Tag Archive | "YPF"

YPF to Reveal ‘Secret Clauses’ of Chevron Contract

Argentina’s Supreme Court has ruled that state oil company YPF must make public the secret clauses of its July 2013 agreement with US company Chevron.

In July 2013, Ali Moshiri Chevron CEO for South America (left) and YPF CEO Miguel Galuccio signed a deal to exploit Vaca Muerta oilfield. (Photo : Press YPF/Télam/aa)

In July 2013, Ali Moshiri Chevron CEO for South America (left) and YPF CEO Miguel Galuccio signed a deal to exploit Vaca Muerta oilfield. (Photo : Press YPF/Télam/aa)

Argentina’s highest court found that the agreement, which concerns operations in the massive Vaca Muerta oil field in Neuquén province, is of “public interest” and that therefore “it is unacceptable, within the principles of a democratic society, that [YPF] refuses to offer information that would make its management public and transparent.”

The court found that since the state has owned 51% of YPF since 2012 when it seized Repsol’s controlling stake, and given that the government has a demonstrably strong influence over the company, it must operate according to the laws allowing anyone to request information from a state-run institution.

This overturns a 2014 ruling from the Federal Administration’s Litigations Chamber, which found that the deal was effectively between two private companies and therefore not subject to freedom of information.

YPF said that it will adhere to the court’s ruling “according to the current regulations and within the established periods.” However it also reiterated the arguments used in its previous defence, saying that according to the law under which shares were expropriated in 2012, “the company operates as a publicly held company” and is not covered by the decrees which govern access to information of state-run enterprises. The statement also highlighted that the deal had brought 5,000 jobs and US$2.5bn to the country.

Cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández said this morning that the Supreme Court’s ruling is an “attack on [Argentina’s] judicial security, because it will prevent companies who want to invest in Argentina from doing it on terms they’ve agreed.” He characterised the decision as “politically motivated”.

Yesterday’s verdict is the culmination of a prolonged legal process started by socialist Senator Héctor Rubén Giustiniani in 2013 after YPF rejected his request for information on the activities to be carried out, particularly on their environmental implications.

YPF station in Vaca Muerta, Neuquén (photo: Pepe Delloro/Télam/aa)

YPF station in Vaca Muerta, Neuquén (photo: Pepe Delloro/Télam/aa)

Opposition leaders and environmental groups have condemned the deal, saying that its undisclosed clauses likely contain concessions to Chevron which undermine national interests.

Giustiniani praised the Supreme Court’s decision, saying that there should not be “secret clauses in the contract” which may “oblige the country to hand over an area which is the third richest in the world in unconventional petrol and gas for 35 years.”

Article 10 of decree 1172/2003, which regulates access to public information for business controlled by the executive, sets a term of 30 days for the provision of information in cases such as these.

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Neuquén: Mapuche Community Blocks Access to Shale Oil Field

Mapuche protesters block access to Loma Campana oil field (photo: Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén)

Mapuche protesters block access to Loma Campana oil field (photo: Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén)

Mapuche community Campo Maripe blocked all three accesses to the Loma Campana oil field, part of the Vaca Muerta formation operated by YPF. They have put forward a series of demands that they consider “basic” to “guarantee Mapuche life”.

The protesters, backed by the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, arrived at Loma Campana yesterday morning. In the afternoon, a number of them chained themselves to a tower within the site. Prosecutor Marcelo Jara issued an order for the demonstrators to vacate the site, threatening to have them evicted otherwise. However, shortly afterwards a “negotiation channel” was opened between the national government and the protesters, and the police left the area, according to the local press.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén issued a statement specifying the demands put forward by the Campo Maripe community. They demand that authorities legalise the situation of their communal lands, legally recognise the community, and consult them before the implementation of any project to be carried out on their lands.

“The lands we used yesterday to raise our animals or support our farms, have today been destroyed. Dozens of new tracks and paths are opened everyday, all kinds of machines circulate by the hundreds, wells drilled in record time have transformed our community landscape, spills and explosions have occurred over and over in the last few weeks, many of them concealed by YPF and the Environment Secretariat of Neuquén, terrible cases of workers dead by lack of safety and controls by the relevant authorities, it is all part of a reality that has transformed our life,” said the Mapuche Confederation in a statement.

