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Scioli Takes Comfortable Lead in Presidential Primaries

Frente para la Victoria’s (FPV) Daniel Scioli won 38.4% of the vote in yesterday’s primary elections, over 12 points ahead of his closest rival, Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri, who gained 24.3%. Former cabinet chief Sergio Massa trailed the pair, picking up 14.2% of the vote.

Candidates Daniel Scioli (left), Mauricio Macri (middle), and Sergio Massa (right)

(L-R) Frontrunners Daniel Scioli, Mauricio Macri, and Sergio Massa

Three other candidates will also be on the ballot on 25th October, having won more than the 1.5% threshold: Margarita Stoblizer from the centre-left Frente Progresistas (3.5%), Compromiso Federal’s Adolfo Rodríguez Saa (2.1%), and Nicolás del Caño from Frente de Izquierda y Trabajadores (FIT) who picked up 1.7%, narrowly beating his FIT rival candidate Jorge Altamira (1.6%).

Five smaller parties did not make the cut, gathering less than 0.5% of the vote each.

Celebrations were strong in all of the camps, for differing reasons. Scioli highlighted his 12-point lead over Macri, whilst the Buenos Aires mayor and Massa were quick to celebrate all the votes picked up by their respective coalitions.

When looking at votes along party lines, the scenario changes, with FPV still leading the field, but by much smaller margins, making the chances of a run-off on 22nd November more likely. (To win outright, a candidate must win more than 45% of the vote, or more than 40% with a ten-point margin of victory over their closest rival.)

Governor of Buenos Aires province Scioli was the only candidate on the governing FPV’s ticket, after June’s announcement of his choice of vice-president – Kirchnerist insider Carlos Zannini – united the party behind a single candidate.

Macri and Massa, on the other hand, both beat out rivals to be on the presidential ticket.

Macri, running on the ticket for coalition Cambiemos, which includes his own party Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), closes the gap on Scioli significantly when adding the votes of UCR senator Ernesto Sanz (3.5%), and Coalición Civica’s Elisa Carrió (2.3%). The coalition’s collective total is 30.1%, just eight points behind Scioli. Massa’s Una Nueva Alternative (UNA) alliance also won 20.6% overall, if second-placed Córdoba governor José Manuel de la Sota’s 6.4% is included.

Whilst all eyes were on the presidential race, six provinces also took to the polls to elect new governors yesterday.

Buenos Aires Province

The most watched race was Buenos Aires Province, where a third of the country’s population resides, and current governor Daniel Scioli’s man – Julián Dominguez – faced off against cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández (a close ally of the president). Whilst the latter only narrowly won the FPV ticket, together the two government candidates picked up 40.3% of the vote, ahead of Cambiemos’ María Eugenia Vidal’s 29.4%, and UNA’s Felipe Sola – who previously governed the province from 2002-07 – and who picked up 19.6%.


In Catamarca the incumbent FpV governor, Lucía Corpacci, comfortably led with 52% of the vote, making it seem likely that she will be reelected in October. Her closest rival, former governor Eduardo Brizuela del Moral, of Frente Cívico y Social, picked up 39%.


In the southern province, incumbent Martín Buzzi won a landslide victory over his challenger to take the FpV candidacy and stand for re-election in October. The FpV also led overall, between them taking 40.4% of the vote, narrowly beating non-Kirchnerist Peronist, and former governor, Mario Das Neves of Alianza Frente Union Chubut Somos Todos (38.8%). Alianza Cambiemos Chubut trailed into third place with 15.6% of the vote, making it likely that the two Peronist candidates will face one another in a run-off in November.

Entre Ríos

With incumbent governor Sergio Urribarri not standing for re-election, fellow FPV candidate Gustavo Bordet came first in the primary with 44.3% of the vote, beating Cambiemos’ Alfredo de Angeli (35.8%).

San Juan

Current vice-governor Sergio Uñac had a good primary, taking over 85% of the votes cast for the FPV, ensuring he is on the ticket in October. It is likely that the FPV will be re-elected, after taking over 61% of the vote in the province. If he wins, Uñac will return to the position he held as caretaker in 2013 when incumbent José Luis Gioja was on medical leave for four months following a helicopter accident.

San Luis

Brother of presidential hopeful Adolfo, Alberto Rodríguez Saa took a seemingly unassailable in the primaries for Alianza Compromiso Federal, scooping 54% of the votes, close to 30 points ahead of Cambiemos, who picked up 26.4%, and FPV, with 16.9%. If he wins in October, which seems likely, Rodríguez Saa will continue the brothers’ dynastic rule of San Luis, which has seen them govern the province for 26 of the 32 years since the return to democracy in 1983.

