Buenos Aires Times

argentina KEY STORIES FROM THE LAST SEVEN DAYS

February 5-9: What we learned this week

From Debora Perez Volpin's shocking death, to a daylight shootout between police and thieves and death penalty furore.

Saturday 10 February, 2018
"Besazo" protest stood in support of Mariana Gomez. Foto:AFP/ EMILIANO LASALVIA

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LABOUR PAINS, DATE SWITCHED

The February 22 anti-government protest called by trade union sectors allied with teamster Hugo Moyano has now changed its date to February 21 to avoid clashing with the sixth anniversary of the Once rail tragedy, but otherwise the battle lines remain much the same. In a bid to ensure the absence of the more moderate trade unions from the protest, the Mauricio Macri presidency is dropping its opposition to collective bargaining agreements including protection against inflation as well as proposing to give unionrun healthcare schemes an easier ride (favours which will not be offered to those backing the protest). While shunning Moyano’s protest, mainstream unions have told the government that its 15-percent wage increase cap has no chance unless accompanied by compensation for inflation – otherwise they will be pushing for 20-25 percent. The CTA labour umbrella, which will be joining Moyano’s protest, will be staging a national strike of its own on February 15. Meanwhile the investigation of various court cases against the Moyano family continues.

DÉBORA PÉREZ VOLPIN DIES

Débora Pérez Volpin, 50, a veteran television news show hostess who has been City legislator for Martín Lousteau’s Evolución party since December, died on Tuesday of a heart attack while undergoing an endoscope probe for a stomach complaint. Manslaughter charges have been lodged against Trinidad hospital for presumed malpractice after perforations were found in her throat and stomach.

CHOCOBAR CONTROVERSY, DEATH PENALTY FURORE

The controversy over Buenos Aires provincial policeman Luis Chocobar’s slaying of a violent robber has now reached the level of demands for changes in the law of the land with Security Minister Patricia Bullrich calling for the benefit of the doubt for such police actions to be enshrined in the Criminal Code while Jaime Durán Barba, Mauricio Macri’s main spin doctor, urged the introduction of the death penalty as enjoying majority support among public opinion.

TAIANO SEEKS TO MOVE ON IRAN-MOU CASE

Federal Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano on Tuesday called for Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and 10 other defendants to be sent to trial over the previous president’s 2013 memorandum of understanding with Iran, denounced by the late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman. The other 10 defendants include former foreign minister Héctor Timerman, who the following day received clearance for a visa to travel to the United States for cancer treatment.

CALLS TO END HOUSE ARREST FOR ETCHECOLATZ

The house arrest of former deputy Buenos Aires provincial police chief Miguel Etchecolatz (repeatedly convicted for crimes against humanity during the 1976-83 military dictatorship) in the Atlantic coastal resort of Mar del Plata continues to spark protests by human rights organisations and local residents. This week, prosecutors and human rights organisations called for his house arrest order to be revoked, while the Human Rights Secretariat has also cautiously added its voice, expressing concern over rumours the conditions of his house arrest have been broken.

TEACHER PAY DISPUTE RAISES VIDAL’S HACKLES

With the start of classes now only three weeks away, Buenos Aires province Governor María Eugenia Vidal is increasingly turning her attention to the eternal pay dispute with teachers. Tensions are mounting with Vidal’s usual smile fading when she was confronted by a leafletwielding La Matanza teacher, resulting in a heated exchange and a snappy comment from the Cambiemos star. Meanwhile, her government is proposing an attendance bonus to add to the nationwide pay increase cap of 15 percent (but also as a warning that strike days will be docked).

SPANISH BOAT FINE

Last weekend a Spanish trawler was apprehended in territorial waters with over 320 tons of fresh fish aboard and fined 10 million pesos. Spanish authorities have denied the accusation.

BESAZO

Protesters puckered up for a collective kiss on Tuesday in front of a courthouse in the capital, to protest the prosecution of a woman in a case activists allege is homophobic. Mariana Gómez was arrested and charged with contempt of law enforcement in October. She alleges that police apprehended her for smoking in an unauthorised area as a cover to accost her and her spouse for kissing in public. Her wife, Rocio Girat, says the pair were saying goodbye before work when police approached. “Yes, we were embracing,” she told AFP. “It’s the first time they have arrested a person for smoking, which is in any case an infraction punishable by fine.” She said her partner was handcuffed for three hours, and even though she told police they were married, Gomez’s status was listed as single. “That makes it clear that there was hatred,” Girat said. “They spoke to me as if I were a friend, when we are married.”

MACRI MEETS SAN JUAN RELATIVES

On Tuesday President Mauricio Macri finally received the relatives of the 44-strong crew of the submarine San Juan (missing since mid-November) and offered an international reward of US$4 million for its location. Macri also said that Russian participation in search efforts would continue until the end of this month.

SHOOT-OUT

A shootout between police and criminals seeking to hold up a downtown jeweller resulted in two people wounded, one of them labour court judge María Alejandra D’Agnillo and the other one of the thieves.

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