Argentine Mondays: June 12th, 2017
Welcome to Argentine Mondays, your Monday morning update on what happened in Argentina while you were otherwise engaged over the weekend. Sit back and enjoy while the morning caffeine kicks in.
Braulio Herrera and Josefa Carrozeri, an elderly married couple, were kidnapped on Saturday night in their Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Temperley and made headlines on Sunday as their kidnappers crashed the car into a tree while being pursued by the police. The couple died instantly along with one of their three kidnappers, who had asked for a AR$ 20,000 ransom. Their lifelong neighbours held a vigil and marched in protest on Sunday, putting the district mayor Martín Insaurralde in the hot seat for what they say has been a rise in violence.
The informal economy
According to a study by Argentine Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (CAME), illegal business has increased over the past nine months, with 86.728 illegal street stalls in 465 cities surveyed making almost AR$ 6 billion in May of this year. Apparently, the rise in the rate of legal stands at fairs is a potential cause, while authorities upping the ante on illegal businesses in Buenos Aires City has meant that many uprooted owners have taken their business to the interior of the country.
Meanwhile, Página 12 published an opinion poll carried out by the Centre of Public Opinion Studies (CEOP) which states that 66.1% of those surveyed don't think that the economy will improve this year. However, not everyone is pessimistic: in an interview with La Nación, economist Miguel Bein remarked that "[Argentina] is on it's way to an 18% annual [inflation rate] by 2018." Here's to hoping, Mr. Bein.
School assembly takes things too far
On Saturday, the Ministry of Education released a statement wholly rejecting a joint school assembly in which teenagers and children took part in a mock crucifixion in a bizarre bid to allegedly "promote peace." The youngest participant was nine years old. In a statement, the Ministry held that "the exposure of children and adolescents to simulations of violent and cruel acts violates their human rights and is inadmissible [in the] promotion of peace worldwide." The incident took place last Wednesday in Humahuaca, Jujuy province, in a workshop organised by Claretian priest Jesús Olmedo, who said that "[The boy] asked to be a part of it [...] If that's a crime, let someone brave enough try to denounce it." The heads of the schools that took part in the "crucifixion for peace" will allegedly be punished.
There were no football matches this weekend, but still plenty to talk about aside from Rafael Nadal's tenth Roland Garros win.
The Pumas were defeated on Saturday by the English rugby team in a test match, losing 34-38 in the final minutes of the game. To add insult to injury, some English fans decided that one corner of the stands needed a flag with the Union Jack and the words "There's some corner of foreign field that is forever England." Very subtle. The stadium immediately heard intense whistling and booing, so the organization forced the fans to take the offending flag down
The Argentine national football team has started somewhat on the wrong foot, with José Luis Gómez having to return immediately from Singapore due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. The match against Singapore is tomorrow, Tuesday 13th, at 09:00 (Argentina time).
Nazi mementos and mummies
No, that's not an inside joke or anything. Over the weekend, an Adolf Hitler bust, mummified animals, prehistoric pots and ancient stone tools were among the objects confiscated from two "commercial locations" in Vicente López and San Isidro in police raids. Several of the objects are allegedly included in UNESCO's Red List of Chinese Cultural Objects at Risk. There are few details on this bizarre story so far (like who had these things, the specific location, etc.), so stay tuned!
Meanwhile, in Bariloche...
Members of the Bicicletas por la Vida (Bicycles for Life) NGO took to the highway yesterday with a strange proposal to reduce the number of speeding cars along Route 82 in Río Negro province: pointing hair dryers at them. While one did so, a woman held a computer on the hood of a car, apparently fooling drivers into thinking that the setup involved some high-tech speed monitoring. "We did this for National Road Security Day and to show that we always need serious checkpoints. We saw this in England where they couldn't get people to slow down on a certain street and we thought [it would be a good idea] for Route 82, where they really hit the accelerator," said one of the group, Martín Lambrecht to De Bariloche.
If you haven't seen the video of the grandma from Nottingham that inspired this, you really should.
Antarctic explorer Jorge Leal dies at 96
Argentina lost one of its greats this weekend: General Jorge Edgar Leal, the head of the first Argentine expedition to the South Pole, died on Saturday evening in Olivos. Not only did Leal make it to the South Pole on December 10, 1965: he did so without maps through unknown territory. He also founded the Argentine Esperanza Base in the area in 1953 (one of just two civilian bases in Antarctica). In 1970 he was named the National Director for Antarctica, a post he held for several years, and he retired from the army in 2003.
"Placing a little pole with the [Argentine] nation's flag in the southernmost extreme of the planet gave me the biggest thrill of my life," said Leal in a 2014 interview.
What to look out for this week:
More foreign dignitaries! Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, will be visiting President Mauricio Macri today. The agenda: to strengthen bilateral ties and to talk about a deal between Mercosur and the European Union. According to the Argentine Chamber of Commerce and Services (CAC), Argentine exports to Portugal increased by 151% in 2016, so the meeting should be a fairly happy one.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is in Argentina and will meet with the Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolás Dujovne on Tuesday to talk about public spending, fiscal deficit and the 2018 budget.
Teachers unions in the Buenos Aires province have threatened to go on strike again and will sit down once more at the negotiation table with the provincial administration today at 17:00 in La Plata. The main issue will be the refunding (or lack thereof) of salaries withheld during the extensive strikes at the beginning of the year.
If knowledge is power, being informed helps you power through the morning. Or at least have a conversation or two. Happy Monday!