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Argentine Mondays: July 31st, 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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Venezuela protests

The world is talking about Venezuela today, and Argentina is no exception. As the country's President Nicolás Maduro celebrated yesterday's highly controversial vote for a Constituent Assembly, during which 14 people are reported to have been killed, hundreds of exiled Venezuelans protested against it Buenos Aires, calling Maduro a "dictator." In addition, the Argentine Foreign Embassy issued a press release saying that the country will not recognise the result of the election due to its illegality while urging the Venezuelan government and the opposition to engage in dialogue.

For more background, check out the original article on Coriolismo.

PASO updates

Yes, the PASO or primaries, again. With less than two weeks to go before the vote, this will come up a lot (and then everything will be about the October legislative elections!)

  • San Luis province held PAS elections (not a typo: they weren't mandatory, meaning that the "O" for obligatorias is dropped) yesterday, with a very low turn out and only one party in the voting booth for those who did show up. Other parties have already decided their candidates, so there will be more choice in October.

  • More PASO, more polls and more confusion. Former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is seeking to be elected as Senator for the province of Buenos Aires, is in the lead in most new polls. The media outlet Cronista Comercial has taken 11 surveys and worked out the average numbers for each candidate, showing a 33.45% lead for Cristina, followed by Cambiemos candidate Esteban Bullrich with 29.01%

  • President Mauricio Macri is taking part in the Cambiemos campaign across the country, touring the provinces in the final run up to the PASO elections on August 13th. Apparently, campaigning will be an afternoon activity, while mornings will be reserved for policymaking and being the president. Candidates are no longer allowed to hold events to get more votes, so having Macri tour the country is a way to rally support without Cambiemos violating electoral law.

  • The governor of Buenos Aires province, María Eugenia Vidal, greatly criticized Cristina, questioning her image change on the campaign trail and saying that "When you [Cristina] weat jeans or a poncho because you think it'll get you votes, everyone can tell [...] I believe that a person must be the same both in life and in politics. Costumes are useless."

Campaign face palm

In other updates, the campaigns are getting more intense and we’re getting bombarded with more and more campaign propaganda which tends to hit-or-miss with voters. One video, from 1País's Matías Tombolini, missed the most of us on Sunday. The general idea is pretty clear: there's not enough money and for many in Argentina, buying meat is as luxurious as buying expensive jewellery. However, the effect of the serious phrases condemning is somewhat marred by a Sauron-like voice: alongside the bizarre clips of meat, the candidates voice comes through rather creepily in slow motion.

Someone on Tombolini's editing team is having a worse Monday than you are.

Milagro Sala

Jailed Tupac Amaru leader Milagro Sala is back in the news and national debate as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR or CIDH in Spanish) urged the government on Friday to change her current imprisonment to house arrest or "be freed under a controlled arrangement" as her detention is considered detrimental to her health.

According to Francisco Eguiguren, the head of the IACHR in Argentina, “The harassment due to excessive vigilance, disciplinary measures [as well as] a multitude of judicial processes has created a state of distress that affects her mental and moral integrity [therefore] the commission concludes […] that her permanent presence in prison puts her life in severe danger.”

For more background, check out the original article on Coriolismo.

What historically high exchange rate?

Cambiemos government officials showed themselves to be particularly laid back over the weekend after the exchange rate hit a record high last week, reaching AR$ 18 to the dollar in some banks on Friday. Production Minister Francisco Cabrera said in an interview over the weekend that there was "no need to worry [the exchange rate] probably won't keep increasing" and "the Argentine economy will grow by 3%."

Another optimist was Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio, who said “I’m not worried about the price of the dollar. We have to get used to a flexible exchange rate, it happens in countries all over the world, specifically those that are doing well.”

Tourism goes North

Yes, that was a pun on Argentine tourism in Northern tourism doing well, as in, not going South.

Anyway, the provinces of Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, Catamarca, Corrientes, Misiones, Santiago del Estero and La Rioja had the best winter season on record regarding tourism. The Iguazú Falls saw 24% more visits than 2016, Salta province welcomed 245 thousand tourists over the month of July (11% more than last year) and La Rioja saw 90% of its hotels occupied by tourists. According to the Tourism Minister Gustavo Santos, the increase is due to better infrastructure, which is in turn the result of the government's Plan Belgrano, a policy which focuses on investing in northern provinces.

New desktop image? Salta's Calchaquí Valley. Source: And Beyond.

What to look out for this week:

  • Low pressure in southern Buenos Aires province, leading to drizzle and cold, intense wind until Wednesday in both the province and the city. Look out for loose tiles in the city to avoid explosive puddles!

  • With the dollar at AR$ 18, it's set to be an interesting first week for the new head of the Central Bank, Enrique Szewach. The economist, writer and journalist still has to be approved by the Senate in order to remain in his post.

If knowledge is power, being informed helps you power through the morning. Or at least have a conversation or two. Happy Monday!

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