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Argentine Mondays: May 29th, 2017

Welcome to the first edition of 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.

25 de mayo: international parades and a "serious historical error"

Saturday saw large parts of Avenida del Libertador cut off for an international parade across the city for 25 de mayo, with marching bands from over ten countries and airplanes flying over the Campo Argentino del Polo. For those of you wondering why you had the day off last Thursday, 25 de mayo is a national holiday that commemorates the revolution that kicked out the Spanish viceroy and established the first local government in 1810.

However, this is not to be confused with Independence Day, which came about on July 9th 1816 — the May revolution was more like a first step. Apparently someone on the organisational committee forgot that, because one of the banners at the main event read "1816-2017." According to the Defence Minister, Julio Martínez, the mistake had been acknowledged early and hastily covered with a "0," but the makeshift number fell off towards the end of the event and revealed what he described as a "serious historical error."

Mateo Rush passed away

In a heartfelt statement, the mother of 15-year-old Mateo Rush informed social media that he had died in the United States, where he had gone to get an operation for an aggressive lymphoma. Rush's need to go abroad for the expensive operation was the centre of a social media campaign which raised the necessary US$ 800,000: he suffered from a post transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, which cannot be treated here in Argentina.

María, Mateo's mother, wrote the news on the Facebook page "Todos por Mateo Rush" (All For Mateo), saying that "[he lived] 15 years of fighting against it with all his might, giving it all he had and always enjoying his life to the full" and that she "can't imagine a life without him." She concluded by captioning the photo, "taken [that day] when Mateo was hugging Alejandro and me!! [He was] always taking care of us!!" Her post was widely shared and the loss of Mateo grieved around the country. May he rest in peace.

Maternal death ratio drops in Buenos Aires province

Yesterday was the International Day of Action for Women's Health (May 28th), making it an appropriate moment for the Buenos Aires province Health Minister, Zulma Ortiz, to officially announce the new numbers of maternal mortality. The up-to-date statistics bring good news: the number of deaths related to pregnancy, birth and the postpartum periods decreased from 112 in 2015 to 92 in 2016 (according to Perfil).

"In 2016, we managed to reverse a tendency that had been rising since 2012 [...] after implementing a specific plan against this issue, the maternal death ratio went from 3.9 to 3.4 per 10,000 live births," said Ortiz.

Funding, however, is still an issue despite new policies and Ortiz recognised that "[The province] is still far from the objectives put forward by the World Health Organisation."

A side of misogyny

A restaurant in the city of Salta faced severe criticism after photos of its menu were published on social media revealing its less-than-charming foible of naming meat cuts after different actresses and models under the title "Argentine Meat." The restaurant, Espacio Portezuelo, was condemned by the provincial Secretariat of Human Rights and several feminist organisations for the "terms used, [which] constitute an affront to women's basic human rights," with firm requests to change the menu.

"Symbolic violence [...] is the mother of all violence because it underlies all others and is so internalised that its victims assume that it is normal," read a press release signed by feminist organisations such as the Cross-Sectional Women's Organisation and the Salta University Women's Commission. Espacio Portezuelo has yet to respond.

Feeling optimistic?

Time for a look at Clarín's weekly optimism indices, published every Sunday with data from the consulting firm Management and Fit. The Political and Economic Optimism Indices measure the expectations of a population sample regarding the country's political and economic prospects and their confidence for the future. The indices, drawn from telephone surveys, are often used as a barometre for how President Mauricio Macri's administration is being perceived. Right now, the economic index has fallen by one point to 36.6 while the political index stands at 34.2 (a 0.4 point increase).

From controversial call to prank call

A man called 911 on Saturday evening to report a theft. Not just any theft: the loss of two points by Boca Juniors in the Argentine First Division Tournament.

Let's get some context. Boca Juniors played against Huracán Football club and was winning 1-0 until just 40 seconds before the end of a match, when a penalty was given to Huracán and Alejandro Romero Gamarra scored for a final result of 1-1. Along with many Boca fans, the prank called was not pleased with the penalty (debatable for some) nor the final outcome.

When asked the usual protocol questions during the 911 call, the man allegedly gave the operator the address for the Huracán stadium, where the match was played, and claimed that "50,000 people" were affected by the "robbery." The prank caller admitted to having made the call "because [he] was very angry" and could now face charges.

Grand Reopening

After a year and a half of renovations, the historic San Martín theatre has finally reopened. The event was marked with what the Buenos Aires City Government described as a "party," which was supposed to take place on the 25th but was postponed due to the rain. In an open-air festival with a stage that crossed the entirety of Corrientes avenue, members of the Contemporary Ballet, the Puppeteer Group and the Contemporary Dance Group performed alongside a plethora of actors, musicians, acrobats and technicians for a five-act show illustrating the history of the San Martín theatre. So keep your eyes peeled for upcoming shows, one of Buenos Aires' most famous theatres is back!

Millie Bobby Brown sings at Comic Con

The beloved actress from Stranger Things surprised everyone at the Argentine Comic Con by singing snippets of Beyoncé's "Ave María" and Katy Perry's "Firework" on Friday. The impromptu performance made waves on social media.


Key: what to look out for today

  • Today is the beginning of an oral trial regarding a brutal femicide which happened in the gated neighbourhood of Martindale in August 2015. Fernando Farré is charged with "doubly aggravated homicide due to his connection to the victim and gendered violence" after murdering his wife during divorce proceedings: he allegedly locked her in a closet and slit her throat, as well as inflicting 74 wounds, using two kitchen knives. The defence is expected to use his "violent state of emotion" as a strategy to avoid incarceration.

  • The governmental Anti Corruption Office (OA) is expected to suggest that the judicial system should investigate the television production company PPT. The reason? PPT allegedly committed fraud by charging the National Social Security Administration (ANSES) AR$88 million for advertisements shown on the former public television show "6,7,8." The OA will apparently demand that PPT give that money back. Since both PPT and 6,7,8 are either linked or explicitly sympathetic to the previous administration, this could get ugly. Or, at least, interesting.


That wasn't so bad, was it? 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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