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Argentina News Roundup: 25th April 2014

Metropolitan Police supress protest at Borda Hospital (photo courtesy of FM La Tribu)

Metropolitan Police supress protest at Borda Hospital (photo courtesy of FM La Tribu)

Macri’s Acquittal on Borda Repression Case Overturned: An Appeals Court overturned yesterday a ruling that acquitted Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri and other high government officials of the repression at the Borda mental hospital last year. The first instance ruling acquitted Macri, his deputy María Eugenia Vidal, Chief of Cabinet Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Security Minister Guillermo Montenegro, Urban Development Minister Daniel Chaín, and Health Minister Graciela Reybaud due to lack of evidence. However, it was overturned on appeal, on the grounds that “the government must exercise its hierarchical power directly if it knows that its subordinates are not fulfilling their specific obligations or duties,” and their responsibility on the incidents will now continue to be investigated.

On 26th April 2013, 200 members of the Metropolitan Police entered the Borda Hospital at 7am and violently supressed patients, doctors, legislators, journalists, and other people who gathered to protest the demolition of Protected Workshop 19 by the city government.

New Court Order To Discover Whereabouts of Luciano Arruga: The Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) and the family of Luciano Arruga presented yesterday a habeas corpus demanding the state immediately take “all the necessary actions” to determine the whereabouts of the missing teenager. Arruga has not been seen since January 2009, after allegedly being detained in a police station in Lomas del Mirador, in the province of Buenos Aires. In 2013, after years of campaigning by the Arruga family and human rights groups, the case was changed from ‘missing person’ to a ‘forced disappearance’ and taken up by a Federal Court. CELS lawyer Maximiliano Medina explained that yesterday’s court order runs parallel to the main criminal investigation, and is focused on finding Luciano. “The habeus corpus puts the victim at the centre, finding the body,” said Medina. “This order means that all bodies of the state must work together and provide Luciano’s family with answers. If they do not, there is the chance it could face international sanctions.”

Félix Díaz, leader of the Qom community, was officially recognised for his commitment to the environment (photo courtesy of FARN)

Félix Díaz, leader of the Qom community, was officially recognised for his commitment to the environment (photo courtesy of FARN)

Annual Environment Report Published: The Foundation for Environment and Natural Resources (FARN) presented its annual report on the state of the environment in Argentina yesterday. Presenting the report, Andrés Nápoli, director of FARN, said: “Despite complaints, protests, and judicial actions, the subject of the environment remains distant from the public agenda.” He went on to say that citizen participation remains the key to political change in these key areas. During the presentation, which took place in La Trastienda and was attended by more than 300 leaders from the environmental sector, Félix Díaz, leader of the indigenous Qom community in Formosa, was awarded for his work on the frontline of the environmental struggle and for his work for indigenous rights. The 400-page report is a comprehensive analysis of the current situation in Argentina in areas as diverse as agrochemical use, mining, soy production, the Ley de Basura Cero (Zero Rubbish Law) and Ley de Bosques (Forests Law), the Riachuelo, glaciers, and energy policies. It also addresses public opinion on the environment and what can be done to increase awareness of the country’s issues, and also how to get them on the public and legislative agenda.

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Argentina News Roundup: 7th March 2014

New subte station San José de Flores opened today on the A line (photo: Beatrice Murch)

San José de Flores subte station (photo: Beatrice Murch)

Subte Fares to Increase: Subte fares in the city of Buenos Aires will increase as of next Friday 14th March, from the current $3.50 to $4.50 for rides purchased with electronic cards, such as Sube and Monedero. Tickets bought in cash will cost $5 each, and the premetro will go up from $1 to $1.50. Those travelling more than 20 times per month will see the price of the 21st to the 30th ticket reduced to $3.60; the 31st to 40th will be reduced to $3.15, and all the trips from the 41st onwards will cost $2.70. The measure was published in the City’s Official Gazette this morning, and justified by a yearly rise in costs of 16%. The City’s General Auditor, Eduardo Epszteyn, criticised the rise, indicating that a report produced by his office at the legislature’s request found the subte‘s operational costs to be significantly lower than those mentioned by the government. “I can’t understand how [Mayor Mauricio] Macri’s government could reach that value. Their costs are grossly inflated,” he said.

