Tag Archive | "Argentina"

Argentina Goes to The Hague over Vulture Funds

The International Court of Justice in the Hague is the world's highest court (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The International Court of Justice in the Hague is the world’s highest court (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Argentina has presented documentations to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, petitioning that a case be opened against the United States for its handling of the vulture funds case.

Argentina’s government blames US Judge Thomas Griesa, who froze a payment of US$539m that Argentina made to a group of bondholders who had restructured their debt, for driving the country into a technical default. The government has said that this decision by Griesa was not impartial, and benefitted the holdouts, or so-called vulture funds.

“The Republic of Argentina argues that the United States of America has violated the sovereignty and immunity of Argentina as a result of judicial decisions adopted by US courts which are related to the restructuring of the country’s public debt,” said a ICJ communiqué.

However, the court has said that it will not be able to take any action unless the US accepts the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the case, something that is unlikely.

Today’s announcement follow a series of smaller developments in recent days, since last week’s technical default.

On Monday, National Securities Commission president, Alejandro Vanoli, said that the organisation would present a formal request for information from the US Securities Exchange Commission.

And yesterday, Judge Griesa ratified an earlier decision to freeze the US$539m payment in Bank of New York Mellon, which was deposited by the Argentine government at the end of June in an attempt to pay the bondholders who had restructured their debts.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (7)

Bolivia to Investigate Pilcomayo River Pollution

Pilcomayo River (image: Wikipedia)

The Pilcomayo River (highlighted) is part of the Río de la Plata basin (image: Wikipedia)

The Bolivian Public Prosecutor’s Office has announced that a prosecutor specialised in environmental issues will be appointed to investigate and bring to court those responsible for the collapse of a tailing dam that polluted the Pilcomayo River last week.

The incident occurred on 10th July in the district of Potosí, when the tailing dam of a mine owned by mining company Santiago Apóstol burst, dumping residues from a lead, silver, and zinc mine into the river. A report confirmed high levels of pollution from toxic substances such as sodium, iron, chromium, and magnesium.

Provincial prosecutor José Luis Ríos said that “the company did not comply with environmental laws. The dam didn’t even have a protective geomembrane, which ended up producing the collapse of the dam that contained toxic residues.” As a first measure, Ríos ordered that all the mine’s activities be suspended.

The Environmennt and Mother Earth Secretary of the district of Chuquisaca, Eddy Carvajal, informed that “mining company Santiago Apóstol does not hold an environmental licence, and neither do other mining companies and cooperatives,” whilst the inter-institutional commission in defence of the Pilcomayo River stated that as many as 80% of mining companies and cooperatives from the municipality of Tacobamba, Potosí, do not hold environmental licences.

The Pilcomayo River, which goes through the districts of Potosí, Chuquisaca, and Tarija in Bolivia, is also shared with neighbouring Paraguay and Argentina. The Paraguayan Foreign Affairs Ministry, currently presiding the Tri-national Pilcomayo River Commission, has requested its embassy in La Paz to provide a report on the river’s situation. Didier Olmedo, Foreign Trade Secretary at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, also said they were considering sending experts from the Commission to the affected site.

A Bolivian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Juan Carlos Alurralde will provide information on the incident to the Argentine and Paraguayan governments in a meeting in Buenos Aires next week.

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Indy Eye: Thousands Celebrate Despite Argentina’s World Cup Final Loss

Tens of thousands took to the streets last night to celebrate Argentina making it to the World Cup final for the first time in 24 years. Despite losing 1-0 to Germany in extra time, festivities went on into the early hours in public plazas around the country. However, in Buenos Aires, despite the mostly peaceful gatherings, at the Obelisco the celebrations ended violently after groups clashed with police. Around 120 people have been detained.

This morning, hundreds of people turned out to greet the squad upon their return to Argentina, and various kilometres of cars packed the streets around Ezeiza international airport and the Argentine Football Association terrain, where the players went after landing. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner travelled to the AFA site to meet with the players in an official ceremony.