The ongoing conflict between the Campo Maripe community and local and national authorities for recognition of their legal status and rights over their lands began early last year, before the agreement with Chevron for the exploitation of Vaca Muerta was signed.

YPF issued a statement saying that the company “has contacted the protesters to warn them about the risks for them, for YPF personnel, and for the community in general, of approaching production areas without the minimum security measures in place.” The statement added that “the protest is external to the company and is related to the recognition of legal status that the Campo family has requested provincial authorities.”

Jorge Nahuel, a Mapuche werken (traditional leader), stated that the protesters “will remain there through the long weekend if the provincial and national authorities do not take responsibility and give an answer to our demands.”

Loma Campana is a non-conventional (shale) oil field, part of the Vaca Muerta formation, and the second largest oil production site in the country, after Cerro Dragón in Chubut.

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Neuquén: Major Gas Leak in Vaca Muerta Oil Field

Members of the local indigenous community inspect the hydrocarbon spill from the gas leak (Photo via Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén)

Members of the local indigenous community inspect the hydrocarbon spill from the gas leak (Photo via Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén)

State oil company YPF said it had stopped a significant gas leak at Loma Campana, part of the Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas field in Neuquén province. The leak lasted for 16 hours, and caused a fire, though no one was injured in the incident.

According to local press, the incident began at 2am on Tuesday morning when a surge of compressed gas broke the main gas pipe during routine drilling in one of the wells. It occurred as operators hit the conventional Quintuco gas reserve at a depth of 2,200 metres while drilling to reach the Vaca Muerta shale reserve a further 600 metres underground.

As a safety measure, personnel operating within a radius of 800 metres around the gas leak were evacuated.

According to a press release from YPF: “There were no injuries of any type, nor material damage. Preventative measures and controls were taken to remove any source of ignition so as to minimize the possibility of fires.”

The company said it was investigating the cause of the leak.

The pressure of the gas leak sprayed hydrocarbon and chemical residue up to 13 metres high, covering the surrounding area, which will now be treated. Provincial Environment Secretary Ricardo Esquivel said the leak had an impact on the local environment, though added that this was not severe.

However, local indigenous communities, which have been protesting against the exploitation of the Vaca Muerta field on their land, condemned authorities for playing down the incident.

“There is a large toxic cloud [of gas] and a big oil spill,” declared a statement released yesterday by Mapuche community lof Campo Maripe. “The province is not equipped, either in terms of infrastructure or controls to prevent this type of situation.

“Here at the foot of the well that exploded we remain anxious, trying to save our animals that today live among the wells. We know that reporting the death of dozens of animals can sound insignificant compared to the millions being extracted from our land, but it is destroying our community and economy.”

“The cover everything up,” added community leader Albino Campo. “Nobody explains anything, nobody saw anything. We are here every day seeing this – nothing is safe about what they are doing.”

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President to be Investigated Over Vaca Muerta Deal

YPF station in Vaca Muerta, Neuquén (photo: Pepe Delloro/Télam/aa)

YPF station in Vaca Muerta, Neuquén (photo: Pepe Delloro/Télam/aa)

A Buenos Aires court has ordered an investigation be opened on the Chevron-YPF deal for the exploitation of the Vaca Muerta oil field, which would involve president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The court must determine whether the president acted illegally when she signed a decree in 2013 which awarded certain benefits to oil companies with large investment projects in the country, right before YPF signed the Vaca Muerta agreement with Chevron.

The president was sued last year by representatives from political party Nueva Izquierda for abuse of power, breach of duty, and attempted environmental damage. Though the prosecutor had ruled that the lawsuit be dismissed, judge María Servini de Cubría annulled the ruling and gave the investigation the go-ahead.

The basis for the lawsuit is that “[decree 929/2013], simultaneous to the agreement signed between YPF and multinational company Chevron (ex Standard Oil), has been sanctioned with the clear intention of benefiting said North American oil company in the hydrocarbon exploitation in the Vaca Muerta oil field.”