Macri to Avoid Trial Over Wiretapping: A judge ruled that there is not enough evidence to bring Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri to trial over the 2009 wiretapping scandal. Former Education Minister Mariano Narodowski, former Metropolitan Police chief Jorge ‘Fino’ Palacios, and alleged spy Ciro James will undergo trial. Judge Sebastián Casanello considered that neither the prosecutor or the complainants “specify direct evidence supporting the allegation that Macri ordered that Néstor Leonardo and Sergio Burstein be spied on.” According to Casanello, the political responsibility that may be attributed to the Mayor is insufficient for criminal proceedings. Despite this latest development in the case, Macri is still prosecuted and the judge has ordered new evidence to be presented to him in order to decide whether to acquit him or to bring him to trial with the rest of the accused.

Buenos Aires Province Teachers to Strike Next Week: Teachers’ unions in the province of Buenos Aires confirmed they will go on strike on Monday and Tuesday next week. In a statement, the Teachers’ Unions Front (FGDB) said that they will “continue with the struggle until we receive a wage offer from the government that can be analysed by the teachers.” The FGDB has rejected the provincial government’s offer of a 25.5% wage increase, as they demand at least a 35% raise. Schools in the province did not start the term as expected this week due to the strikes.

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Teachers Protest Education Assessment Institute Proposal

UTE members protest in front of City Legislature

UTE members protest in front of City Legislature (photo: María Candelaria Lagos/Telam)

Teachers from the Education Workers’ Union (UTE) have erected a white tent in front of the Buenos Aires Legislature where they are protesting against a city government project to create a private education assessment institute to evaluate teachers and students. The measure will be discussed tomorrow in the legislature.

The teachers have asked opposition parties not to support the “privatist” measure from governing party PRO, whose support of the measure alone is not sufficient for the law to be passed.

“Macri’s party wants to create a private, external assessment institute using national and foreign funds” said Eduardo López, the president of UTE, in a press conference outside the legislature. López estimated that the teachers would remain there fore 24 hours in an attempt to bring down the proposal.

Frente para la Victoria (FPV) legislator Francisco Nenna, who helped to set up the tent along with other legislators, called for “all of the opposition to vote against this bill,” explaining that although the Minister for Education, Esteban Bullrich, had promised that the institute would bring in private universities and organisations to a give a trustworthy and independent evaluation of  the education system, in fact, the proposed system would create “a ranking system which ranked schools, students, teachers.” He highlighted that similar projects had “failed in Chile, Spain, and in every country which has implemented it.”

Nenna said: “We want a systematic assessment of the education system, which analyses the characteristics of our own, unique education system and which is carried out with the input of teachers, students, local leaders, and the educational staff”.

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Mid Terms: FpV Loses Ground but Maintains Legislative Majority

Sergio Massa, left, led his alliance to a victory over the ruling party, led by candidate Martín Insaurralde. Frente para la Victoria maintains a majority in congress. (Credit: Télam)

Sergio Massa, left, led his alliance to a victory over the ruling party, led by candidate Martín Insaurralde, right. (Ph: Télam)

After Sunday’s mid-term legislative elections, the balance of power in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies remained relatively unchanged, with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Frente para la Victoria (FpV) party retaining a quorum in both houses. However, support for the ruling alliance was down considerably, bolstered by a strong showing by Sergio Massa’s Frente Renovador alliance in Buenos Aires province.

At the national level, FpV obtained 32.50% of the vote for seats in the Chamber of Deputies, six points ahead of its finish in August’s primary elections. The ruling party’s chief opposition, the UCR and its main ally, the Partido Socialista, trailed FpV with 21.82% of the vote.

Frente Renovador, the alliance led by Sergio Massa, convincingly won in the province of Buenos Aires with 43.92% of the votes. Trailing Massa’s party in Argentina’s largest electoral district was FpV, with 32.18% of the vote.

In his first speech after his win, Massa spoke about the future and national ambitions for his political alliance, which many speculate include a presidential candidacy in 2015.

“We have to defend the millions of votes which have transformed Frente Renovador into the leading political force in the province of Buenos Aires, something that forces us to cross borders and begin to traverse Argentina.”

In addition to Massa, four other oppositional leaders defeated the ruling party in their respective provinces: Hermes Binner in Santa Fe, Juan Carlos Schiaretti in Córdoba, Julio Cobos in Mendoza, and Mario Das Neves in Chubut.

After a poor showing in the primaries, the FpV recovered the provinces of San Juan and La Rioja, with 56% and 49% of the votes, respectively.

