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What we learned this week: March 27 to April 3

A pick of some of the headlines that caught our eye over the last seven days in Argentina.


With the advent of a second wave of the pandemic announced by a steady stream of five-digit daily numbers for confirmed cases of contagion throughout the week, there were 2,373,153 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 56,023 deaths at the time of press yesterday against 2,291,051 cases and 55,235 deaths on the previous Friday. The government immediately raised the alarm and did not wait for Easter week to begin, announcing on Palm Sunday the headquarters of the public sector and recommending night curfews for all districts with more than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past fortnight – a criterion applicable to this city and three provincial capitals, as well as more than 40 other districts spread over 13 provinces. On Monday, the City Hall announced the long-awaited announcement that it will start the registration and allocation of duty from 70 to 80 years for vaccination, immediately for those aged 75 to 79 and from Thursday for others . Alarmed by more than 14,000 cases on Monday (the biggest since October), the national government started adjusting new restrictions, but not before next week, in order not to interfere with Easter tourism (even though experts feared it would accelerate contagion). On Tuesday, the province of Buenos Aires banned all activities from 2 am to 6 am in 110 of its 135 districts and limited social gatherings to 10 people. The following day, Argentina’s most populous province set a new record of 8,063 cases (more than half of the national total of 16,056), well above the previous record of 7,468 set seven months ago. One million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine were due to arrive on Thursday from Beijing aboard an Aerolíneas Argentinas flight, while yesterday another vaccine-laden flight was scheduled to arrive from Moscow after a delay, although Health Minister Carla Vizzotti failed to specify how many doses it would contain Sputnik V. The 10 flights from Russia have brought 3.97 million doses so far out of a total of almost five million with almost four million people vaccinated (although only about 17 percent with one double dose).


The national statistics office of INDEC reported on Wednesday that 42% of the population was below the poverty line at the end of last year, against 35.5% at the end of 2019 – from 16 to 19 million people. Exactly a quarter of that amount (10.5%) is considered destitute. The most serious problem is that a clear majority of children under the age of 15 – 57.7% or 6.3 million in total – belong to poor families. Another vast pocket of major impoverishment is the urban ring of Greater Buenos Aires around the Federal Capital (with almost 12 million inhabitants according to the 2010 census) with 51% below the poverty line. The only other urban area with major impoverishment is the capital of the Chaco province, Resistencia (53.6 percent). The poverty figure peaked at 47 percent in the second quarter of 2020 due to the total blockage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


The government renewed its attempt to postpone PASO primaries and mid-term elections by at least a month, inviting several key opposition figures (not including any coalition party presidents Juntos por el Cambio) to Casa Rosada on Tuesday. Friday, while Interior Minister Eduardo Wado ‘de Pedro said he would take the proposal to Congress next Tuesday. The reaction of the helm of Juntos por el Cambio the following day was that they could be open to assess a postponement if the pandemic data increased during the winter (with the biggest doubts coming from the radicals and the province of Mendoza), but “from none point of view ”They would accept the elimination of PASO primaries, describing this mechanism as vital for defining candidacies among coalition partners, suggesting that the governing Frente de Todos coalition was indifferent to the primaries due to its top-down structure. The opposition leadership also said it would need to unify positions within the coalition before making a final answer. The current electoral calendar sets an August 8 date for the PASO primaries with the evidence on October 24.


The bill that raises the income tax floor to 150,000 pesos a month was unanimously approved (with 241 of the 257 deputies voting in favor and three abstaining) by the Chamber of Deputies in a 20-hour marathon last weekend . The Senate’s rapid approval is expected next week, after discussion at its Budget and Labor Committees last week.


Argentines have around US $ 250.4 billion stockpiled at home and abroad, in addition to the financial system, according to estimates by the INDEC statistics office. That sum is more than six times the Central Bank’s foreign currency reserves (which closed at $ 39.387 billion last year). Economists attribute this behavior to decades of instability, recession, inflation and expropriations that undermine confidence in the peso as a reserve currency and the local financial system as a safe place to deposit savings.


The Federal Court of Criminal Cassation confirmed on Thursday the conviction of former La Rioja federal judge Roberto Catalán for involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, which he had previously only been accused of covering up. Survivors testified that he not only knew about the disappearance of Adán Díaz Romero and the torture of at least eight political prisoners without doing anything to prevent him, but he also attended the interrogations. The judges also considered any appeal to the Supreme Court to be “inadmissible”. Elsewhere, Martín Soria was sworn in as Argentina’s new minister of justice on Monday.


International Transgender Visibility Day last Wednesday was marked by a demonstration outside Congress calling for Tehuel de la Torre, 21, a young transgender who has disappeared since March 11, to “reappear alive”. A man has already been arrested for the crime before finding any dead bodies.


Radio star Mario Pergolini resigned as senior vice president at Boca Juniors on Wednesday after clashing with the other vice president, club idol Juan Román Riquelme, about the communication policy that Pergolini considered his strike. The Football Council led by Riquelme opened accounts on Instagram and YouTube under the name @Bocapredio that directly clashed with the official channels created and managed by Pergolini. The latter denied any problems with club president Jorge Amor Ameal or even with Riquelme, praising the former for putting the club first, but insisted that he could not continue because he felt “uncomfortable” because he was unable to translate his “vision” into reality.

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