The government, through Chief of Cabinet Jorge Capitanich, said that the lawsuit “has a clear and manifest political intention” and that “this type of actions don’t come from nowhere, and in Argentina there are internal and external agents that hope to affect the country’s strategic interests with these court actions.”

“The negotiation systems are clear and transparent, based on the uses of local legislation and compliant with the constitution and the law,” added Capitanich.


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Argentina News Roundup: 7th May 2014

Pilot Braves Weather Conditions to Deliver Heart: A pilot managed to land his plane at the Córdoba city airport yesterday despite a thick fog that had rendered the airport inoperable. He was carrying a heart that was to be transplanted to a patient at a local hospital. Claudio Pistone, the pilot, had picked up the heart from Mendoza and was about to take off for Córdoba yesterday morning when he was advised that the Pajas Blancas airport was shut down due to the unfavourable weather conditions. “When the doctors arrived, we told them we were unable to take off and we didn’t have an estimated time; we could only wait and see whether climate conditions improved,” said Pistone. However, as the heart had to be transplanted within six hours, the pilot decided to take off as soon as he was informed of a slight improvement in visibility. “We were minutes away from not being able to do the transplant,” said the pilot. “When we arrived [in Córdoba] there was very little visibility; suddenly we could only see 50 metres ahead.” However, Pistone managed to manoeuvre the plane and land safely and in time for the organ to be transplanted. “Completing the task was the mot important thing; we were very happy when we landed, because the doctors were already thinking it was all lost,” said the pilot. The patient, who had been on the national transplant waiting list since 2nd May, was transplanted shortly afterwards and is recovering favourably.

Repsol Sells Off YPF Shares: Spanish company Repsol has sold off its 12% stake in the Argentine oil company. The shares were sold to Morgan Stanley for US$1.25bn (US$28 each) and it has been reported that the US financial firm has already sold them on to an undisclosed buyer. The move comes just as the Argentine state prepares to issue US$5.3bn in bonds which will be given to Repsol as compensation for the expropriation of a large part of their YPF shares (51% of the company) in 2012. It will be the country’s first debt issuance since the 2010 debt swap.

New Culture Minister Teresa Parodi at the government house (photo: Argentine government)

New Culture Minister Teresa Parodi at the government house (photo: Argentine government)

President Creates Culture Ministry: Through a decree published in today’s Official Gazette, president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner created a Ministry of Culture. The new minister, singer Teresa Parodi, will be sworn in this afternoon. She was appointed as former Culture Secretary Jorge Coscia handed in his resignation, “as per the president’s request.” The decree justifies the measure by stating that “the importance of culture as conducive to development and social cohesion, of its relevance in terms of cultural diversity and integration of minorities, as well as in the processes of gender equality and linking of urban and rural communities, make it necessary to upgrade this area” from a secretariat to a ministry.


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Argentina News Roundup: 24th April 2014

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich announcing the discontinuation of publishing of poverty statistics (Photo: Ricardo Ceppi/Prensa Jefatura de Gabinete/Télam/jc)

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich announcing the discontinuation of publication of poverty statistics (Photo: Ricardo Ceppi/Prensa Jefatura de Gabinete/Télam/jc)

Government Discontinues Publication of Poverty Statistics: The National Institute for Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) will not be publishing the results of the ‘Permanent Homes Survey’ (EPH) for the second semester of 2013. Cabinet Chief, Jorge Capitanich, said this morning that the results would not be made public as there were “methodological problems” due to the updating of some ways of calculating the information, which has led to the data being “lacking”. He said that the new federal consumer price index, introduced in January, had caused the issues, as calculations had changed from being a provincial to a country-wide in some areas. Capitanich went on to say that when the figures were deemed to be correct, they would be published once again, although he could not give a date as to when that would be.

Critics have called the decision political, saying the government is deliberately hiding the numbers as poverty has increased. Former director if INDEC, Graciela Bevacqua, told InfoBAE that she believes the number of those living in poverty in the country could be over 20%. The EPH published in October, which gave figures for the first semester of 2013, showed 1.2m people lived below the poverty line, and 367,000 in extreme poverty, representing 4.7% and 1.2% of the country’s population respectively. The figures also showed a decrease in the numbers living in poverty from the previous year. However, these numbers were widely disputed by private consultants, some of whom put the numbers at closer to 5m and 1m respectively, whilst others said the number living in poverty is around 25% of the country’s population.

