Hours of Buenos Aires | What We Learned This Week: December 11-18

THE WEEK IN CORONAVIRUS

There were a total of 116,892 deaths and 5,382,290 confirmed cases of coronavirus contagion at press time yesterday compared to 116,748 deaths and 5,354,440 confirmed cases the previous Friday. Amid warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) of “a tsunami of infections from Delta and Omicron variants,” the week began with levels of contagion not seen since early September. Following the detection of four cases of Omicron in northern Cordoba (Colonia Caroya) last weekend after the first case was confirmed in San Luis the previous weekend, there were fears of a major outbreak in the provincial capital with more 90 suspected cases of the end of the school year where all the previous variants (including Delta) had been excluded. Around 800 people were immediately isolated in Cordoba. On Wednesday, the mad fringe of the anti-vaccination movement sparked controversy when it confronted Radio Con Vos journalists advocating vaccination, at least two of whom (Tomás Eliaschev and Alejandro Bercovich) were Jewish and were told: “We are going to hang you for being Jewish ”as the municipal police officers stood aside without intervening. This anti-Semitic explosion has been widely repudiated.

FIASCO BUDGET

The 2022 budget was rejected yesterday morning by a vote of 132 to 121 with a fiery speech from the leader of the Frente de Todos caucus, Máximo Kirchner, burning all bridges – the 2021 budget will be extended in its place. Economy Minister Martín Guzmán also criticized the opposition for “leaving Argentina, not the government but Argentina, without a budget”. Earlier this week, Guzmán presented the 2022 budget to Congress, celebrating a “double recovery” from the recession and the pandemic. The minister estimated that the primary budget deficit had been reduced from 6.4% of gross domestic product in 2020 to 3.5% of GDP, also detailing the usual forecasts for next year, such as 4% growth and 33 % inflation.

WORKING WATCH

The parallel “blue” dollar barely moved last week, closing yesterday at 196 pesos against 196.50 pesos the previous Friday. The official exchange rate rose from 106.75 to 107 pesos, as reported by Banco Nación, or a “tourist dollar” of 176.55 pesos with the addition of the 65% surcharges for buyers. Negotiation of other parallel rates – CCL (contado con liquidation) and MPE (mercado electronic de pago) – was more confused, dropping from 208.72 pesos to a range of 206-212 pesos and 196.99 pesos to nearly 200 pesos respectively since the previous Friday. The country risk was remarkably stable, given the complications of the day with the 2022 Budget, falling to 1,683 points against 1,685 points on the previous Friday.

GROWTH IN 3Q

Argentina’s economy grew 11.9% in the third quarter compared to the same quarter last year and 10.8% in the first nine months of the year, the statistical office of the l ‘INDEC. The figure also represents a 4.1% improvement over the previous quarter.

IMF

On Wednesday, the leader of the Frente de Todos caucus, Máximo Kirchner, pressured the city’s mayor, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, to explain how he would pay the money owed to the International Monetary Fund in 2022 and 2023 in the part of the 2018 deal signed by the Mauricio Macri government (around $ 19 billion over two years), as talks continue. Any deal made by the current government had to be better, Kirchner continued, also calling on the IMF “not to be so greedy” in the ongoing negotiations following the pandemic. The president shared a “very good” videoconference with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Friday after the budget bill was defeated.

BONUS FOR RETIREES

The government will grant a Christmas bonus of 8,000 pesos to all retirees receiving the minimum pension, to be paid between December 20 and 23, President Alberto Fernández announced Thursday. Those who receive pensions above the floor up to a ceiling of 37,000 pesos will be entitled to a smaller bonus bringing their final total to 37,061.63 pesos.

CARNE PARA TODOS (CONTINUED)

The government is seeking prices with discounts of 40-45% for five cuts of beef in the last 10 days of the year, sources close to Internal Trade Secretary Roberto Feletti have revealed following meetings with supermarkets and meat packers, who will commit to changing 10,000 tonnes of beef for export to the domestic market before Christmas and another 10,000 tonnes before the new year. Prices will drop from 1,000 or more pesos to a range of 390 to 599 pesos. The government also established new rules for beef exports to the United States next year while freeing up 20,000 tonnes per year for export until 2024 inclusive, according to resolution 266/2021 released Monday in the Official Gazette.

SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously declared unconstitutional the 2006 reform of the Judicial Council, a bill drafted by then-senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The decision nonetheless confirmed everything that had been done by the 13 members of the Council since then “for ineluctable reasons of legal certainty” but ordered him to return to his initial number of 20, as well as to reinstate the President of the Court. Supreme (Horacio Rosatti since October 1) at the helm of the Council. The future quorum will be 12 of the 20 members. The ruling argued that the 2006 reform distorted the initial balance between politicians, judges, lawyers and academics since seven of the 13 advisers were from the political world. The Council now has 120 days to return to a full complement of 20 members.

THE RETURN OF NICARAGUA?

Nicaragua received a rare punch from the Frente de Todos government when Argentine Ambassador to Geneva Federico Villegas (who will chair the 54 countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council next year) questioned Wednesday the decision of the Sandinista government to ban the UN Human Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet from entering the country to investigate the violations, “also reiterating our concern for the human rights situation man in Nicaragua, in particular with reference to the exercise of political rights in the context of the elections of November 7 ”. Nicaragua left the Organization of American States (OAS) a month ago following a resolution concluding that the elections “lacked democratic legitimacy.” Despite criticism this week, Argentina continues to abstain from international votes to condemn human rights violations in Nicaragua.

COURT ALBERTO EYES, TRANSFER OF CAPITAL

Amid immediate issues such as the arrival of the Omicron variant and rough seas for the 2022 budget, President Alberto Fernández proposed at least two new topics for debate during his address to the Socio-Economic Council midweek. – an “honest discussion” on the best working mechanism. , the optimal numbers and the division of labor in the Supreme Court while also proposing the “reconstruction of federalism” by saying: development and forcing the entire metropolitan area of ​​Buenos Aires to be rethought.

‘THE FIRST FEMINIST’

If Juan Domingo Perón prided himself on being “the first worker”, President Alberto Fernández is “the first feminist”, this is what he said to a predominantly female audience on the occasion of the first federal meeting of the 1000 days plan (the program offering state support during the first three years of infancy accompanying the abortion law of last December). The President said he felt “ridiculous” to call for an end to discrimination between men and women, but had to do so because this discrimination still existed. During the event in Tecnópolis, President Fernández was accompanied by the pregnant First Lady Fabiola Yañez as well as Ministers Carla Vizzotti (Health) and Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta (Women, Gender and Diversity), among others.

LÓPEZ, DE SOUZA ACQUITTED

The TOF (Federal Oral Court) 3 ruled Thursday on the acquittal of businessmen Cristóbal López and Fabián De Sousa in the multibillion-dollar tax evasion lawsuit of their Oil Combustibles company with the former head of the tax office of AFIP Ricardo Echegaray taking the form of 56 months in prison for “fraudulent administration” as well as a life ban from exercising public functions. The prosecutor had requested the same prison sentence for the two businessmen, who had already been remanded in custody for two years in this case and who claim to be victims of persecution.

BERNI’S LAST BOMB

Buenos Aires Province Security Minister Sergio Berni, a politician still searching for bombs, announced his presidential ambitions for 2023 (not necessarily within the Frente de Todos) midweek, also admitting s ‘being away from Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner after feeling left out. mid-sessions last month. Berni said President Alberto Fernández was no longer qualified to make decisions on behalf of the Frente de Todos after wasting five million votes and his credibility.

EX-MAYORS ON TRIAL FOR REGISTRY

The Federal Court of Cassation confirmed on Wednesday the trial of four former mayors (the best known of which is Francisco “Barba” Gutiérrez de Quilmes) for embezzling more than 604 million pesos from the GIRSU solid waste recycling program. The defendants were originally indicted by the late federal judge Claudio Bonadío more than two years ago. The judges determined that more than three-quarters of recycling projects were not completed and in some cases had not even started, despite receiving the funds, which were distributed in “an arbitrary fashion” and “without control. “. 40 other former mayors and three former chiefs of staff (Aníbal Fernández, Jorge Capitanich and Juan Manuel Abal Medina) face similar fraud charges.

KUN HANGS THE BOOTS

Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero, 33, tearfully announced his retirement from professional football on Wednesday, just six weeks after a period of arrhythmia in a Spanish league game raised a huge question mark over his future career. Starting out at Independiente (where he always dreamed of ending his career), he entered European football through Atlético Madrid but his best years were his decade at Manchester City which ended last May, where he is became the club’s top scorer with 184 goals. Despite these glories, he defined the Argentina national team as “his greatest love” during the press conference announcing his retirement with the last and final club Barcelona.

MARADONA SELFIE SHAME

Undertaker who uploaded selfies of himself next to Diego Maradona’s corpse on social media last year was sentenced Thursday to 50 hours of community service, a suspended prison sentence of four days and a donation of 10,000 pesos to an anti-addiction foundation.

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