Foto: Alejandro Amdan/enviado especial/Télam/lz

Argentina’s hopes lay on the shoulders of these 11 men (Photo: Alejandro Amdan/enviado especial/Télam/lz)


Vecinos de la Villa 31 palpitaron la final de la Copa Mundial 2014 en la calle, donde se instaló una pantalla gigante. Foto: José Romero/Télam/dsl

Thousands turned out to watch the final on giant screens in public plazas around the country, such as this one in Villa 31 (Photo: José Romero/Télam/dsl)


Foto: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf

Many were inconsolable at Argentina’s extra time defeat to Germany (Photo: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf)


Foto: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf

But Argentina’s star striker Lionel Messi won the tournament’s ‘Golden Ball’ (Photo: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf)


Foto: Pepe Delloro/Telam/cf

Although that wasn’t enough for some, like this girl in Neuquén (Photo: Pepe Delloro/Telam/cf)


 Foto: Osvaldo Fanton/Télam/dsl

Thousands headed to Buenos Aires Obelisco despite the loss, to celebrate Argentina making it to the final for the first time in 24 years (Photo: Osvaldo Fanton/Télam/dsl)


Foto: Alejandro Santa Cruz/Télam/dsl

Celebrations continued into the early hours, in a carnival-like atmosphere (Photo: Alejandro Santa Cruz/Télam/dsl)


Foto:Víctor Carreira/Télam/dsl

And whilst the real cup will be heading to Germany, some took the chance to pose with this giant model (Photo: Víctor Carreira/Télam/dsl)


Foto: José Romero/Télam/ddc

This morning fans flocked to Ezeiza to greet the national squad upon their return (Photo: José Romero/Télam/ddc)


Foto: Leonardo Zavattaro/Télam/lz

Star players Messi, Lavezzi, Demichelis, and Mascherano touch down in Argentina (Photo: Leonardo Zavattaro/Télam/lz)


Thousans lined the steets to wait for the team's bus to pass (Photo: José Romero/Télam/ddc)

A multitude lined the steets to wait for the team’s bus to pass (Photo: José Romero/Télam/ddc)


Foto: Presidencia/Télam/dsl

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with the national team (Photo: Presidencia/Télam/dsl)


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Brazil: Environmentalists link Deforestation to Flooding

Map shows how the Bosque Atlantico has shrunk over the past decades (image courtesy of Fundación Vida Silvestre)

Map shows how the Bosque Atlantico has shrunk over the past decades (image courtesy of Fundación Vida Silvestre)

Environmental NGOs have publicly denounced the high levels of deforestation in Paraguay, Brazil, and north-east Argentina as being the principal cause of the devastating flooding in the region.

Nine people have died and thousands have been evacuated as a result of the floods, and a state of emergency has been declared in the south of Brazil.

Greenpeace and Fundación Vida Silvestre have pinpointed the loss of the native Bosque Atlántico and shift towards industrialised agriculture as being behind the high levels of water in the Paraná and Iguazú rivers.

Hernán Giardini, coordinator of Greenpeace Argentina’s Forests campaign, said: “Woods and rainforests, as well as being packed with biodiversity, play a fundamental role in climate regulation, the maintenance of sources and flows of water, and the conservation of the ground. They are our natural sponge and protective umbrella. When we lose the forests we become more vulnerable in the face of rains and we run serious risks of flooding.”

Whilst heavy rains are common in the region, four months’ worth of rainfall has fallen over the past few days, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that extreme weather phenomenons, such as increased rainfall, drought, and hurricanes, can be attributed to climate change, and the advance of the agricultural frontier, which has stripped the previously forested region bare, has increased the effects of these heavier rains.

On the Argentine side of the border, just 7% of the original 2m hectares of forest remain, whilst in Paraguay and Brazil the forest has been practically destroyed. The forest, located mostly in the province of Misiones, with a small part in the north of Corrientes, is one of the most biodiverse regions in Argentina, with over 550 species of birds, 120 mammals, 80 reptiles, 55 amphibians, and 200 fish. More than 200 tree species are also registered. 


