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Oct. 29th-Nov 4th: What we learned this week

What has happened the last seven days?

Saturday 3 November, 2018
Lazaro Baez.
Lazaro Baez. Foto:AFP/ EITAN ABRAMOVICH

SUPERCLÁSICO!

While the results from the first leg of the Libertadores Cup semi-finals seemed to point to a Grêmio-Boca Juniors final, an upset 2-1 away win by River Plate in Porto Alegre (both goals in the last 10 minutes) ensured a historic Superclásico in the first-ever all-Argentine Libertadores final. Meanwhile Boca successfully maintained their two-goal edge with a 2-2 draw against Palmeiras in São Paulo.

A G20 Feriado!

The last day of this month is to be a public holiday for this year only on the occasion of the G20 Leaders Summit on that day and the next (a Saturday). The summit is to be attended by such world leaders as Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Britain’s Theresa May (the first British prime minister in this city since the 1982 war) with entourages totalling several thousand people.

35 YEARS YOUNG

Last Tuesday the 35th anniversary of Argentina’s return to democracy was celebrated, especially by Radicals (the oldest party in the ruling coalition). Strictly speaking, the anniversary does not mark the end of the military regime (which handed over power on December 10, 1983) but the surprise electoral victory of Radical Raúl Alfonsín.

MISOPROSTOL LEGAL

LANMAT (Argentina’s equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration) has approved misoprostol (a medication that can be used to conduct safe abortions) for sale in Argentine pharmacies. Previously, it was only legally available in hospitals.

THIS WEEK IN CORRUPTION

The trial of former Kirchnerite tycoon Lázaro Báez on charges of money-laundering via diverting funds from public works contracts began on Tuesday after 30 months in detention (see story on Page 6). On Thursday, teamster leader Pablo Moyano testified for over six hours in the office of prosecutor Sebastián Scalera, denying the charges of defrauding Independiente football club against him.

BUDGET TENSION

Peronist governors last week conditioned Senate approval of the 2019 Budget on the Mauricio Macri government sparing the so-called ‘Soy Fund’ (transferring a percentage of export duties to provincial and local governments), which had been slated for elimination In response to the tension, the government last Tuesday released one billion pesos (US$270 million) in compensation for provinces and municipalities after Senate Peronist majority leader Senator Miguel Pichetto laid down the new conditions for the support of governors. The government hopes to pass the Budget before the G20 Leaders Summit at the end of the month.

NEW TAXES ON THE WAY

As from next year there will be a 15-percent profits tax on sales of property, based on the difference between the cost and the price. But any real estate which is “the only family home and permanently occupied by the tax-payer” may be exempt from the new tax. Meanwhile Decree 976/18 regulates severance payments to executives exceeding the sums which would result from the mechanisms of calculation stipulated by labour legislation, even when there is consensus between the two parties.

ANTI-SEMITISM ON STREETS

INADI (the National Institute against Discrimination) head Claudio Presman told a radio interview that he would be investigating the appearance of anti-Semitic posters in the demonstrations against the sex education law outside Congress. The most controversial poster charges that “gender ideology” is the work of Jewry and Freemasonry, also implying that these forces have infiltrated President Mauricio Macri’s centre-right PRO-led administration whose party colours are yellow. Another poster displayed Adolf Hitler and a swastika. Raúl Magnasco, president of the pro-life associations Más Vida and the Partido Celeste, said that he had no knowledge of any Nazis in the march (which included a column of the neo-Nazi Bandera Vecinal party headed by Alejandro Biondini) but also added that his organisations did not enquire into the beliefs of those supporting their cause. The episode leaves several questions begging such as why the defence of unborn life should automatically mean a rejection of sex education and what is the basis for assuming that Zionism and Freemasonry are in any way interlinked?

IS BRAZIL GIVING US THE COLD SHOULDER?

While President Mauricio Macri congratulated his future Brazilian colleague Jair Bolsonaro after his electoral triumph last Sunday – and though the extreme rightist had earlier expressed appreciation of Macri “for putting an end to Dilma Kirchner” – things have not been so rosy subsequently. Paulo Guedes, Bolsonaro’s choice for economy minister, caused misgivings when he said that Mercosur would not be a priority for a Brazil seeking business with a wider world, while reports that Bolsonaro would be making Chile his first trip abroad also seemed to downgrade Argentina’s importance. Don’t they love us anymore? Or was it something to do with the football results this week?

CAMPAIGN QUESTIONS

La Nación journalist Hugo Alconada Mon ratified to La Plata judge Ernesto Kreplak that President Mauricio Macri passed his hat around among businessmen, asking “for one percent of their assets” in his successful 2015 election campaign. Kreplak is investigating ‘aportes truchos’ or bogus campaign contributions to the Cambiemos (Let’s Change) ruling coalition in Buenos Aires province in 2015 and 2017. According to Alconada Mon, Macri’s main argument was that one percent was a small price to pay because the other 99 percent would be worth a lot more with him as president. In his investigation Kreplak has already identified 1,147 of 4,721 Cambiemos contributors as social welfare recipients.

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