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forest444

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Macri's Undersecretary for Youth includes neo-Nazis in interparty conference.

The Undersecretary for Youth for Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Pedro "Piter" Robledo, is coming under fire for including two representatives of the country's main neo-Nazi party, Bandera Vecinal (Neighborly Flag), in a conference of political party youth chapters.

The conference, held on July 14 at the Casa Rosada presidential offices, included youth chapters from 18 parties and was presided by Chief of Staff Marcos Peña, Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley, and Robledo.

Attendees were surprised, however, to see two representatives from Bandera Vecinal, the country's only openly neo-Nazi party. The two men, Gastón Gama y Gabriel Kloster, reportedly contributed little to the discussion except for repeated demands that compulsory military training be reinstated. The colimba, as the year-long training was known in Argentina, was mandatory for all 18-year-old able bodied men; but in practice was usually avoided by the wealthy by way of influence or bribes. Plagued by abuses, the colimba was rescinded by former President Carlos Menem in 1995 after the death of a conscript the year before.

Robledo denied knowing that the neo-Nazi party was among those invited to the conference, and later claimed on Twitter that he believed they were merely "neighborly;" but Alejandro Biondini, jr - whose father founded the party - confirmed that Robledo had personally phoned Gastón Gama to invite him to the conference and to apologize to him for excluding Bandera Vecinal from a prior such meeting.

The senior Biondini founded the party as Nuevo Triunfo (New Triumph) in 1990 on a “family values,” anti-immigrant platform. The Argentine Supreme Court banned the party in 2009 for “advocating hatred” and using “symbols in the same manner as the Nazis” — a reference to their flag, which featured a number 7 stylized to look like a swastika. Biondini was also known for starting party meetings with the Nazi salute, as well as for exalting Hitler and for his espousal of Holocaust denial.

Following the ban, however, Biondini discontinued the salute and use of the swastika, thus paving the way for party's recognition by a Buenos Aires judge in 2014 under its current name.

Biondini's party contributes to a wider fascist movement in Argentina known as Alerta Nacional (National Alert), whose ideology is based on white supremacy and hatred of immigrants from neighboring countries (most of whom are indigenous or mestizo). Alerta Nacional helped organize numerous right-wing cacerolazo (pot-banging) protests in 2012 and 2013 against populist former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose social programs are resented by many right-wingers.

Bandera Vecinal endorsed Macri last year, and one of Biondini's closest associates, Leonardo Bariani, was appointed by Macri as Coordinator of Architectural Maintenance while he was mayor of Buenos Aires. They have since broken with Macri, however, over his refusal to broach the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty dispute, as well as his continuation of most of Mrs. Kirchner's social programs.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.laizquierdadiario.com%2FPiter-Robledo-junto-a-jovenes-nazis-en-Casa-Rosada
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[center]

They're not Nazis; just “neighborly.”[/center]

Argentine inflation rises to 47.1% and sales fall 9.8% as 'Macrieconomic' stagflation takes toll.

Inflation in Argentina reached 3.1% in June according to National Statistics Bureau (Indec). As has been the case since the Mauricio Macri administration took office in December, Indec refused to release an annual figure; but the City of Buenos Aires Statistics Bureau reported inflation at 47.1% compared to June 2015, the highest annual rate since January 1992.

Monthly inflation for goods slowed in June to 2.3%, the best showing since November; but remained high (4%) for most services - particularly health care (8.7%) and utilities (8.6%). Food prices rose by 3%.

Prices of all goods have risen by 43.5% in a year, while service prices did so by 50.4%. Service prices, which historically tend to rise more slowly than those for goods, were boosted by 186% higher rates for gas, 253.3% for electricity, and 282.8% for water. Service inflation was also steep in postal services (53.5%), public transport (50.3%), and private health insurance (48%) - all of which have suffered deep cutbacks in subsidies.

Consumer prices, according to the Buenos Aires statistical bureau, have risen by 29.2% so far this year and by 34.3% since Macri decreed a 40% devaluation in December.

Retail woes

Retail sales, meanwhile, continued to plummet, with the CAME medium business chamber reporting a sales decline of 9.8% by volume in June compared to the same month last year; appliances and electronics (-19.2%) and jewelry (-14.7%) suffered the steepest declines. New auto sales, one of the few bright spots so far this year thanks to a cut in luxury taxes, rose by 5.8% in the first half of 2016; but fell by 10.2% in June. Used car sales, meanwhile, plummeted by 30%.

