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forest444

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Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as Leader of Britain’s Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn strengthened his grip on Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Saturday, beating back a challenge to his leadership by members of Parliament with increased support from the party’s rank and file.

The results of the summer-long leadership struggle were announced in Liverpool, in northwestern England, on the eve of the annual Labour Party conference.

Mr. Corbyn, a 67-year-old hard-left politician, won 61.8% of the more than 500,000 votes cast, up from the 59.5% he won a year ago, when his victory shocked and divided the party.

A revolt by Labour members of Parliament, who said they feared that Mr. Corbyn would lead the party to electoral disaster, came to nothing as their favored candidate, Owen Smith, won only 38.2% of the vote.

The result tightened Mr. Corbyn’s grip on the party and isolated many of its members of Parliament from a growing membership that is younger and more left-leaning, drawn by Mr. Corbyn’s policies to reduce inequality, make Britain non-nuclear and renationalize key areas of the economy, like the railways and energy.

The party has almost tripled its membership to more than 500,000, making it the largest political party in Western Europe, Mr. Corbyn said. But opinion polls regularly indicate that if an election were held tomorrow, Labour under Mr. Corbyn would suffer a historic defeat in the country as a whole.

In a victory speech, Mr. Corbyn called for unity, said that more held “the Labour family” together than divided it and vowed that the party would win the next election under his leadership.

At: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/world/europe/jeremy-corbyn-labour-party-leader.html?_r=0

Argentina's Chubut Province first to approve cannabis oil for medicinal use.

Chubut Province has become the first Argentine province to approve the use of cannabis oil in the public health system.

The bill, passed by the Legislature and signed yesterday by Governor Mario das Neves, provides for the use of a class of cannabis oil known as Charlotte’s Web in the public health system not only for epilepsy caused by the Dravet syndrome but also “for other pathologies that the provincial health minister deems appropriate.”

The oil is manufactured by a company in the United States, where it is considered a medical form of cannabis in some states. Charlotte’s Web has a low percentage of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. The law approved by the Legislature also stipulates that the oil be added into the list of medications covered by health programs provided to public employees.

Legislator Gustavo Fita of the center-left FpV, was “very satisfied because from now on Chubut families that need cannabis oil for the treatment of disease are no longer going to have the travel to the Customs Office in Buenos Aires (2,000 mi to the north) to obtain it. This treatment has reduced the number of seizures in epilepsy patients from 60 episodes to two to three per week, and of a lesser intensity. This will no doubt make this medication more available.”

Fita spearheaded the effort in the provincial legislature to approve the bill, which was eventually approved with 15 FpV votes, one from President Mauricio Macri's right-wing 'Let's Change' coalition, and several abstentions. The Macri administration opposes the use of medicinal marijuana, and has stepped up efforts to interdict its production and distribution from Argentina's rainy northeast as well as from Paraguay.

María Cecilia Rodríguez, Security Minister from 2013 to 2015 under Macri's populist predecessor, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had stated that “the war on drugs has failed at a global level” and called for nationwide decriminalization of marijuana in the near future. Her stance created a backlash in this largely conservative Catholic nation of 43 million, although imports of small quantities of cannabis oil were approved for treatment of debilitating conditions.

Ana María Nicora, head of the CAMEDA medical cannabis organization, applauded the news. “It has opened up possibilities to move forward with the use of cannabis oil as a treatment; but we need a national law and domestic production,” she said.

Former President José “Pepe” Mujica on December 10, 2013, made neighboring Uruguay the first nation in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale, and consumption of marijuana - medicinal or not.

To Gustavo Fita, it's a matter of public health. “Micaela (a 7 year-old Chubut resident) had seen numerous specialists, took up to 27 pills a day, and was still suffering up to 10 seizures a day lasting up 35 minutes. Her mother, Carola, was hesitant to pursue alternative treatments; but today Micaela's seizures occur two or three times a week, and are less intense.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/222003/chubut-first-to-accept-cannabis-oil

Macri and de la Rúa families among the Argentines found offshoring in recent Bahamas Leaks.

A fresh batch of documents leaked from the corporate registry of the Bahamas has revealed offshore shell companies with links to Antonio and Fernando de la Rúa — sons of former Argentine President Fernando de la Rúa — and to the family of current President Mauricio Macri.

