Argentine Mondays: July 17th, 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.
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On Sunday, Venezuelan opposition held a symbolic poll in which voters were asked if they supported President Nicolás Maduro's call for a constituent election. This symbolic vote reached Argentina, where thousands of Venezuelans went to different parts of Buenos Aires City such as Las Cañitas, Abasto, Tribunales and microcentro to vote against their president's reform ideas. Worldwide, 7.2 million Venezuelans worldwide voted against Maduro.
Venezuelans voting against President Nicolás Maduro's Constituent Assembly in Abasto. Source: La Nación.
Quick context: Venezuela is currently undergoing a severe political and economic crisis and Maduro is attempting to set up a Constituent Assembly (a reform that will be put to popular vote on July 30th) which could rewrite the country's constitution. The idea has been criticized by some international actors as a move towards dictatorship. The opposition intended to pressure the government and highlight public opposition to the measure, although the poll is officially considered illegal. These votes were held after three months of protests, during which over 100 people have been killed in political clashes.
Seven years of yes
Last Saturday (July 15th) marked the seventh anniversary of Argentina's approval of same-sex marriage — the first country in the region to do so. Since then, according to national Registry Office, over 16,200 couples have tied the knot: the numbers also show that half of the ceremonies took place in Buenos Aires City and Buenos Aires province.
Marina Mironova and Oxana Tomofeeva, a Russian couple that married in 2014 after being persecuted in their country due to their sexual orientation. Source: Clarín.
However, several have pointed out that there's still some way to go: César Cigliutti, president of the Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA), told La Nación that "We can get married [...] but we don't have the legal tools to defend [ourselves] against acts of discrimination and violence due to our sexual orientation and gender expression. Changes to [Argentine] anti-discrimination laws are a 29-year-old debt to our community."
Yes, the PASO or primaries, again. With less than a month to go before the vote, this will come up a lot.
President Mauricio Macri and Buenos Aires province Governor María Eugenia Vidal led their first timbreo or "doorbell-ringing session" across neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires province on Saturday. Highlights include Macri telling people "not to worry about the dollar [exchange rate]"
Some classic he-said, she-said: 1País candidate Sergio Massa appealed to Macri in front of supporters at a rally on Saturday, saying "Stop listening to [the] noise and listen to the people. Change the way the economy is going, because people are not okay." Meanwhile, Buenos Aires City candidate for Cambiemos, Elisa Carrió, said in a timbreo in Santa Fe that "it's important that Cambiemos win the elections [to] make sure that [Argentina] no longer has delinquents in the judicial system or in Congress" and to "bring in foreign investment."
As the campaigns heat up, so has social media. While First Lady Juliana Awada has been posting pictures of Antonia Macri, their young daughter who featured prominently during the 2015 presidential campaign, a Game-of-Thrones-inspired political video was released by Ahora Buenos Aires (one of many parties fighting for a sport in Congress to represent Buenos Aires City). The video was aptly timed to coincide with the release of GOT's seventh season, but with perhaps less hype and Ed Sheeran.
Economy: tidbits for Monday small-talk
According to a new study, small and medium-sized businesses (PYMEs) allocate an average of 42% of their revenue to pay taxes. The study, released by the Argentine Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (CAME), surveyed 250 industrial PYMEs from different economic sectors. CAME President Fabián Torrío, said that Argentina is "well known for its tax burden," which "makes it impossible for PYMEs to be competitive."
The national government keeps breaking public works records: the consulting firm Invenómica registered a 197% rise in the value of public tenders: "in the first semester of 2017, tenders reached a total of AR$ 144.7 billion and in the same timeframe of 2016, they reached 48.7 billion."
According to the Index of Source and Destination Prices (IPOD), the price of agricultural food products multiplies by 4.84 between the producer and the final consumer. The highest differences were discovered in oranges (with the price 9.71 times coming in higher) and pears (9.16).
Meanwhile, in Management & Fit's weekly report of the country's Political and Economic optimism, things are not looking good on the economic front due to heightened concerns over prices and a 0.2 point drop to 33.2.
An uncomfortable trend
In keeping with the string of Nazi-memorabilia-related stories making headlines in the past month, a raid on a home in Alta Gracia (Córdoba province) turned up books, magazines, paintings and a weathervane emblazoned with a swastika and the symbol of the Schutzstaffel's (SS) 7th Mountain Regiment. The house has a windmill in the back yard with a swastika which, according to local newspaper La Voz del Interior, was spotted by a journalist and reported to the police.
"I got there because of an ad that I saw in a downtown shop, publicising the sale of an antique pickup. That was two weeks ago: when I got to the house, I saw a windmill [...] with a very big swastika and other Nazi-related symbols. I was shocked to the point that I didn't even knock to ask about the vehicle," said the journalist.
Let it snow, let it snow
As any reader who opened their window over the weekend will know, it got cold over the weekend. In the South, there were snowstorms and temperatures plummeted, causing highways and airports to close in Bariloche (Río Negro province) and San Martín de los Andes (Neuquén). Bariloche had opened its airport again yesterday, but a private plane crashed in the early hours of Monday, so despite nobody being hurt, it's currently closed again. Make sure to double check if you're planning a trip to either city!
18-year-old Argentine tennis player Axel Geller won the Wimbledon Juniors Doubles championship alongside Taiwanese Yu Hsiou Hsu...after losing in the Singles final to the Spanish player Alejandro Davidovich that same day. "Two weeks ago, I had never played on grass before. This has been amazing," said Geller before playing the final.
Las Leonas, the national female hockey team beat India 3-0 on Sunday to move onto the quarter finals in the Hockey World League in South Africa. They will play against Ireland on Tuesday.
A Pope Francis marble
No, not a marble statue of Pope Francis, a marble paying tribute to the Argentine pope. The last remaining marble factory, "Bolitas Tinka," has created a series of little pontifical glass balls as a way to avoid crisis — they allegedly plan on making Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi marbles, as well as personalised options in future.
What to look out for this week:
Tomorrow is the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 terrorist attack on the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), a Jewish community centre, which killed 85 people and injured hundreds. Macri is expected to take part in the tribute set to take place tomorrow at the new AMIA centre located on Pasteur 633 (Buenos Aires City). The AMIA case is still open.
New faces in government as of today: Macri will swear in two new cabinet ministers, namely Alejandro Finocchiaro as Education Minister and Oscar Aguad as Defence Minister. They will be replacing Esteban Bullrich and Julio Martínez respectively, who are campaigning as PASO candidates.
More cold! Unfortunately, this polar cold wave is set to continue until the middle of the week, according to the National Meteorological Service. Bottom line: plan as little outside activity until Thursday.
The government is allegedly preparing an Emergency Decree to launch a new loans for those under Universal Child Allowance social welfare. Prepare for some heat around where the money will come from.
If knowledge is power, being informed helps you power through the morning. Or at least have a conversation or two. Happy Monday!