June was the sixth consecutive month of declining retail sales, with sales down 6.4% so far this year. These woes are aggravating a difficult business climate in which 60% of small and medium firms report being in the red. Thousands of business have closed in the last several months, including 400 Buenos Aires restaurants - over three times the number during the first half of 2015 - with almost no new openings.

The most affected have been steakhouses and seafood restaurants. The Argentine Beef Industry Chamber (CICCRA) reported a 7.7% decline in consumption and an 11.4% fall in production over the same time last year. Poultry consumption, which tripled from 2002 to 2015 as Argentines reached for more heart-healthy options, fell 12%, and seafood consumption, by a whopping 35.4%.

One bright spot was pork consumption, which jumped by 23.8% in June over last year as price outweighed other considerations. Pork farmers, however, decried the Macri administration's decision to allow the Danish Crown Corporation to export pork and sausage to Argentina, which they allege is being sold to Argentine supermarkets at below-market (dumping) prices.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201607/15309-la-inflacion-portena-sigue-creciendo-y-ya-acumula-un-471-anual.html&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.redcame.org.ar/contenidos/comunicado/Las-ventas-minoristas-cayeron-9_8_-en-junio.1315.html&prev=search

Thousands protest Macri's 1000% utility rate hikes across Argentina.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri faced the largest demonstrations against his administration yet, as large crowds gathered yesterday in dozens of public squares and intersections across the county to decry the steep utility rate and fare hikes imposed by the government since April.

The “Ruidazo” (big noise) protests followed a series of decrees by the right-wing Macri administration that that both rescinded subsidies used by utility companies to keep rates down, as well as deregulating the rates themselves. The result has been rate increases that, despite administration assurances that they would be no higher than 300% and a separate Macri decree limiting them to 400%, have often reached 1000% or more above last year's rates.

The first protests were seen in the small but central Plaza de la República square, at the Corrientes and 9 de Julio intersection where the Obelisk stands. Leftist parties and Kirchnerist organizations initially joined unaffiliated individuals and groups with banners against the hikes. The protests, however, later spread to intersections across Buenos Aires - including many middle-class areas that had strongly supported Macri until recently.

Protests were also registered in the Greater Buenos Aires districts of Lanús, Avellaneda, and La Matanza, as well as in cities such as Bariloche, Córdoba, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Mendoza, Salta, San Juan, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. On Twitter, the #Ruidazo hashtag was the number one trending topic in Argentina for several hours.

It is currently winter in Argentina, and numerous protesters showed news cameras their current gas bills - often 2000-3000 pesos ($135-200), or approximately ten times more than the same time last year. The median monthly full-time salary in Argentina as of March is 16,500 pesos ($1,100).

Macri's Chief of Staff, Marcos Peña, justified the hikes, chastising his fellow Argentines for “using gas like rich people.”

Much of the public's ire, however, was focused on Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren, who has come under fire not only for the severity of the rate hikes; but also for having manifest conflicts of interest as a longtime CEO of and large shareholder in Shell Argentina, which has raked in record profits as a result. Aranguren still has the backing of the president, and changes in the cabinet are not seen as likely in the short term.

The Macri administration remains opposed to canceling the hikes despite a number of court injunctions ordering utility companies to roll back rates to March levels. In each case, the courts have pointed out that the increases are not only “unreasonable” but illegal because they were never submitted to public comment, as the law requires for all large rate hikes.

The rate hikes are part of a broader, IMF-endorsed austerity package which Macri defends as a way to trim the nation's growing budget deficit, which reached $25 billion last year (4% of GDP). Critics, however, point out that because the massive rate hikes also affect schools, hospitals, government buildings, and many other public institutions, the net savings would be at most $1 billion - a figure dwarfed by the $10 billion in tax cuts Macri enacted for agroexporters, large corporations, and the well-to-do.

The rate hikes have also contributed to a doubling in overall inflation to 47% a year as of June - twice the rate under Macri's populist predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Macri had made inflation a key campaign issue in last year's election, which he won narrowly.

The Church and Peronism

Two of the biggest sources of potential dissent since Macri took office last December, Peronists and the Catholic Church, also spoke out against the hikes yesterday, denouncing their impact on the middle and lower classes and on small- and medium-sized companies.