The roughly 1.3 million documents, first obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its media partners, has uncovered a new offshoring scandal known as the “Bahamas Leaks.” This leak includes documentation from 1990 to 2016, and is the largest such scandal since the 11.5 million document “Panama Papers” leak revealed on April 3.

According to a report, the Macri family’s Grupo Socma holding invested $10 million in capital into ViajeYa.com, an online tourism booking service, in April, 2000. Socma reportedly had a minority stake in the company - about 10% - and the investment was said to have been channeled through the Cayman Islands. Socma reportedly sold its stake in 2001, and the firm closed in 2004.

At the time Mauricio Macri, who had recently launched his political career, was no longer a Socma director; but had shares in the holding.

The conservative daily La Nación indicated that the Macri family had previously declared the investment to Argentine tax authorities. Participating in offshore firms is not illegal in and of itself if it is duly reported. It nonetheless raises questions about possible tax evasion.

The ViajeYa.com revelations were preceded days ago by revelations that the Macris used a cutout - Uruguayan accountant Santiago Lussich Torrendell - to manage at least one Bahamas firm: Karter Properties, founded in 1999. No one in the Macri family is directly named in the company directory for Karter, possibly a reason why its name did not surface initially.

The Macris have been linked, by way of the Panama Papers and Open Corporates leaks, to over a dozen offshore firms in numerous tax havens. Many of these were opened at the elder Macri's behest by disgraced Panamanian corporate law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Other offshore shell companies linked to Macri include Fleg Trading, Kagemusha, Foxchase Trading, and the Danae Alliance Company, as well as a Merrill Lynch investment account.

Federal investigations

Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello has requested that the Anti-Corruption Office (OA) and the City of Buenos Aires analyze Macri’s sworn statements from 2013 to 2015 part of an investigation to determine if the then-mayor “maliciously omitted” this information from his financial disclosure statements.

Prosecutor Federico Delgado had requested on June 8 that a review of the statements be conducted by experts from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA); but Casanello instead entrusted the reviews to the OA and officials under Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. This was controversial because both the OA director, Laura Alonso, and Mayor Rodríguez Larreta are Macri loyalists.

de la Rúa implicated

Yesterday's Bahama Leaks also revealed that former President Fernando de la Rúa's sons, Antonio and Fernando, were listed as principals in two Bahamas offshore firms: Furia Investments Holdings Inc and Bonds Cay Development Bahamas, which were opened in 2006.

Speaking to Suddeütsche Zeitung, the former president claimed to have no knowledge of his sons’ business interests; but admitted knowing that his son Antonio and Colombian pop star Shakira had lived in the Bahamas as a couple and had business ventures on the island. He maintains that paperwork for the companies had been duly filed with Argentine tax authorities.

De la Rúa, 79, served as President of Argentina from 1999 to 2001, and is best remembered for presiding over the most severe socio-economic crisis in the country since the 1890 Baring Brothers panic. He has been a vocal supporter of President Macri, a fellow right-winger.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/221907/families-of-macri-de-la-r%C3%BAa-named-in-new-leaks

Macri falsely touts agreement with Theresa May over future Falklands sovereignty talks.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri stirred controversy both domestically and abroad yesterday after telling journalists in New York that British Prime Minister Theresa May had agreed to a discussion over the two nations' sovereignty dispute over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.

According to President Macri, he and Prime Minister May spoke briefly on the sidelines of the 71st United Nations General Assembly yesterday — their first meeting after much speculation that a face-to-face meeting was imminent. Soon afterwards, the president said that he had told Prime Minister May that he “was ready to start an open dialogue that, of course, includes the issue of the sovereignty of the islands.”

Asked what May said in response, Macri responded that “she said that 'well, yes, that we should start'. These things take years; but it is important that we start. And she agreed.”

It appeared to be a diplomatic feather in the cap for the president — but barely an hour later, Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra felt the need to walk back the comments. Shortly after the president’s remarks became known, Malcorra clarified that though the matter of sovereignty is a priority for Argentina,“to say that the issue is on the table, and that we have agreed to advance on this issue — there is long way to go.”

The Macri administration has recently come under fire from various opposition parties for agreeing to concessions in favor of the United Kingdom on the subject of natural resource rights in the Falklands despite the UK's ongoing refusal to negotiate.

Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and the UK Foreign Office Minister for Europe and the Americas, Sir Alan Duncan, recently agreed to a joint statement which called for a greater number of flights from the Argentine mainland to the islands in exchange for a lifting of economic restrictions placed by Buenos Aires on foreign exploitation of natural resources close to the islands.

Malcorra's concession, albeit informal, thus appeared to undermine a UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) ruling on March 27 that effectively extended Argentina's maritime rights over the country's entire Atlantic Ocean continental shelf - which includes the area around the Falklands. The UK, per the CLCS ruling, would only retain an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) over the 12 nautical miles within Falklands territorial waters.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/221865/macri%E2%80%99s-claims-over-malvinas-talks-denied-by-malcorra

Capital flight from Argentina doubles since Macri took office, adding $37 billion in foreign debt.

The Central Bank of Argentina reported that capital flight rose to $1.5 billion in August, reaching a total of $9 billion during the first eight months on 2016. This was twice the level of capital flight registered in the first eight months of 2015.

Central Banks data shows that the increase in capital flight mostly took place by way of dollar hoarding, which reached $1.567 billion in August - a 130% jump from August 2015 dollar purchases. This practice was facilitated by a Central Bank decree deregulating the wholesale purchase of dollars and their transfer abroad. The decree, enacted with no congressional oversight, was signed on December 17, 2015 - a week after the right-wing Macri administration took office.

President Mauricio Macri repeatedly asserted that financial deregulation was necessary to attract foreign investment. Foreign direct investment, however, has declined by 51% during the first half of 2016. Increasing capital flight has in turn forced the Central Bank to intensify its dollar sales, which reached a net total of $503 million in August.

Exports, which Macri sought to stimulate by decreeing a 40% devaluation and a sharp cut in withholding taxes in his first week in office. Exports, however, were down 11% in July from the same time a year earlier, and mostly due to a 9% drop in volumes. While part of that was due to the deepening recession in Brazil, Argentina's largest trading partner with around 30% of the total, the devaluation proved counterproductive to export competitiveness in that it also doubled inflation to 47% at its peak in July.

Record foreign debt

"Everything indicates that the exchange rate of 15 pesos remains uncompetitive for exporters, and is instead an incentive to hoard foreign currency and to travel abroad," economist Miguel Ángel Broda, a supporter of the adminsitration, told Ámbito Financiero. Indeed, the demand for tourism dollars so far this year has risen by 16%.

In all, gross international reserves at the Central Bank fell by $1.36 billion in August to $31.15 billion. Central Bank reserves have, even so, risen by $5.6 billion - something often touted by the Macri administration as proof of policy success. The increase, however, is entirely due to a $37.3 billion net increase in public foreign debt, which ballooned from $83.9 billion in December 2015 to $121.2 billion in June.

This is the sharpest such increase on record, and made up 60% of all new emerging market debt over the same period.

Argentina's public foreign debt is now an all-time high, eclipsing the $116.2 billion reached in December 2004 - just before former President Néstor Kirchner shaved $50 billion in foreign debt by way of a successful bond swap with 76% of bondholders (this grew to 93% after a second swap in 2010).

Some $16.5 billion, the largest single bond issue ever for a developing country, was contracted in April to pay off Caribbean vulture funds and other holdouts which had bought old, defaulted Argentine bonds for pennies on the dollar had been granted payouts averaging 1,600% by New York courts.

Inconvenient at this time

Besides foreign obligations and capital flight, much of this added debt has gone to finance yawning budget deficits. The federal deficit is projected to rise by 60% in peso terms, from 225 billion in 2015 to 360 billion pesos in 2016. While the dollar figure would be similar ($24 billion), in terms of ratio-to-GDP the fiscal deficit would rise from 3.9% in 2015 to 4.8% this year - the highest since 1990.

Macri had made rising budget deficits a centerpiece of his 2015 campaign. Economy Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, who presented the administration's 2017 budget request to Congress last week, admitted, however, that "a lower deficit would be inconvenient at this time." While his 2017 budget projects a federal deficit of 4.24% of GDP - a slight improvement of 2016 levels - market analysts are skeptical over his assumptions of 3.5% economic growth and 17% inflation.