Buenos Aires Province Crime Statistics Published: The official Attorney General’s report on 2013 crime statistics in Buenos Aires province was published today, and shows a rise in crimes in many areas. Around 70% of the cases occurred in Greater Buenos Aires, where 12m of the province’s 16m inhabitants reside. Last year, 1,295 murders took place, an 8% rise on 2012. Of these, 76 were a result of robberies. The total number of robberies and thefts also rose, from 124,000 in 2012 to 143,000 last year, an increase of 15%. There were also 52 kidnappings for ransom, 18 more than the previous year. The one area where the numbers were down on 2012’s statistics was in the case of rape and sexual violence, which saw a 13% fall. Of the crimes reported, two areas of Greater Buenos Aires saw a large number of the crimes – Lomas de Zamora experienced 15% of the total number of crimes, followed by San Martín, at just over 10%. Earlier this month Governor Daniel Scioli declared a “security emergency” in the province, and invoked special measures for a period of 12 months, including the recall of 15,000 police officers from retirement.

Deputies applaud as the agreement becomes law (photo: Fernando Sturla/Télam/jc)

Deputies applaud as the agreement becomes law (photo: Fernando Sturla/Télam/jc)

Agreement with Repsol over YPF Expropriation Becomes Law: After almost 16 hours of debate in which over 120 speeches were made, deputies have signed into law the agreement with Repsol over 2012’s renationalisation of 51% shares in Argentina’s YPF oil company. The vote, which took place in the early hours of this morning, had 135 votes in favour, 59 against, and 42 abstentions. Repsol and the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed the settlement on 27th February, which consists of a fixed package of three types of sovereign bonds with a nominal value of US$5bn, and a complementary package of three other bonds worth a maximum of US$1bn, to cover any reductions in the market value of the first package. Opening yesterday’s debate, president of the Energy and Fuel Commission, Mario Metaza, said that the agreement with Repsol over YPF “strengthens confidence in the country” and confers “a favourable climate for investment”. The Senate ratified the agreement in March, and with last night’s vote in Congress, the deal has officially become law, ending the country’s two-year quarrel with Spain over the expropriation.

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Argentina News Roundup: 10th April 2014

Puente Pueyrredón was one of the main access routes into Buenos Aires that was cut during today's national strike (photo: Carlos Brigo/Télam/dsl)

Puente Pueyrredón was one of the main access routes into Buenos Aires that was cut during today’s national strike (photo: Carlos Brigo/Télam/dsl)

National Strike a ‘Success’: Today’s general strike, which took place across the country, has been deemed a “success” by the organisers, opposition factions of the umbrella CGT and CTA unions. Transport services were disrupted on a national level as subtes, trains, and both urban and long-distance buses around the country went on strike, and flights were also affected. Around 40 pickets were set up on roads around the country, including the main roads into Buenos Aires, disrupting traffic that attempted to enter the capital. As a result of the country-wide disruption to transport services, classes were suspended, despite the teachers’ unions not being involved in the strike, and in the cities of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, and Mendoza, a large number of people didn’t go to work – either because they actively participated in the strike or due to not being able to physically get there. Whilst the strike was mostly peaceful, although some violent incidents were noted, including two separate attacks on Mar del Plata taxi drivers who continued to work today. In San Luis a municipal inspector has been hospitalised after being hit by a truck, after some “incidents” were noted in the bus station belonging to Transpuntano. It is not yet clear if the two events were related.