“Hikes this big in utility rates affect all the population; but especially in the lower-middle class, because they have a fixed income but no access to the benefits that protect the poorest,” the president of the Pastoral Commission of the Argentine Synod (CEA), Jorge Lozano, said yesterday.

The leader of the Justicialist Party (the party representing Peronism), José Luis Gioja, had even stronger words. “The governors are all fuming and it is not because their heating systems are switched on,” he said in reference to Macri's recent assertion that “Argentines like to turn their heat on in winter so they can walk around the house in their t-shirts and underwear.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/218096/thousands-protest-rate-hikes-across-country

Amid 70,000 state layoffs and recession, Argentina's Macri appoints a "Director of Rhetoric."

Official documentation emerged revealing that Argentine President Mauricio Macri, whose right-wing administration has presided over 70,000 public sector layoffs in a bid to "reduce spending," hired a General Director of Rhetoric earning a salary of 72,000 pesos ($5,000) - over four times the median monthly full-time wage in Argentina.

The appointment, signed by decree on May 19, was only published in the July 7 Official Bulletin. Critics have pointed out that the appointee, Julieta Herrero, lacks a college degree and other qualifications associated with a Class A post. The post itself, moreover, was created without congressional approval and may therefore be unconstitutional.

Herrero, 35, had minor clerical posts in the communications offices of both former President Néstor Kirchner and of Macri during his tenure as Mayor of Buenos Aires. Macri is known for being particularly reliant on speech writers and teleprompters, even employing "neck blowers" (sopla nucas) who stand behind him whispering responses on the few occasions in which he's taken questions from the press.

Macri has come under fire for appointing, and for allowing his cabinet ministers to appoint, numerous close friends and relatives to Class A administrative posts - high-ranking executive branch positions typically paying 50,000 to 120,000 pesos a month (see: http://www.democraticunderground.com/111676969). Those laid off, who typically earned 8,000 to 10,000 pesos a month, are habitually demonized as "political appointees" at best and more frequently, "plum job holders" (gnocchi, in the Argentine vernacular), by Macri surrogates.

The layoffs were part of a broader, IMF-sponsored austerity package that has triggered a deep recession with least 100,000 private sector jobs lost since taking office in December. Agencies tasked with preventing financial wrongdoing and labor law abuses have seen particularly severe cutbacks.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://sincensura.com.ar/2016/07/12/puesto-menor-designa-a-una-directora-general-de-discurso-por-fuera-de-la-ley/&prev=search
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Macri's "neck blower" in action. Plenty of room in his "austerity" budget for them.

Argentina's Macri said by officials to have opted out of running for reelection in 2019.

Ricardo Kirschbaum, the longtime editor-in-chief of Argentina's largest newspaper, Clarín, revealed in this morning's op-ed that officials in President Mauricio Macri's inner circle disclosed to him that the president has decided not to seek reelection in 2019.

According to Kirschbaum, President Macri arrived at this decision in large part as a result of a heart condition that has appeared to have worsened since taking office seven months ago. The decision was made after consulting his team of doctors and his wife, Juliana Awada, whose concerns over her husband's health made her particularly supportive of this decision.

Administration officials admitted to Kirschbaum that Macri "finds it difficult to deal with the daily tension his job entails," and that he and his family "have given much thought recently to the need for a change in lifestyle, one outside politics. Macri, officials said, explained to his inner circle that "besides politics, I have a life."

The Argentine president's health made headlines on June 3, when he was hospitalized for several hours after suffering from cardiac arrhythmia while resting in the Olivos presidential residence. Since then, his presidential medical team, led by Drs. Simón Salzberg and Andrés Atamañuk, has added six more physicians.

Possible nominees

The news led to immediate speculation as to who Macri intends to back as the nominee for his "Let's Change" coalition in 2019. The right-wing PRO party, which he leads, favors fielding the Governor of Buenos Aires Province, María Eugenia Vidal; Macri, however, reportedly prefers his Chief of Staff, Marcos Peña.

The soft-spoken Peña, 39, is especially close to the president and enjoys a good relationship with the media. He grew up in Potomac, Maryland, and would thus be well positioned to enhance U.S.-Argentine relations - a key priority for Macri.