Inflation was 43.5% as of August and real GDP, according to official INDEC figures, contracted by 4.3% in June from the same time a year earlier.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201609/16624-se-duplico-la-fuga-de-capitales-en-lo-que-va-del-ano-supero-los-us-9000-millones.html&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http://www.diarioregistrado.com/economia/la-deuda-externa-ya-supera-los-188-000-millones-de-dolares_a57e1a4fbd17589f27a53e66c

Macri's accountant ties president to more Panama Papers firms

Argentine President Mauricio Macri's accountant may have inadvertently tied the Argentine leader to even more offshore tax havens, a report by Argentine online journal El Destape revealed Friday.

This offshore firm, named “Karter Properties,” is a shell company created in 1999 and tied to another Bahamas firm called Fleg Trading. Fleg, like Kagemusha SA and numerous other such offshore firms, was founded and run by Francisco “Franco” Macri, a prominent Argentine state contractor and President Macri’s father.

Macri was one of only five current heads of government listed in the Panama Papers scandal in April, when it was revealed that he was once a director and vice president of the Bahamas-based company Fleg Trading. Fleg was an offshore shell company set up by Mossack Fonseca, the disgraced Panama City corporate law firm at the center of the scandal.

Macri claimed Fleg Trading was set up for a venture in Brazil that was never active and was ultimately dissolved in 2009. An investigation by the Buenos Aires news daily Página/12 later found that the company was active and invested millions of dollars in Brazil for the Macri family's largest current business interest, the Pago Fácil wire transfer and bill payment service.

According to an investigation by Página/12, the two firms (Fleg and Karter) operated together, with lawyers and accountants dealing with them concurrently as shown by emails that ordered paperwork be carried out for both firms simultaneously.

The link between the two firms is an accounting firm ran by Santiago Lussich Torrendell in Uruguay, a favored destination for Argentine offshoring and tax evasion activities. Lawyers at both the Uruguayan firm and Mossack Fonseca were responsible for dealing with both Fleg and Karter.

Macri's accountant was called to testify in the investigation probing the president's potential improprieties by virtue of his association with offshore companies. Lussich himself is named in the documents as the person responsible for managing Fleg Trading. In his testimony, Lussich said he set up Fleg Trading upon the request of Franco Macri in March 1998.

“A few months later we asked (Panama) to provide us a template for the minutes of the Board of Directors to make a change: the departure of the initial three directors and admission of employees of Francisco Macri,” Lussich said under oath. This testimony appears to confirm suspicions that the Macri family would name employees as directors of companies in order to avoid having to list themselves as the directors.

Macri’s bother, Gianfranco, alone owns eight shell companies in Panama. According to economist Ezequiel Orlando, who has done research on the Macris’ links to offshore companies for El Destape, five out of the other seven companies in which Gianfranco Macri is a board member were established in December 12, 2007, only two days after Mauricio Macri became mayor of Buenos Aires.

The listed board of directors of those entities include Armando Amasanti, who was the chairman of Franco Macri's defunct automobile company Sevel in Argentina and was indicted, with Mauricio Macri, for involvement in a massive export and import tax evasion scheme in the late 1990s.

Most of the firms are still active, the investigation shows, while at least two of them - Foxchase Trading SA and Danae Alliance Company SA - were founded just as Macri was gearing up for his presidential run last year. Macri failed to declare any offshore firms as assets in his financial disclosures, as Argentine law requires for all candidates and public officials

At: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Macris-Accountant-Ties-President-To-More-Panama-Paper-Firms-20160919-0006.html

And: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/221786/new-company-linked-to-macri-family-in-panama-papers-documents

Macri administration orders 60,000 new bassinets for poor infants destroyed in Argentina.

Argentine Federal Judge Claudio Bonadío, a close ally of right-wing President Mauricio Macri, has ordered that over 60,000 bassinets intended for low-income expecting mothers be incinerated.

These items were part of Plan Qunita, a program to distribute 150,000 maternity kits that included a complete bassinet and 40 other infant care items. The program was launched in July 2015 by the Argentine Health Ministry under Macri's populist predecessor, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The Macri administration sought Bonadío's approval for their incineration citing "the significant costs their custody and storage currently generate." Critics, however, charge that Macri, who has frequently sought Bonadío's rulings in cases directed against Kirchner-era officials, resorted to forum shopping.

The decision has been condemned by pediatricians, children's rights activists, and clergy as none of the studies cited by Judge Bonadío or the Health Ministry recommend that the bassinets be recalled or disposed. The Health Ministry has not issued a recall for the 74,408 that have already been distributed.