Massive Drug Raid by Police in Rosario: More than 3,000 federal security officers were involved in a massive operation against drug trafficking in Rosario yesterday. According to Security Secretary, Sergio Berni, it was “the biggest operation in the history of Argentina”, which involved officers from the Federal Police, Gendarmes, Coast Guard, and Airport Security Police. Underground tunnels were found in various zones of the city, thought to have been used by drug traffickers to escape authorities. Twenty people were arrested after raids on around 100 houses, where at least 1,000 doses of cocaine and paco were found. The operation, which took months of planning, was hailed a success by Berni, and a first necessary step to unravelling the drug web the city is entangled in. He went on to say that around 2,000 officers – 1,500 Gendarmes and 500 Coast Guard officers – will remain in the city for the coming months to reinforce the local security forces and help in the “pacifying” of the city, which has been marred in recent years by increasing levels of violence tied to drug trafficking. In related news, seven high-ranking police officers from the city’s Judicial Division have been relieved of their duties after being accused of having ties to the city’s drug ring.

Chevron Ratifies Vaca Muerta Development Plan: Oil giant Chevron has decided to continue its partnership with YPF to advance the development stage of extraction of the massive shale gas deposits in Vaca Muerta, Neuquén. The plan includes the perforation of 170 new wells this year, and a joint investment of US$1.6bn. The pilot project, which was developed until March, included the development of an area of 20km2 and the drilling of 161 wells. Now the site will be expanded to develop an area of 395km2, including more than 1500 wells, capable of a daily production of 50,000 barrels of oil and 3m cubic metres of natural gas. The total area of the Vaca Muerta field is around 30,000km2. It was also announced that YPF and Chevron have reached a new agreement to explore in Narambuena, a 200km2 region also in Neuquén.

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Argentina News Roundup: 27th March 2014

The senate debate the government's agreement with Repsol (photo: Fernando Sturla/Telam/ddc)

The senate debate the government’s agreement with Repsol (photo: Fernando Sturla/Telam/ddc)

Senate Ratifies Agreement with Repsol: Last night, Argentina’s senate approved the agreement met between the government and Repsol over 2012’s expropriation of 51% of YPF‘s shares from the Spanish oil giant. After 11 hours of debate, the senate passed the bill with 42 votes in favour, 18 against and 8 abstentions, paving the way for the ratification of the law. Repsol and the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed the settlement on 27th February, which consists of a fixed package of three types of sovereign bonds with a nominal value of US$5bn, and a complementary package of three other bonds worth a maximum of US$1bn, to cover any reductions in the market value of the first package. The agreement will allow the government to move forward with investments in YPF, bringing the two-year quarrel with Spain to an end. 

Reduction in Gas and Water Subsidies: Economy Minister Axel Kicillof has announced that the government is rolling back gas and water subsidies for households and businesses, with the money re-diverted to government social programmes Asignación Universal por Hijo and Progresar. Industries will be exempt from the new plan, which aims to promote “responsible consumerism”. In general terms, the cuts will of be around 20%, but in the cases of the highest consumers, the subsidy reduction for gas could reach 80%. For water, around 65% of households will have their subsidies reduced by $1-2 pesos per day, with the other 35% seeing an increase of $2.60 per day, based on neighbourhood. The partial removal will be rolled out over the coming months, with the full subsidy reduction in place by 1st August. Kicillof confirmed that those who already receive government benefits, such as social programmes, will continue to have their utilities bills subsidised.

FAO: “Zero Hunger Targets Met”: According to a report released by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Argentina has met its target of ‘zero hunger’. The report, entitled ‘Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean: Approaching the Millenium Targets’, data shows that the country, along with Venezuela and Chile, have met their goal of lower than 5% hunger. The government programme Asignación Universal por Hijo, a government allowance for low-income families whose children go to school, which was last year extended to include an allowance for pregnant women, is highlighted as being a fundamental pars of the reduction in hunger. Such policies are commended as being a more “complete” approach to tackling hunger, as they act as a compliment to other household incomes, allowing for the basic levels of food consumption to be met. The programme covered 3.5m people in 2012, costing the country almost US$2m.

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Argentina News Roundup: 13th March 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US would not back Argentina on holdouts (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

United States won’t back Government on Holdouts: US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has rejected the possibility that the US government would side with Argentina in the dispute over the holdouts on 2001-2 debt payments. Responding a Republican congressman’s question over whether the State Department would take a stance in favour of Argentina if the court required an opinion, he said “No, we wouldn’t”, going on to say that the US would continue pressuring Argentina to pay its creditors, both the public and private ones. He made particular reference to the US$600m that Argentina owes the US State – part of the US$9bn Paris Club debt – saying: “I’ll do everything in my power to get it back, as will the State Department.” The response comes as a blow to Argentina’s government, who had speculated that the Obama administration’s official position would back Argentina, with even Foreign Minister Héctor Timmerman have publicly mooted US backing. 

