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Argentine Mondays: June 19th, 2017

Bad weather, bad times

The South of Argentina has been hit by storms throughout the weekend and the Repunte, a fishing boat, sank after being caught in waves of up to seven metres high and winds of 50 kilometers per hour off the coast of Rawson, Chubut province. There were 12 people on board and so far, two have been rescued and three have been confirmed dead (although only one has been positively identified). The rescue mission has been hampered by the bad weather, although you can see below that a helicopter managed to save one of the crew members who had been in the freezing water for three hours. He had hypothermia and is now stable in hospital, but the Coastguard warns that for the remaining seven crew members that are still missing, each hour represents a lower chance of survival.

"I was in the kitchen when I suddenly realised that water was coming in on all sides and I ran out desperately to the deck but I don't want to talk anymore, please," said Lucas Trillo, one of the survivors.

That wasn't all, though. In Santa Fe province, three fishermen have gone missing after also getting caught in a storm. They were last seen clinging to the infrastructure of an old hotel on an island of lake Melincué, which fell as another boat tried to rescue them.

There's always one, isn't there?

At any award ceremony, there's always one speech that falls short. At Argentina's prestigious television and radio Martín Fierro awards, there's always politics. So journalist Diego Brancatelli's faux pas onstage after a program he's in won the Best Journalism Program Award shouldn't be that surprising but it's still cringeworthy. Brancatelli, a Kirchnerite journalist whose brand is to stoke controversy onscreen, stepped up to the microphone with a box: first, he took out an egg saying "This is the year of the huevos."

Despite a colleague trying to get him to stop and the awkward silence, he went on to show a small doll of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, saying that he was giving it to journalist and TV personality Jorge Lanata to "close the political divide" known as "la grieta." Lanata is decidedly anti-Kirchnerite and was also in the running for the same prize. Nobody laughed and his colleagues hurriedly left the stage. Why don't people just stick to giving thanks?

Corruption news!

The former Planning Minister Julio de Vido has denied any collusion with the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in a string of 14 tweets. Several media outlets have posited that his team agreed to a bribe worth US$ 25 million in order to pave the way (no pun intended) for extending a gas network project.

The federal prosecutor in charge of the massive corruption case involving Odebrecht making payments to partners in Argentina, Federico Delgado, called for more to be done on Saturday and said that it was important not to "sit around waiting for information to drip down from Brazil and the United States." Regarding De Vido, Delgado said that "reducing the Odebrecht case to public servants would imply trimming the truth."

The economy: tidbits for Monday small-talk

  • According to the Argentine Oil And Gas Institue (IAPG), the total oil production for the month of April fell by 14.9% compared to April 2016. Gas production, on the other hand, increased by 0.2%.

  • Speaking of gas, spokespeople from the Energy Ministry said yesterday that "there will be no problems with gas supplies" this winter. Which is good because it started getting cold this weekend.

  • Despite the hype and the adverts and the guilt trips, sales apparently fell by 3.6% on Father's Day, according to the Argentine Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (CAME). The average receipt showed spending of AR$ 570, which is in actual fact an 18.7% increase compared to last year, but inflation was higher so the CAME alleges that this belies "cautious consumption."

  • Management & Fit's optimism indices were published again in Clarín and people are apparently more pessimistic on the political front, with the Political Optimism Index falling by 0.9 points (the given reason was the pulling of pensions owed to disabled people). Meanwhile, the Economic Optimism Index has remained stable at 33.5.

Football's unlucky star

In football, as usual, some won and some lost. River lost 3-2 to Racing on Sunday in what Marcelo Gallardo, their coach, was "the worst match of the semester." Gallardo also recognised that there's a possibility of bringing in a new goalkeeper next semester, as River's current goalkeeper Augusto Batalla has already been walking on eggshells somewhat. In line with the mood of the match, one River fan fell from the stands and is in hospital with "serious injuries."

Meanwhile, River's classic rival Boca Juniors may have won their match against Aldosivi by a comfortable 4-0, but were plagued by bad luck on their travels and were forced to stay in Mar del Plata overnight afterwards. They weren't able to fly there because of intense fog previously but before boarding to return to Buenos Aires, they found that the aeroplane's windshield was broken. Thankfully they had already extended their hotel reservations. Nobody could explain how the windshield mishap had happened.

What to look out for this week:

  • Tomorrow, Tuesday June 20th, is a feriado or bank holiday to commemorate "General Manuel Belgrano’s Passage Into Immortality," or simply the day of his death in 1820. It's better known as Flag Day, because Belgrano was the person who created the Argentine flag (or at least, the modern version is based on his design).

  • One of the celebrations during the national holiday is expected to be a "Cristinista" mass, i.e. a service held by supporters of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Sarandí. She will be the only speaker and is expected to formally present "Unión Ciudadana" and to confirm whether or not she will be running as their candidate in the primaries.

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