The 60,000 kits have sat in storage since April, when Macri rescinded the program by decree after Judge Bonadío indicted former Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández, former Health Minister Daniel Gollán, and 22 other former officials and contractors for alleged overpricing. Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal, Macri's chief political ally, was the first to cease delivery of the kits in February, long before the Ministry of Health issued an opinion.

Former Health Minister Daniel Gollán pointed out that Bonadío annulled the results of the accounting investigation he himself ordered. While the Macri administration claims that "1.1 billion pesos ($70 million) were spent," their own published documentation shows that the six contractors involved were paid a total of 468 million pesos ($30 million).

Infants at risk

"The program had been operating perfectly, and its goal was to prevent 2,000 infant deaths and 100 maternal deaths a year," Gollán said in an interview with local news daily Página/12. "There is undisguised class hatred in Bonadío's ruling because it is the poorest who will stop receiving the benefit."

Some 8,200 Argentine infants (10.6 per 1000 live births) died before their first birthday in 2014. Pediatricians generally agree that bed sharing in households too poor to afford a crib or bassinet was a leading cause of preventable infant deaths in Argentina.

Dr. Alicia Benítez, Chief of Neonatology at the Sardá Maternity Hospital in Buenos Aires, noted that the 0800 line made available for customer service inquiries related to Plan Qunita "received around 20,000 calls, and not a single one involved a hazard." Each kit, she remarked, was distributed solely through the 289 participating maternity wards nationwide, where parents were instructed on their use and given follow-up appointments as a requirement for their Universal Pregnancy Entitlement (AUE) benefit.

The percentage of newborns having access to optimally safe sleeping conditions, according to Dr. Benítez, rose from 89% to 94% in just five months.

The Health Ministry cited a National Industrial Technology Institute (INTI) study from 2015, and a more recent one by the Argentine Pediatric Society (SAP) showing that the blankets "present a suffocation and overheating hazard" - but only if used incorrectly. None of the studies recommend the bassinets be recalled or disposed.

Dr. Alejandro Jenik, Chief of Neonatology at the Italian Hospital in Buenos Aires and internationally recognized authority on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), repudiated Bonadío's interpretation of the studies. "Before these cribs are destroyed, an interdisciplinary team should be formed to determine the feasibility of distributing the cribs with very strict recommendations for parents - primarily that they not be used after six months," he said.

The politics of children

Congresswoman Carolina Gailliard of the center-left FpV submitted a draft declaration in Congress to express concern over the decision to destroy the bassinets, and announced that next week the Health Committee in the House will summon Health Ministry officials to address the issue.

Dr. Gollán compared the decision to the systematic destruction in 1955 of everything from bed sheets to medical equipment and even entire orphanages because they bore the insignia of the Eva Perón Foundation; thousands of children died in a 1956/57 polio epidemic solely because iron lungs purchased by the foundation had been destroyed.

The historical parallel to the violent, right-wing coup against President Juan Perón and its aftermath was echoed by Pope Francis in March, when he told visiting Argentine clergy that "you are very young and weren't there to see it; but what is happening in Argentina is a kind of revenge towards the popular sectors and workers - much like in 1955."

"This discussion must be depoliticized," Dr. Jenik concluded. "Children's needs are urgent and children have no political factions."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2Fdiario%2Felpais%2F1-309345-2016-09-14.html

Argentina marks 10 years since disappearance of Dirty War trial star witness Jorge Julio López.

Ceremonies were held today in numerous Argentine cities to honor Jorge Julio López, the retired, soft-spoken bricklayer whose testimony was key in the 2006 conviction of former police inspector Miguel Etchecolatz for crimes against humanity during the Dirty War in the 1970s. López, who was 76 at the time, disappeared ten years ago today.

Prosecutors investigating López's disappearance have so far collated over five million phone records and examined the DNA of 98 John Doe bodies found between 2006 and 2015. The case, however, remains one of Argentina's most prominent unsolved mysteries.

López disappeared from his home in the the working-class suburb of Los Hornos, just south of La Plata, on September 18, 2006. His harrowing testimony was decisive in the trial against former Buenos Aires Provincial Police Chief Inspector Miguel Etchecolatz for crimes against humanity three decades earlier.