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Argentina Invited to Join July BRICS Summit

Foreign Affairs Minister Héctor Timerman (photo courtesy of Casa Rosada)

The announcement came after ForeignMinister Héctor Timerman met with his Russian counterpart (photo courtesy of Casa Rosada)

Argentina has been invited to join the sixth Brics Summit, due to take place in July in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The country will join the bloc of major emerging economies, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The news was released by Russia after a meeting between the country’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Argentine counterpart Héctor Timerman, which saw the ministers sign a joint declaration on the non-proliferation of arms in outer space.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is currently the only non-bloc head of state who will attend the summit, and some analysts believe this is the latest indication that there is interest in Argentina joining the group, who between them are responsible for a quarter of the world’s economy.

China also recently announced a state visit to Buenos Aires in July.

The Casa Rosada responded to the news as being “a new sign that the country is not isolated from the world, but ever more and ever better integrated”.



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Government Reaches Debt Agreement with Paris Club

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof  (photo: Florencia Downes/Telam/dsl)

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof led the negotiations for Argentina (photo: Florencia Downes/Telam/dsl)

After months of negotiation, the government and the Paris Club yesterday reached an agreement over the repayment of Argentina’s US$9.7bn debt owed to the group. The deal will see the amount repaid in full in installments over the next five years.

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof met with the Paris Club leader Ramón Fernández in France to finalise the debt agreement. After the meeting, Kicillof hailed the historic deal, which is seen as a victory for Argentina, as closing a “sad chapter” in the country’s history.

The first payment, of US$650m, will be made in July, with the second payment of US$500m due in May 2015. The remaining debt installments will be managed by the government voted in at next year’s elections.

Interest has been set at 3%, and if Argentina fails to fully repay the debt over the five-year period, it the option of extending repayments for a further two years, with additional interest. The deal also allows for higher interest rates if the creditor nations invest in Argentina.

“Realisation of an initial payment under a formal commitment of Argentina to fully clear its arrears is a necessary and important step for the normalisation of financial relationships between Paris Club creditors and Argentina,” the Paris Club said.

“During the meeting, the delegation of the Argentine Republic provided a description of the economic and financial situation of its country and presented the measures implemented by the Argentine government aimed at enhancing inclusive growth and strengthening resilience to external shocks.”

The agreement allows for credit agencies from Paris Club member countries to resume doing business with Argentina, which is seeking foreign investment to develop its oil and gas industry. Referring to the deal, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said on Twitter: “The financing we will obtain will not be, as in previous decades, for the financial casino. It will be for infrastructure, development, technology, and all Argentines.”

News of the deal has been welcomed in Argentine markets, with the Merval rising 2.2% after opening today.

Germany is Argentina’s biggest Paris Club creditor with about 30% of the outstanding debt, followed by Japan with about 25%. Other debt holders include the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and the US.



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Five Dead After Private Plane Crashes in Río de la Plata

Authorities have confirmed five dead after a light aircraft crashed in the Río de la Plata this afternoon. Another four people remain in hospital, according to reports.

The private plane, travelling from San Fernando in Argentina with nine on board, crashed less than 10km southwest of its destination Carmelo, on the Uruguayan coast. The pilot had allegedly reported a technical problem before communication was lost.

Map of the crash site (via Infobae.com)

Map of the crash site (via Infobae.com)

Emergency services were alerted by passengers calling from on board as the plane fell soon after 2pm and rescue helicopters and boats were immediately dispatched from both countries.

Early reports suggested one fatality, though the increased figure of five was later confirmed by spokesperson for the Uruguayan navy Gastón Juansolo. Two of the survivors were taken to Buenos Aires, and the other two to Colonia, where they continue to receive treatment for injuries.

Argentine Security Secretary Sergio Berni said that the causes of the crash were still unknown, though noted that “experience tells us its was an engine failure,” according to Pagina 12. Berni added that there was extensive fog in the region of the crash.

The plane is owned by Federico Bonomi, of the clothes label Kosiuko, though he was not on board today.









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Argentina Names Preliminary World Cup Squad

Argentina's manager, Alejandro Sabella (photo: Juan Roleri/Télam)

Argentina’s manager, Alejandro Sabella (photo: Juan Roleri/Télam)

The preliminary Argentine squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was confirmed this afternoon by manager Alejandro Sabella.