In the capital, mayor Mauricio Macri’s Union PRO finished in first with 34.46%, just ahead of UNEN’s 32.23%. Each party will send five deputies to the upper house.

Nationally, the picture remained similar in the senate race. FpV finished in first with 32.13% ahead of the closest competition, PRO, at 14.23%.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Argentina, News Round Ups, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Metrobus Corridor to Destroy Recently Built Boulevard

Macri announcing Metrobus plans ( Photo: Enrique Cabrera/Télam/ef)

Macri announcing Metrobus plans ( Photo: Enrique Cabrera/Télam/ef)

Just one day after the announcement of four new Metrobus corridors in Buenos Aires, it has emerged that construction of one of the lines will entail the demolition of a recently-built boulevard.

Yesterday, Mauricio Macri, Mayor of Buenos Aires, said the lanes would run along Av. Cabildo, Av. San Martín, Paseo Colón and Autopista 25 de Mayo.

But in order to make the new bus lane on Av. Cabildo, extending 2.1km from Av. Congreso to the General Paz, the boulevard – which was recently completed and cost just under $5m – would be destroyed.

When questioned about the demolition, the capital’s sub-secretary of transport, Guillermo Dietrich, stated yesterday that “it is difficult to prevent these things”.

In dialogue with Infobae, Gabriela Cerruti, of opposition party Nuevo Encuentro, commented: “It seems to be that there has been an absolute lack in planning… It is a way of throwing away public resources, in plain view of all porteños.”

The legislator explained that the boulevard had gone through several stages of planning and construction since 2008, with the final stage last year, signed off by construction company Cumini SA. Despite the initial budget of $1.7m, the total cost of the work amounts to close to $5m, with $2.8m spent on maintenance and ancillary costs more than doubling the initial budget.

The administration of Macri was questioned for having “never discussed the project with the community”, especially as the complications of the works and the mounting costs have affected residents, who state that the funding could have been spent in other areas such as “housing, hospital improvements or sewerage”.

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Macri Annouces Construction of Four New Metrobus Corridors

Mauricio Macri (Photo courtesy of Mauricio Macri)

Mauricio Macri (Photo courtesy of Mauricio Macri)

The head of the Buenos Aires Government, Mauricio Macri, announced today the addition of four new Metrobus corridors to the City Transport system. The new routes will run along the Avenues Cabildo, San Martín, Paseo Colón, and the 25 de Mayo motorway

Making the announcement in the Usina del Arte in Boca, Macri said: “This is why we got into politics… You can make wonderful speeches but if they do not turn into concrete plans which solve resident’s problems, they are of no use at all.”

He went on to specify that the new lines would add 56km to the current transport system and would positively transform the lives of “more than a million people.”

Accompanied by the vice president of the City Government, Maía Eugenia Vidal, the Cabinet Chief, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, and the Subsecretary of Transport, Guillermo Dietrich, Macri expressed his desire to continue talks with the Provincial and National Government about extending the Metrobus corridors to the Greater Buenos Aires area.

“I have talked with the governor [Daniel Scioli, governor of the province of Buenos Aires] and we are also speaking with the National Government. With the all the experience we have accumulated in the design of the project, we are available to help (with the extension plans) in anyway possible.”

The city government says these four new corridors, added to the three existing corridors, will provide a means of transport to more than 1,2 million people daily using 73 different bus lines.

The Cabildo Metrobus run between the Av Congreso and General La Paz. The Metrobus San Martín will run from the Avenue Juan B. Justo towards General La Paz, and the Paseo Colón will run from Plaza de Mayo to Wenceslado Villafañe in La Boca. Finally, Metrobus 25 de Mayo, the plans for which are still in development, is expected to be a fast lane in the middle of the motorway and will run for 7,5km between Av 9 de Julio and the junction with Perito Moreno.

The building of the new Metrobus corridors is provided for in the city government’s budget for 2014, presented by Macri last week, which included an allocation of $3.8bn to the Sub-secretary for Transport to begin construction next year.

This sum will be closely scrutinised due to recent revelations that the construction of Metrobus Sur and Metrobus 9 de Julio cost the city $200m more than was originally budgeted for.

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City Government Accused of Serious Misconduct in “Pechito” Death

Alejandro "Pechito" Ferreiro (photo from Facebook)

Alejandro “Pechito” Ferreiro (photo from Facebook)

The death of the well-known homeless man Alejandro “Pechito” Ferreiro has mobilised over 200 local residents to sign a petition to bring the city government to court over negligence. Today the charges were confirmed by Buenos Aires city legislator María José Lubertino. The charges brought against the city government are for abandonment of person, injury, and culpable homicide of a destitute person.