He was scheduled to give be the closing witness in Etchecolatz's trial at the First District Federal Court of La Plata the day of his disappearance, and was first noticed missing by his son. The court, headed by Judge Carlos Rozanski, sentenced Etchecolatz to life in prison the following day, September 19. He was only the second Dirty War defendant convicted following President Néstor Kirchner's signature of a bill rescinding amnesty for such perpetrators in 2003.

López's witness testimony was based on his experience as a political detainee between October 1976 and June 1979, during which time he was held without charges in three clandestine detention centers and repeatedly tortured. A bricklayer for many years, he was able to recognize at least two of his former places of captivity from masonry elements peculiar to each, even when some of them had been remodeled.

López's second disappearance was widely believed to have been carried out by former Provincial Police officers with ties to the dictatorship. Its intent, according to the governor at the time of the incident, Felipe Solá, was to “intimidate future witnesses or prevent their participation in other trials against dictatorship-era repressers.” A similar case, the murder of 84 year-old pianist Myrtha Raia days before was to testify in a case involving 41 former officers and 222 deaths, took place on January 29, 2013; all defendants were found guilty a year later.

“In those years it was inconceivable for us, in a democracy, to receive such a mafia-like message. One of such magnitude - the second disappearance of Jorge Julio López,” Judge Carlos Rozanski told the Buenos Aires Herald in an interview.

In sentencing Etchecolatz, Rozanski became the first judge to use the term “genocide” to describe the the crimes that took place under the fascist military dictatorship that ruled Argentine between 1976 and 1983. Around 300 secret detention centers were maintained nationwide, and an estimated 30,000 people were killed or disappeared in these between 1975 and 1979.

Etchecolatz, who responded directly to the Provincial Police Director Ramón Camps, managed at least 30 such detention centers. He was granted a transfer to house arrest by a La Plata tribunal on August 20 on account of his advanced age (87). The ruling has been appealed by plaintiffs - but not by the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, whose Justice Minister, Germán Garavano, was revealed to have held secret talks with Argentina's most prominent Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando.

Etchecolatz remains unrepentant, and has since twice been photographed in court writing intimidating messages to witnesses in other trials. The messages read simply “Jorge Julio López.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/221716/jorge-julio-l%C3%B3pez-no-answers-10-years-on

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/301716/a-diez-anos-la-justicia-no-tiene-pistas&prev=search

[center]

Jorge Julio López[/center]

Argentina marks 40th anniversary of 'Night of the Pencils' disappearance of eleven high schoolers.

The "Night of the Pencils" - the abduction of eleven high schoolers in the city of La Plata by security forces in retaliation for organizing protests in favor of a bus fare discount booklet for students - took place 40 years ago. The incident would become one of the most emblematic in the Dirty War being waged in the mid-to-late 1970s against dissidents, violent or non-violent, by the dictatorship at the time.

The students, whose ages ranged from 16 to 19, were all classmates at the Normal (teacher's) School N° 3 in La Plata, about 30 miles Southeast of Buenos Aires. They had earlier organized a mobilization that in October 1975 succeeded in having the Provincial Government implement a Secondary Student Ticket Book that allowed students to ride local buses at half fare. The benefit was demanded to help needy students, whose parents did not generally own cars, meet the soaring cost of public transport during that highly inflationary period.

The benefit was rescinded in August 1976, however, as the right-wing military dictatorship that had taken power that March implemented an austerity program featuring public sector layoffs, sharply higher interest rates, and reduced social spending. The students called a protest in response, and within days a Provincial Police Commissioner, Alfredo Fernández, presented a report calling for their disappearance as part of "a hotbed of a subversive potential."

Commissioner Fernández's 1976 report, found years later during the National Commission on Disappearances (CONADEP) investigation launched shortly after the dictatorship stepped down in 1983, was entitled Noche de los Lápices - the "Night of the Pencils."

The abductions were carried out in a joint operation by the Buenos Aires Provincial Police (based in La Plata) and the Army Battalion 601 over the course of two nights - September 16 and 17, 1976.

Due in part to the many inquiries by their parents and other loved ones, the students were transferred among several detention centers in La Plata and the southern districts of metro Buenos Aires. The dictatorship maintained around 300 such facilities nationwide, and an estimated 30,000 people were killed or disappeared in these between 1975 and 1979.

