue teams saved two stranded whales along the Atlantic coast on Tuesday, the Fundación Mundo Marino said. The mammals had been stranded between Sunday and Monday on the beach of the seaside resort of La Lucila del Mar. Some 30 people participated in the rescue operation, including local residents, marine conservationists, Civil Defence members, Coast Guard officers, firefighters, volunteers and beach lifeguards. 



The day after River Plate defeated Boca Juniors 2-1 last Sunday at an overcrowded Superclásico at the Monumental, Ministers Matías Lammens (Sports and Tourism), Aníbal Fernández (Security) and Carla Vizzotti (Health) huddled with AFA. Argentine Football Association officials to present the possibility of denying public attendance to clubs not respecting controls. Decree 678/21 only permits half-capacity for mass events exceeding 1,000 people but there were 36,787 fans in the River Plate stadium last Sunday or 60 percent of total capacity, according to City Hall.



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