Argentine Mondays: July 3rd, 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.
The Poll War begins
As in any democracy, when there are elections, there is also a feverish flow of polls predicting what will happen when the electorate hit the voting booths. Last weekend, the primaries, or PASO in Spanish (Primarias Abiertas Simultáneas y Obligatorias) began with the deadline to register candidates — this weekend, the first numbers came out.
According to a voter intention poll by the private consulting firm Management & Fit, the elections for Senators in Buenos Aires province would be won by Cambiemos (President Mauricio Macri's governing alliance) with 28,5%, but by a very small margin. The numbers show that Cambiemos is just 1% ahead of the newly formed Unidad Ciudadana, which is led by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with 27,8%. Undecided voters account for 3,7% of the vote according to the poll and are considered by M&F to be key in deciding the election.
Meanwhile, in the City of Buenos Aires, Radical lawmaker Elisa Carrió is ahead by 20 points: she allegedly has 39.4% of the intended vote while the nearest runner up stands at 19.6%. In addition, M&F polls show that Cambiemos is behind in Córdoba (a province that buoyed their victory in 2015) and is doing well in Santa Fe (another important province in terms of votes).
A rally goes awry
As well as polls, you can always expect an endless series of rallies during an election campaign. Unfortunately, a rally for the newly formed Unidad Ciudadana that was held in Lomas de Zamora (a Buenos Aires province district) didn't go to plan as a platform caved in, injuring four people. Apparently there were 20 people onstage and a large group
“Two people — a girl and me — fractured their fibulas and another two have fractured fingers. Luckily, for the rest, it was just a big fright,” said Guillermo Viñuales, who led the rally. He's currently the Cabinet Chief of the Kirchnerite mayor Martín Insaurralde.
Tragedy in Tigre
Over the weekend, the body of Georgina Soledad Díaz was found in the Paraná river after having gone missing 13 days earlier with her 2-year-old son, Thiago. Her stepfather, José Luis Núñez, has been arrested in connection with the murder — she was found with a bullet in her back. Thiago is still missing: a friend of Georgina has testified that he in fact Núñez's son and the result of a non-consensual relationship.
Economy: tidbits for Monday small-talk
Yesterday, the prices of petrol and gasoil increased by 7.2% and 6% respectively in the City of Buenos Aires and outer Buenos Aires. This has translated to AR$ 22.99 per litre for the highest quality petrol provided by Shell.
After four weeks of decreasing numbers, there has been a slight increase in M&F's Political and Economic optimism indices. The emphasis should be on "slight": the Economic index is up by 0.5 points while the Political index increased by just 0.2 points.
According to the Argentine Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (CAME), retail sales fell by 1.4% in June, in comparison with the same month in 2016.
Ecolatina, a private consulting firm, reported that private sector loans have seen a year-on-year increase of 39% for the month of June and the total lending stock has risen by 16.5% since December 2016.
The low-cost flights keep coming
After Norwegian low-cost flights to London erupted on the market, national Andes Airlines is now providing five direct weekly flights from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú (where the famous falls are). It's not the first direct flight, but it's the first low-cost option. The airline's CEO, Julián Cook, has said that they will also be providing flights to Córdoba, Bariloche and Tucumán province that are 40% cheaper than other airlines. Not bad!
Meet the Messis
As practically everybody must know by now, football superstar Lionel Messi got married on Friday to his childhood sweetheart, Antonela Rocuzzo. People weren't supposed to take pictures or have their phones on them but this is 2017 — social media erupted with videos of the newlyweds dancing with family and (often very famous) friends. One of the highlights: a video of the Messis dancing with Sergio "Kun" Agüero.
One of River Plate footbal club's greats Fernando Ezequiel Cavenaghi retired over the weekend, playing his last match on Saturday with a big party in the team's Monumental stadium. Cavenaghi came onto the pitch with his wife and children: he is one of River's ten top scorers.
Argentina's first professional rugby pitch has been inaugurated in a prison, synthetic grass and all. With Vice President Gabriela Michetti present, the San Martín penal prison inaugurated "The Colosseum" on Saturday — the team's name is "The Spartans." They are allowed out of prison to play against the more traditional rugby clubs like Newman and CUBA: they have been playing since 2009 and the rate of recidivism in the Spartans in 6% (in comparison to the startling average of 65% in the province of Buenos Aires).
"The Impossible Goal"
Argentine Juventus forward Paulo Dybala scored an "impossible goal" over the weekend in a charity match held in his hometown Laguna Larga, in Córdoba province. In a video that went viral, we can see how he prepared to execute a free kick while over ten players crowded the goal to stop him from scoring — but it wasn't enough.
What to look out for this week:
The G20 kicks off on Thursday, and President Mauricio Macri is set to arrive in Hamburg at midday with First Lady Juliana Awada and Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, among others. He is also set to have his first bilateral meeting with the new French president, Emmanuel Macron. The next G20 meeting will be in Buenos Aires in 2018, so he he could pick up some hosting tips, advice on décor, etc. while he's at it.
Wimbledon has kicked off today, with seven Argentine players to look out for in the prestigious tennis tournament. Four are set to play today, Carlos Berlocq (at the time of this newsletter, he has been eliminated by Nikoloz Basilashvili), Renzo Olivo, Facundo Bagnis and Nicolás Kicker. Tomorrow, Juan Martín del Potro, Horacio Zeballos and Diego Schwartzman will be playing.
If knowledge is power, being informed helps you power through the morning. Or at least have a conversation or two. Happy Monday!