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Argentine Mondays: August 28th, 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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Where is Santiago Maldonado?

Santiago Maldonado, the 28-year-old artisan last seen on August 1st, is still missing despite the nationwide manhunt to find him. The gobernment has been facing a lot of heat from human rights organizations and Argentine citizens who consider the State to be responsible for his disappearance: the gendarmería is alleged to have arrested him and for many, is is a case of abduction by the force. Social media erupted over the weekend with people asking the question that has dominated the month of August: where is Santiago Maldonado?

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel blamed the government directly for Maldonado's disappearance and for "covering it up" in a radio interview, calling for Security Minister Patricia Bullrich to resign. Estela de Carlotto, the head of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo organization, also criticised Bullrich, calling her "an enemy of democracy."

Bullrich herself was featured on the Mirtha Legrand show, in a very awkward interview where she told the Argentine diva that she was "strongly convinced" that the gendarmería was not involved and that "the government and human rights organizations have to be on the same side, not in conflict with each other" as there should be unity in the search for Santiago. It would seem that nobody got that memo.

The economy: tidbits for Monday small-talk

  • According to Bloomberg, Argentina's national oil company YPF has hired Citigroup to help sell its controlling stake in the country's largest gas distributor, Metrogas (YPF owns 70%). If confirmed, the divestment would be the largest M&A deal of the year.

  • The head of the IMF's Western Hemisphere Department, Alejandro Werner, has said that he is "optimistic" about Argentina because a "strong economic recovery process due to a rebound in investment." He did caution, however, that there is a need for "microeconomic reform."

  • Exports from the province of Córdoba fell by 6.2% in the first semester in comparison to 2016, with a total of US$ 4 billion.

  • According to First Capital Group (FCG), two out of every three provinces ended 2016 with fiscal deficit, with Santa Cruz, Chubut and Jujuy at the podium.

Football returns

The Superliga, or Argentina's First Division tournament, is finally back after almost two months! Boca Juniors won their first opener, defeating the home side Olimpo 3-0 on Sunday with Carlos Tévez watching from the bleachers (but nobody really paid any attention to him). In addition, the first clásico between San Lorenzo and Racing led to a 1-1 tie.

Turning the other cheek

A letter written by a teacher from Córdoba province went viral on Saturday after she had been "humiliated" at a road toll. Apparently Bianca Vanni had forgotten her wallet and the man in charge of the booth, Martín, didn't believe her and called the police. Since the experience, which allegedly left her "crying and feeling helpless," Vanni decided to write a letter which went viral. In an interview on Saturday, she said "I am an educator [and] I think we live in a world full of violence: the first thing we do is always to insult, hurt each other and act without thinking. That's exactly what I tried not to do."

The letter is well worth the read, closing with:

"I'm sending on a quarter kilo of criollitos from the most delicious bakery in Córdoba, worth AR$ 22 (almost the amount that you refused to forgive me for because I forgot my wallet). In addition, I'm enclosing AR$ 50 in the bag so when two idiots like myself also forget their wallets, you can use that money. I myself am interested in collaborating with my fellow [citizens] and I have no qualms putting money from my own pocket to help others. Having solidarity isn't giving away our surplus, Martín, it's [actually] giving away half of your only alfajor that is your entire [snack] to someone who is as hungry as you to be able to cover part of their hunger. Maybe you didn't go to kindergarten: that's where we work on the ability to share."

Source: La Nación

Wrong number

We've all sent messages we wish we could take back, but this misunderstanding had consequences more serious than a very red face. An 18-year-old was arrested over the weekend for sending threatening SMS messages to the Cambiemos senatorial candidate for Buenos Aires province, Esteban Bullrich. There was an extensive security operation around detaining him, but officials soon found out that he didn't actually want to hurt the former Education Minister: he had allegedly seen his number on his girlfriend's phone under the name "Esteban Cambiemos" and assumed she was cheating on him. Unfortunately for him, the number belonged not to a lover but to the real Esteban from Cambiemos.

Source: Página12

The young man's identity and current relationship status have not been revealed to the media.

What to look out for this week

  • Remember the PASO primary elections? They seem so long ago. It was announced over the weekend that the final results for the province of Buenos Aires which were too close to call on election day, will be published on Wednesday or Thursday. The vote count ended today and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is allegely planning to celebrate a victory in La Plata on Tuesday (yes, before the official numbers are out.)

  • The president of Procrear and Subsecretary for National Urban Development and Social Housing, Iván Kerr, said on Sunday that the government will "probably" reopen the government programme's open applications for housing loans in September. No details were given on how many would be granted: stay tuned!

  • As of September, Buenos Aires province is set to have tariff increases regarding electricity, social security and cell phones operators. Looks like you'll have to get out your monster feet slippers after all.

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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