The lull of January is one of the hardest obstacles to face when it comes to getting work, or anything that requires some effort, done. If you’re on holiday, what’s going on in Argentina is probably not on your mind. If you’re in Buenos Aires, the intense heat and heavy storms (topped with enviously perusing your Instagram feed) means that doing anything that requires more work than choosing what series to watch is next to impossible.
Let’s try to shake that January holiday laziness off with a little update of what happened over the weekend. Then you can go back to procrastinating or daydreaming of colder climes.
- The fires that have been devastating several provinces for the past few weeks began afresh in certain parts of La Pampa province over the weekend, affecting traffic as well as continuing to wreak havoc in terms of agriculture and safety. Environment Minister Sergio Bergman has come under a lot of fire for what has been perceived as a lack of decisive action when faced with a natural hazard that has affected the provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Neuquén and Río Negro.
- Controversy continued to flare up over the weekend regarding the Government’s proposal to lower the age at which people can be tried as adults from 16 to 14 years old. The Government will allegedly present a bill to Congress in October of this year in order to avoid it being debated during the elections or used for political campaigns. “Politicians taking sides and saying ‘these are my plans’ isn’t a bad thing [per se]. What we want to avoid is the debate over passing the bill being placed in an electoral context,” said Martín Casares, subsecretary of Criminal Policy in the Ministry of Justice. Read more: Government Considering Lowering The Age People Can Be Tried As Adults To 14
- The aforementioned debate has heated up lately due to the murder of 14-year-old Brian Aguianaco in the neighborhood of Flores, allegedly at the hands of a 15-year-old, Joel González. Brian’s parents made their first public appearance on Sunday, asking the judge in charge of González’s custody not to set him free and called for a march demanding justice on Tuesday at 08:00 PM. “We want to tell the judge not to free the underaged [suspect] despite the pressure he’s under, he can’t set him free, because this is the way we live today and always [in fear],” said Brian’s mother, Eliana.
- On Saturday, the Comprehensive Medical Attention Program (PAMI), a public health insurance agency for the elderly, homeless and veterans, announced that it would not be giving free medication to pensioners with social security, more than one real estate properties or multiple cars purchased within the last ten years. The move caused an uproar, with opposition throughout the weekend, calling it “a disgrace,” among other things. The head of the PAMI, Carlos Regazzoni, said that “We cannot give social benefits to someone who spends their summers in Punta del Este […] Anyone who has a boat and/or a plane and gets free medication for high blood pressure is an attempt to defraud PAMI.”
- When it comes to the “recovered grandchildren” of the dictatorship (children of victims who were kidnapped and forcefully adopted by the military or their friends), it is often assumed that it’s easy sailing from the moment they find out their true identity. That isn’t the case of Hilario Bacca, or Grandson 95: last Friday, a court ruled in his favor after he asked to keep using the surname of his adoptive parents, who are currently in jail. This was vehemently rejected by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who said on Saturday that it was “an affront to the memory of his real parents” who died during the dictatorship. Bacca, for his part, countered that he had never been interested in knowing about his origins, claiming that the DNA test had been a “violation of privacy” and that “if they want to throw stones […] that makes it personal.”
- Let’s have some numbers. According to private consulting firm Ecolatina, the inflation rate for 2016 was 40.1 percent in the City of Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires province “due to price increases in services and repressed inflation from previous years.” For the National Statistics Bureau (INDEC), the inflation rate in December alone was 1.5 percent. Meanwhile, the Argentine Catholic University (UCA) has foreshadowed that its next study on poverty will show an increase in the indigence rate — the amount of people who can’t afford purchasing food products considered vital to subsist.
- One of the men who murdered José Luis Cabezas, a photographer for Noticias magazine who was found dead in the seaside town of Pinamar in 1997, has been freed on parole. The man in question is Gustavo Prellezo, a former lawyer: the only person arrested for Cabeza’s murder that remains in jail is behind bars for a different reason. There will be a march on January 25 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the murder and demand justice. Read more: These Are Argentina’s Iconic Victims Organizing Tuesday’s Anti-Crime Protest
- President Mauricio Macri was apparently the most influential Argentine in 2016, according to the consulting firm Poliarquía following a survey of 250 people. Which, of course, is great, considering that he was the new president. Good job, Mac. He was followed by Pope Francis, Elisa “Lilita” Carrió and María Eugenia Vidal.
- Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley was released from hospital on Saturday after undergoing surgery during the week to remove a pulmonary nodule. According to the British Hospital staff, she recovered well and there was no need to extend her leave.
- Clarín’s Political and Economic optimism indices were published yesterday, with statistics compiled by the Management and Fit consultancy firm, showing slight improvements in both the economic optimism index (0.2 points) and the political index (0.7) after a decreasing tendency at the end of 2016.
Go forth and show yourselves to be well informed, my loyal Monday readers!