María Clara Ciocchini, Claudio de Acha, María Claudia Falcone (the leader), Francisco López Muntaner, Daniel Racero, Víctor Treviño, and Horacio Ungaro perished by firing squad, after prolonged torture and/or rape, in January 1977. Despite years of work by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), their remains have not yet been identified.

The four that survived - Gustavo Calotti, Pablo Díaz, Patricia Miranda, and Emilse Moller - did so thanks to family connections with police or the powerful Roman Catholic Church, most of whose leadership approved of and helped conceal the Dirty War. The Archbishop of La Plata at the time, Msgr. Antonio Plaza, was aware of these incidents and backed the Dirty War as well as amnesty years later - lest, in his words, "we face something like the Nürnberg Trials or people who might come for us, like they did with poor Adolf Eichmann."

These experiences were recounted by María Seoane and Héctor Ruiz Nuñez in the book La Noche de los Lápices, published in 1985. The book was made into a film of the same name by director Héctor Olivera in 1986.

Calotti was freed in 1977 and later emigrated to France, where he teaches school. Moller and Miranda, who were close friends, were freed in 1978; Moller is now a human rights activist and member of the Provincial Commission on Memory. Díaz, freed in 1980, testified in the historic Trial of the Juntas in 1985, which resulted in jail sentences for most of the former Junta leaders - but not for over 600 subordinates charged at the time, most of whom would enjoy amnesty until it was repealed by President Néstor Kirchner in 2003.

One of them, Buenos Aires Provincial Police Chief Inspector Miguel Etchecolatz, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for his role in multiple atrocities - including the Night of the Pencils. The star witness in his trial, 76 year-old Jorge Julio López, was himself abducted days after testifying against Etchecolatz, and remains missing.

Etchecolatz was granted house arrest by a La Plata tribunal on August 20 on account of his advanced age (87). The ruling has been appealed by plaintiffs - but not by the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, whose Justice Minister, Germán Garavano, was revealed to have held secret talks with Argentina's most prominent Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando.

The Students' Ticket Book was ultimately reinstated by former Governor Daniel Scioli in 2015. In recognition of the victims of this tragedy and of their struggle for the sake of their fellow students, September 16 is commemorated in Argentina as the Day of Reaffirmation of Rights of Secondary Students.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/301671/se-cumplen-40-anos-de-la-noche-de-los-lapices&prev=search

Argentine ruling party embroiled in law school exam cheating scandal.

The University of Buenos Aires collegiate chapter of the right-wing PRO, the ruling party in Argentina, is under fire following revelations that a number of its student members, as well as at least one professor, were involved in a cheating ring at the university's prestigious Law School.

The cabal was uncovered by the president of the Student Center at the School of Philosophy and Letters, Maxi Laplagne, who posted several screenshots from a WhatsApp group called "PRO UBA News."

The dialogue, taken from exchanges held on November and March, goes into some detail as to how students affiliated with, or a known supporter of, the right-wing PRO can receive "a guaranteed 7" (similar to a B in the U.S.) if vouched for by a student at the law school, Enrique Javier Guzmán.

Guzmán, described by one of those benefiting from the scheme as having "a black soul but not black skin," explicitly and repeatedly mentions that students in the group are to copy material written by him for use in upcoming exams. He added that students affiliated with the PRO were assured unlimited entry to certain coveted lectures.

Guzmán heads the PRO party list for candidates to the university's Consultative Council; at least two other students who took part in the exchanges, Facundo Arancio and Brenda Fewkes, are also PRO candidates for the Consultative Council and the University federation, respectively.

A history professor at the law school, Fernando Mendoza Cacciatore, was mentioned by Guzmán as a member of the PRO and as being "considerate" with students belonging to the same party. Professor Mendoza Cacciatore did not take part in the exchanges.

Another prominent member of the law school's PRO chapter not named in the incriminating dialogue, Nicolás Pechersky, was recently appointed Coordinator of Digital Projects in the Ministry of Modernization at a salary of 50,000 pesos ($3,270) a month - close to three times the median full-time wage in Argentina. Pechersky, known for his caustic op-eds in right-wing newspapers, had referred to public employees as "moochers" and supported the mass public sector layoffs ordered by President Mauricio Macri in January.

The layoffs were administered by the same Ministry of Modernization (a Macri creation) that hired Pechersky in August.

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