What has happened in the first days of October?
Aerolíneas Argentinas and Austral pilots pressing for their pay to be updated to inflation will be on strike all this weekend after talks with the government broke down, defying compulsory conciliation called on Thursday as well as repeated appeals by Frente de Todos presidential candidate Alberto Fernández to lift a stoppage likely to irk numerous voters. The strike decision was taken at a lengthy Monday assembly which caused the cancellation of over 100 flights, stranding thousands of passengers. Meanwhile low cost airlines have been crimped by a court ruling banning night-time flights at El Palomar Airport in response to the complaints of local residents.
MADE IN LANÚS
Hugo Yasky on Thursday announced the return of his CTA union grouping to the CGT umbrella, thus virtually reunifying organised labour after almost three decades of division. His audience at the CTA congress in Lanús football stadium included Frente de Todos presidential candidate Alberto Fernández (who also spoke), other Frente de Todos leaders and numerous trade union heavyweights. (See full story on Page 4.)
ONE-THIRD OF ARGENTINES ARE NOW POOR
On Monday INDEC statistics bureau announced poverty as climbing to 35.4 percent in the first half of the year as against 27.3 percent in the first six months of 2018, with some 3.25 million people slipping below the poverty line in the last 12 months to total almost 16 million. There is no optimism for the second half of the year, given the devaluation and inflation since August’s PASO primaries. (See full story on Page 8.)
PROVINCES HAVE THEIR DAY IN COURT
The Supreme Court last Tuesday decided in favour of a provincial class action, ruling by a 3-1 vote that the cuts decreed last August for income and IVA valued-added taxes, both subject to federal revenuesharing, could not be at the expense of the provinces but must be absorbed in their entirety by the national government. (See Page 5 for full story.)
MENDOZA HANDS MACRI A TIMELY ELECTORAL BOOST
Last Sunday’s provincial elections in Mendoza gave President Mauricio Macri’s faltering re-election campaign a much-needed shot in the arm when his Radical allies held the wine-rich province with an absolute majority. Mendoza City Mayor Rodolfo Suárez advanced to governor-elect by clinching 50.1 percent of the vote as against 34.8 percent for Kirchnerite Senator Anabel Fernández Sagasti representing Frente de Todos, which had narrowly won the PASO presidential primary in the previous month. While not unexpected, the victory surpassed all forecasts, doubling the Radical margin in the provincial primary.
YES, HE CAN?
President Mauricio Macri began his daily “Sí, se puede” (“Yes, we can”) marches with a bang in Belgrano last Saturday, drawing a huge and enthusiastic crowd. During the week his stops were Junín, Buenos Aires Province (Monday), some Córdoba townships (Tuesday), the Santa Fe city of Rafaela (Wednesday), Entre Ríos (Thursday) with Formosa and Bahía Blanca yesterday. Apart from repeatedly promising a brighter future and telling a disenchanted electorate he understood their message, Macri promised that English would be taught as from kindergarten and told the families of Formosa soldiers slain by guerrillas that they too would receive compensation.
NO, HE CAN’T?
An online survey by Oh Panel! opinion pollsters shows 52 percent of respondents intending to vote for the Frente de Todos ticket as against 33 percent for President Mauricio Macri, thus widening the August PASO primary lead of Frente standard-bearer Alberto Fernández by four points. While “third way” candidate Roberto Lavagna hangs onto his PASO vote of eight percent, the FIT leftist ticket has slipped to two percent, according to the survey. At district level Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal has improved her PASO performance but not enough to stop the Frente’s Axel Kicillof while City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta is heading for a runoff against Matías Lammens.
The dollar crept over the psychological 60-peso mark last week, closing yesterday at 60.09 pesos with unofficial exchange rates as high as 67.31. Country risk closed the week at 2,144 points while Central Bank reserves were down to US$ 48.34 billion on Thursday.
LÓPEZ, DE SOUSA OUT ON BAIL
The Federal Appeals Court yesterday ordered Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio to free the imprisoned Kirchnerite businessmen Cristóbal López and Fabián De Sousa on bail as they await trial on graft and money-laundering charges. Bonadio set bail at 60 million pesos each and the release of both men is expected by early next week. Meanwhile the judge himself was in trouble with the Council of Magistrates reviving two 2017 malfeasance cases against him on Thursday.
MOLDES RESIGNS POST
Federal Appeals Prosecutor Germán Moldes, 72, resigned last Monday and requested his pension, pleading health problems as well as having reached retirement age. Although Moldes did indeed undergo major cardiac surgery last month with numerous minor strokes previously, changing political winds are also thought to have influenced his decision. In the post for almost quarter a century (since 1995), Moldes kept a low public profile until early 2015 when he headed a massive march demanding a full investigation of the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, thereafter becoming a virulent critic of then President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in her last year in office.
CONVICTIONS IN CHACO
Ex-prosecutor Roberto Mazzoni and former penitentiary warden César Casco on Wednesday became Chaco’s first civilians to be convicted for crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.
NAZI ARTIFACTS TO MUSEUM
The Museum of the Holocaust in Belgrano has taken custody of a collection of Nazi memorabilia confiscated by police in mid-2017.
DRINK-DRIVING: HALF ADMIT TO DOING IT
A survey by the Chamber of Argentine Brewers has revealed that half of Argentine car-drivers regularly imbibe alcoholic beverages before sitting behind the wheel although 82 percent of the respondents backed “zero tolerance” for drunken driving. While 97 percent expressed familiarity with the notion of a “designated driver,” only half said that they had ever seen it put into practice. Last year 7,274 Argentines died in traffic accidents as against 1,600 in Spain with a slightly larger population while the United States totals 32,000 road deaths with a population more than seven times higher.
PICHETTO DETAILS YET ANOTHER CAREFULLY CONSTRUCTED PLAN
Interviewed by Editorial Perfil journalism students, Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto reacted to drone photos of shantytown sales of cocaine and marijuana by saying: “You have to dynamite all this, blow everything up.” Aside from these explosive comments, President Mauricio Macri’s running-mate also said that many people (including the Church and other religious groupings) were quite happy with poverty being stuck in the 30-35 percent range because they could profit from it but the only real answer was for people to go out to find work. Argentina is a “very generous country” letting in peddlers, smugglers and drug-traffickers (giving as an example of the latter a Paraguayan in a drone photo he showed the students), Pichetto continued. “They’re all coming back, (former Supreme Court justice Eugenio Zaffaroni, Madres de Plaza de Mayo,everybody” to the Frente de Todos, Pichetto further said, forecasting friction between the two halves of the opposition ticket (Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) and a constitutional reform should they win. “I wasn’t in the government,” he also said.
SODA STEREO RETURN!
Legendary Argentine rockets Soda Stereo have announced a return to touring, in tribute to late member Gustavo Cerati (See Page 13 for more).