Pope Francis Celebrates 1st Anniversary: Today marked the one year since the Vatican nominated Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires to be the 266th pope, who took the name Pope Francis. The leader of the Catholic Church marked the day by tweeting “Pray for me”, a phrase he used when making his first appearance as pontiff, on the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica a year ago, and one he often used as the end of discourses when in Argentina. Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said that today “is a very important day for Argentina”, speaking of a “revolution of being“, and of the transformation of “spiritual leadership of Catholics and non-Catholics in the world”, highlighting that Pope Francis is the first Argentine and Latin American pope. In celebration of the anniversary, Buenos Aires metropolitan cathedral will hold a special mass today at 8pm, presided over by his successor, Cardinal Mario Poli.

Head of YPF Talks of Energy Revolution: Head of YPF, Miguel Galuccio, today said that Argentina has the energy reserves to not only recuperate energy supply, but to also undergo an “energy revolution”. He said that the country must decide if it wants to be “energy independent or dependent”, highlighting the recently discovered oil reserves, and also the country’s vast gas fields. He went on to highlight that since the government expropriated the company from Spanish oil giant Repsol in April 2012, investment has risen 130% and net profit 45%. The announcement comes at a time when other countries in Latin America are beginning to invest more in renewable energy, something that has dropped dramatically in Argentina – falling from US$500m to US$90m between 2012 and 2013 – since the discovery of more oil and gas reserves over the past couple of years.

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Argentina News Roundup: 11th March 2014

Police at the scene of the clash (photo: Tito La Penna/Télam/dsl)

Police at the scene of the fight (photo: Tito La Penna/Télam/dsl)

One Dead in Union Clash: One person was killed and another hospitalised as a result of a fight between rival union factions this morning. The incident occurred at a work site in Villa Fiorito, Greater Buenos Aires, and involved members from the construction workers’ union (Uocra). Darío Avalos, 39, died of a gunshot to the chest, whilst another person was taken to the Evita Hospital in Lanús, where he remains in a critical state. After the fight, the police arrested four people who were carrying slingshots, metal bars, and knives. According to Télam news agency, Uocra delegate Guillermo Santillán indicated that the fight started when a group of workers went to the site to ask for work and were attacked by people on the inside. Other sources believe today’s incident could be a revenge for a similar confrontation that took place ten days ago, where eight people were wounded.

YPF Finds New Oil Reserves: Oil company YPF announced the discovery of an oil field in the province of Río Negro expected to yield 15m barrels of crude. In a statement released today, the state-controlled company informed the reserves were found in the oil well Los Caldenes x-2, 30km north of the city of Cinco Saltos. “This new finding, together with others that were recently announced, is a landmark for YPF’s new management, since it will allow us to develop a new oil field, increase the production of conventional oil, and generate growth and development for the provinces involved and for the country,” said the statement. The exploration block had been inactive since 1999.

Football Violence Leaves Ten Wounded: Ten people, including three policemen, were wounded in a brutal fight that broke out just before a football match yesterday evening. The incident took place at around 7pm, before a match between Quilmes and All Boys, when a faction of the Quilmes barra brava attacked a “dissident” group in order to “gain control” of the stands in the club’s stadium. The rival factions used knives, metal bars, and flag poles as weapons. Mario Becerra, the son of the leader of the “dissident” faction, was left fighting for his life when he was kicked and beaten up as he was lying unconscious on the ground. Three people were arrested on the spot, and it has been reported that three barras who were taken to hospital escaped today before being discharged, whilst one remains handcuffed to his bed. Quilmes coach Ricardo Caruso Lombardi said about the incident: “It was a mess, we had no idea of what was going on. We were about to get to the stadium and we heard about what had happened,” adding that “this is bad for the football scene, we have a sick society where everyone wants to solve everything fighting and look how it all ends.”

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