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Buenos Aires Weather | What We Learned This Week: April 9-16

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INFLATION MOVES

Last month’s inflation was 6.7%, the national statistics office INDEC said midweek, the highest in 20 years. Annual inflation thus reached 55.1% with 16.1% so far this year. The key item of food and drink exceeded the overall average at 7.2% with double-digit increases recorded by education (23.6%) and clothing and footwear (10.9%). In a television interview on Monday, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán had forecast inflation in March to reach 6%, promising it would be “the highest this year”, but the final figure exceeded almost all expectations. The minister, who was again backed by President Alberto Fernández over the weekend, also made “clear political support” a condition for economic success and ruled out any agricultural export rights. Also on Monday, ahead of last month’s inflation announcement, City Hall said a family of four needed 90,467 pesos a month to escape poverty and 49,602 pesos to escape destitution. Poverty in this city was measured last year at 16.4% compared to 37.3% nationally.

BABY FRANCISCO

The week began with the birth of Francisco Fernández Yañez (at 1:21 a.m. Monday, to be exact) at Otamendi Hospital, the second son of President Alberto Fernández and 27 years younger than his older brother. The president refused to take paternity leave and continued to work out of the hospital for three days, preventing Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (who congratulated the presidential couple with best wishes for their new offspring, also sending flowers) to replace him. Francisco, who weighed 3.5 kilos, was immediately made a member of the Argentinos Juniors football club when he was born.

CLASSIC CRISTINE

Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Wednesday inaugurated the Eurolat parliamentary assembly bringing together European and Latin American legislators with a controversial speech in which she reminded President Alberto Fernández that “receiving the presidential baton does not mean that you have the power” and complained about the law at her expense. More irrelevant, she described capitalism as the “most efficient system” with inequality “the product of political decisions or lack thereof.” Some of the visiting MPs criticized her speech as a partisan harangue below the level of institutional occasion, also questioning that she was targeting NATO rather than the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

SILK ROAD REGISTRATION

Last Monday, Argentina officially joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (often dubbed the Silk Road, which connected China to the outside world for more than 1,000 years between the Han and Tang dynasties), an alliance potentially providing access to US$23.7 billion to finance infrastructure projects according to the Foreign Office as well as the possible transfer of Beijing’s Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund. The memorandum of understanding to this effect, signed by Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero on February 4, was published in the Official Gazette last Monday. The Belt and Road already connects 139 countries (including 13 Latin American republics and all 54 African countries) to 70% of the world’s population, 75% of energy reserves and 55% of global economic output.

PICKETS PERSIST

Picket activists failed to agree with the government on expanding social plans earlier this week and resumed protests midweek. The town hall has offered to strip the pickets disrupting traffic from their social plans. Monday’s talks, which lasted more than two hours, were led by Social Development Minister Juan Zabaleta on the government side and Polo Obrero leader Eduardo Belliboni on the picket lines, who are also demanding jobs and a food aid.

STRIKES ARE ACCELERATE

Transporters have been on strike all week to protest the shortage of diesel fuel and rising freight rates, crippling grain exports. An agreement was reached on Thursday. The city’s doctors went on a 36-hour strike last Tuesday to demand a 90% pay rise to beat inflation and working conditions.

INCAA DISPUTE

The government decided last Tuesday to fire Luis Puenzo (winner of the 1984 Oscar for best foreign film with The Official History) at the head of the INCAA (Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales) following a noisy demonstration demanding his resignation, which ended in clashes with the municipal police and two arrests. The complaint against Puenzo was that he showed little or no interest in independent and inside film producers. The Minister of Culture, Tristán Bauer, stressed that “for this government, the production of national content is fundamental” in the defense of “cultural sovereignty”. Picket leader Eduardo Belliboni of Polo Obrero joined the protest.

MARKET WATCH

The “blue” parallel dollar slid a single peso in a shortened week ending Thursday at 195 pesos from 196 the previous Friday while the official exchange rate fell from 117.25 to 118 pesos during the same period, as quoted by Banco Nación, or 195.34 pesos if the 65% surcharges for savers and tourists are included. The parallel but legal CCL (contado con liquidation) and Member of the European Parliament (electronic means of pages) the exchange rates both increased slightly from 189.50 and 190.36 pesos to 190.75 and 191.33 pesos respectively. Country risk fell below the 1,700 point mark, from 1,727 to 1,689 points.

TRIAL FOR COLLECTIVE RAPE

The trial of the six youths accused of the February 28 Palermo gang rape was upheld last Tuesday and they will remain in jail, with the court arguing they could threaten the victim if released. Only half of the defendants have appealed so far.

PATROL BOAT

The Argentine Navy received its fourth and last offshore patrol boat ARA Contraalmirante Cordero from French shipbuilders Naval Group in Concarneau, Brittany, on Wednesday. “These boats already contribute to the defense of the sovereign interests of Argentina”, comments a press release from the Navy. With a crew of 40 each, the patrol boats can spend more than three weeks at sea at speeds of over 20 knots (37 kilometers per hour), weighing 1,650 tons and 87 meters long.

UN DOCTORATE

Last Tuesday, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, received the degree of doctor honoris causa from the hands of the Chancellor of the University of Córdoba, Hugo Juri, in New York. Despite such pressing emergencies as the Russian invasion of Ukraine “placing climate change at the mercy of geopolitics” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the former Portuguese Prime Minister found time to deliver a speeches of several hundred words in thanks for the honor, showing knowledge of the Jesuit origins of the University of Córdoba over 400 years ago and previous recipients such as the late Shimon Peres and “my friend Felipe González”. He considered the honor extended to the UN as a whole rather than to himself, hailing the role of higher education in creating a better world.

DEAD ON ARRIVAL

A man traveling more than 15 kilometers on the 66 bus line from Greater Buenos Aires to Liniers was found dead at the end of the trip around noon Tuesday without any of his fellow travelers noticing him, thinking he was coming to fall asleep.

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