Pechito, as he was known by neighbours and Palermo residents where he resided, died on 7th September in Hospital Rivadavia as a consequence of a pulmonary infection. He had been living in a corner between Av. Scalabrini Ortiz and Santa Fe for 12 years, where many of the local residents took care of him. He was well known as he had two dogs and used a neighbour’s electricity to watch television on his outside bed.

Two days prior to his death, a city patrol, under the auspices of a programme for individuals in vulnerable social conditions picked him up. The programme is an initiative brought forth by the Ministry of Social Development of the city government. For the two days that Pechito was ‘missing’, with neighbours trying to locate his whereabouts to no avail. The following Sunday he was found by an ambulance in the Bajo Flores area, dehydrated and with visible signs of aggression on his body, and was brought to the hospital where he died.

Pechito had been interviewed various times in the past where he raised awareness on the conditions in which homeless people lived in the city. He was also very vocal in his appreciation to the many neighbours and Palermo residents that showed their solidarity and care.

Lubertino is seeking justice from Mauricio Macri’s government, on behalf of the hundreds of residents who demanded answers over the circumstances leading up to his. She confirmed that, together with Pechito’s neighbours, they will formally put a request to the Legal Council of the City for Hospital Rivadavia to conduct an autopsy on his body.

In letters commemorating his life on the corner where he had lived for over a decade, one read: “Pechito, we will miss you but this will always be your spot.” In a statement to news agency Télam, neighbour Clauda D’Amore declared: “This situation seems very confusing to us and the city government is not giving us answers: they took Pechito and we want to see the security camera films and get autopsy results.”

A Facebook page has been set up to update residents on the case and find a home for Pechito’s two dogs.

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Controversy Over Metrobus Excessive Construction Costs

A Metrobus stop on 9 de Julio. (Source: Telam)

A Metrobús stop on 9 de Julio. (Source: José Casal/Telam)

A report published in newspaper La Nación revealed that the construction of Metrobus Sur and Metrobus 9 de Julio cost the city $200m more than was originally budgeted. The project required a grand investment of $418m, due in some part to the use of the expensive materials, according to one city official.

The construction of the three kilometres of Metrobus 9 de Julio, originally commissioned for $115m, cost the city $195m, 70% higher than originally stipulated. The 9 de Julio section of Metrobus, which connects Constitución with Retiro, ultimately cost the city $65m for each kilometre, or $11.5m for each of the 17 stops.

Additionally, the construction of Metrobus Sur, connecting Constitución with Puente La Noria, was originally slated at $118m, but had a final cost of $223m, an 89% difference. The cost per kilometre for Metrobus Sur was nearly $10m.

The director of the Metrobus project, Manuela López, shifted responsibility away from project managers and onto the city. “The amount of money to invest is the government’s decision,” López said.

Meanwhile, Buenos Aires City’s Undersecretary of Transport and Transit, Guillermo Dietrich, justified the exposed budgetary mismanagement in a conversation with La Nación.

“For the construction of Metrobus 9 de Julio, we chose the most expensive and most aesthetically pleasing materials, as well as those which blend best with the zone’s green space,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich acknowledged that cheaper materials could have been used, but that “it is okay to spend $200m for people to be comfortable.”

The Metrobus project has generated controversy from the beginning, when PRO management transplanted some 200 trees located on 9 de Julio. Mayor Mauricio Macri, who inaugurated the 9 de Julio Metrobus in July, has since billed the project as an example of the city’s efforts to be a green city and reduce pollution downtown.

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Buenos Aires Ombudsman Denounces City Government for Budget Cuts

(Photo courtesy of Prensa PRO)

Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri (Photo courtesy of Prensa PRO)

A report by the Buenos Aires City Ombudsman criticised the reallocation of funds away from socially sensitive areas, such as housing and social development, carried out by the government.

The report indicates that “during this year, the government of the City of Buenos Aires systematically reallocated budgetary allocations for the most vulnerable social sectors, which should have been given preferential treatment by the state”.

According to the same report, the Macri administration cut a total of $62.5m to the budget of the City’s Housing Institute, which were earmarked to cover “crucial” areas. The Ministry of Social Development also suffered cuts for $20m, on various of its programmes.

“As a consequence, the reach of public services in guaranteeing the right to food and housing is reduced. This is in direct contradiction with what the legislature [which approved the budget] specified”, the report added.

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