The 30-man list, which will be reduced to 23 before the squad departs for Brazil, includes a call up for Martín Demichelis, who has not featured in the squad since November 2011. Other surprises include River Plate defender Gabriel Mercado and Catania’s Fabián Rinaudo. However, Carlos Tevez, who has over 60 caps and helped his club Juventus win the Italian first division, was left out. Star player Lionel Messi is the squad captain.

The World Cup kicks off on 12th June, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with Argentina’s first game three days later against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Rio de Janeiro.

The full squad

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andújar, Agustín Orion.

Defenders: Ezequiel Garay, Federico Fernández, Pablo Zabaleta, Marcos Rojo, José María Basanta, Hugo Campagnaro, Nicolás Otamendi, Martín Demichelis, Gabriel Mercado, Lisandro López.

Midfielders: Fernando Gago, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega, Angel Di María, Maximiliano Rodríguez, Ricardo Alvarez, Augusto Fernández, Enzo Pérez, José Sosa y Fabián Rinaudo.

Strikers: Sergio Agüero, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Rodrigo Palacio, Franco Di Santo.



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Mexico: Amnesty Warns of ‘Critical’ Human Rights Situation

Amnesty International Secretary General, Salil Shetty, at launch of Stop Torture Campaign (photo courtesy of Amnesty International)

Amnesty International Secretary General, Salil Shetty, at launch of Stop Torture Campaign (photo courtesy of Amnesty International)

Amnesty International today published a letter sent to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto expressing concern over the ‘critical situation’ for human rights in the country.

“It is vital that measures are taken to tackle current patterns of disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests, as well as the regular attacks against those supporting human rights, journalists, migrants, and women,” said the letter, which was signed by Amnesty International’s secretary general, Salil Shetty. It also urged an end to impunity by ensuring that any members of the government of armed forces involves in these crime be swiftly handed over to the judiciary.

The organisation said it had also handed the president 170,000 signatures collected over the last year from people demanding concrete action to deal with these problems.

The letter was sent to coincide with Amnesty International’s global report on the use of torture, in which Mexico was one of five countries singled out as where torture is “rife”.

According to the report: “The use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by military and police forces remains widespread throughout Mexico, with impunity rife for the perpetrators.”

According to Amnesty’s global survey, at least 44% of respondents from 21 countries said they feared torture if taken into custody. In Mexico, that rate stood at 64%.

Other Latin American countries included in the survey were Brazil, where 80% of respondents said they would not feel safe from torture if arrested, Peru (54%), Argentina (49%), and Chile which reported the lowest regional figure of 30%.

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President Meets Chilean Counterpart

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and Argentine president Cristina Fernández (photo: María Candelaria Lagos/Télam/lz)

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and Argentine president Cristina Fernández (photo: María Candelaria Lagos/Télam/lz)

President Cristina Fernández de Kichner met Chilean president Michellet Bachelet today at the government house, in the latter’s first official overseas trip. After the meeting, the presidents gave a press conference where they referred to the need to strengthen the relationship between the countries, amongst other topics.

President Bachelet highlighted that “it is neither an accident or a coincidence” that she chose Argentina as the first overseas destination of her second term. “It is time to strongly resume the [cooperation] agenda,” she said, while president Fernández pointed out that Bachelet’s predecessor, Sebastián Piñera, “had other urgencies, other initiatives, and he had all the right to do so.” Both mentioned the need to re-launch the Treaty of Maipú, a cooperation treaty which was signed during the presidents’ first terms.

During the meeting, the presidents talked about an initiative to double the number of border crossings between Chile and Argentina, something they said would bring economic benefits to both countries. Referring to drug trafficking, while both heads of state acknowledged the need to include the issue in the bilateral agenda, they also highlighted that it is something that must be tackled at the regional level, with “common protocols” throughout all the Unasur countries.

Asked about the situation of the Pascua Lama bi-national mining project, currently halted, the presidents preferred not to answer, saying that the issue was in the hands of the judiciary.

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In the week that Estela de Carlotto, president of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, found her grandson, ending a 36-year search, we revisit Vicky Gashe's 2010 article on the human rights organisation.

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