April was a month of change in Argentina. First came the rains: last month was the wettest in a century for several parts of the country, and tens of thousands of people were affected by widespread flooding in the north-eastern Litoral region. When the sun finally reappeared, it was accompanied by an abrupt shift in wind direction, bringing in the cold Antarctic air for the first time in 2016.
Former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner came riding in on that southerly breeze, returning to from Patagonia to Buenos Aires to be questioned by a judge and using the visit to stir up local politics with a lengthy speech to thousands of supporters. Her comeback came just as President Mauricio Macri was securing his biggest political victory to date, successfully paying back the so-called vulture funds to bring Argentina out of default and back to international debt markets after 15 years on the sidelines.
Macri didn’t have much time to bask in that triumph as he was busy trying to distance himself from the Panama Papers scandal and deal with a shift in public mood as households feel the impact of recent tariff hikes and widespread layoffs.
Though Congress backed the government’s debt plan in March, Macri is now being challenged by the majority opposition as it pushes through a bill to temporarily prohibit job dismissals. And on 29th April, in the run up to Labour Day, the country’s powerful umbrella unions called a massive march that carried a clear warning message for the government.
The arrival of Uber, meanwhile, marked a potential sea change for transport in Buenos Aires, though the company currently finds itself up against taxi driver unions, the city government, and local courts. The municipal authorities are also dealing with the aftermath of five drug overdose deaths in an electronic music festival, a tragedy that has posed serious questions over security controls and resurrected the debate over drug policy.