Vidal, 42, maintains high approval ratings as governor of the nation's most populous province (home to 38% of Argentines). She has come under fire, however, for ordering protesters violently dispersed, as well as for scandals surrounding a number of her high-profile appointments.

These include Justice Minister Carlos Mahiques, who opposes abortion rights even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life; the director of the Port of la Plata, José María Dodds, who faces allegations of asset stripping at a leading food processing firm as well as charges of domestic violence; and the head of the Provincial Police, Pablo Bressi, who was accused by Congresswoman Elisa Carrió (a key Macri ally) of receiving payoffs from convicted drug trafficker "Mameluco" Villalba while Bressi headed a drug enforcement agency in a Buenos Aires metro area county.

While Peña is known as a moderate within the PRO, moreover, Vidal - like her appointees Mahiques and Dodds - belongs to the far-right Roman Catholic power group Opus Dei. The Opus Dei fell into disrepute in Argentina due to their leading roles in the Onganía and Videla dictatorships, as well as in the freewheeling Menem administration.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201607/15213-para-clarin-macri-no-buscaria-la-reeleccion-en-2019.html&prev=search

Argentine court rolls back Macri's 300-1000% gas utility hikes nationwide.

The Macri administration’s austerity program was thrown into turmoil yesterday after a federal appeals court in La Plata ordered that the recent drastic increases on natural gas rates imposed by the administration be retracted nationwide to rates prevailing on March 31, before the initial rate hike of around 300% was approved by Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren.

In their decision, Judges César Álvarez, Olga Calitri and Leopoldo Schiffrin declared “null and void” Energy Ministry resolutions which authorized the increase, concluding that no public hearings were held before the hike was implemented. They added that the “unreasonability” of the hikes - which in many cases have reached 1000% - should also be considered.

Aranguren is facing separate charges of using his public office for personal benefit by way of these rate hikes and of a $100 million contract signed with a Chilean subsidiary of Shell Argentina (in which he served as CEO for 12 years and still holds millions in stock).

The ruling by the La Plata Federal Appeals Court was issued the same day that courts in Río Negro, Neuquén, and Salta ordered freezes on all increases for three months in their respective provinces. The Energy Ministry announced that a per saltum request will be filed this Tuesday in front of the Argentine Supreme Court, thus bypassing the normal appeals court process in their push to reinstate the rate hikes.

The request to freeze rates had been filed by a group of consumer advocacy associations, including the Argentine Consumers association; the CEPIS public interest center; and the Association for the Defence, Education, and Information for Consumers. These institutions had already obtained a favorable initial ruling, which had agreed on the need for a hearing but not on the request to retract the rate hikes.

The associations considered that the “constitutional right of citizens participation” had been violated by the lack of public hearings. Aranguren claimed that no hearing was needed as one had already been held in 2006, when the rates were going to be increased but ultimately were not. The magistrates, as expected, said that previous public hearings can’t be considered valid as they were carried out under different circumstances.

The court decision was welcomed by provincial lawmakers from the opposition Victory Front (FpV), who had previously backed the filing. “The national government can’t take these decisions without talking to the people. If the rates have to be adjusted, it has to be done constitutionally and by discussing the parameters at a public hearing,” local lawmaker Juan Manuel Cheppi said.

The increase on natural gas rates was announced by the Macri administration in April, followed by hikes on electricity, municipal water consumption and bus, train and subway rates. With the move, the Energy Ministry claimed to be saving up to $4 billion this year on subsidies to natural gas production and consumption. Last year, however, total natural gas subsidies reached $2.2 billion: $1.7 billion for production and $478 million for imports by state-owned distributor Enarsa.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/217646/court-rolls-back-gas-hikes-nationwide

Pope Francis sends his native Argentina a message on its Bicentennial.

Pope Francis sent a message to Argentina’s bishops on the occasion of his native land's Bicentennial. Argentina declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816.

Francis' message is as follows:

Dear brothers:

On the eve of the celebrations of the Bicentennial of independence, I wish to send my cordial greetings to you my brother-bishops, to the national authorities, and to all the Argentine people. I want these celebrations to make us stronger following the path taken by our elders 200 years ago. With these greetings I wish to express to all Argentines my proximity and the assurance that I will pray for you.

In a special way I want to be close to those who suffer the most — the sick, the destitute, the prisoners, the lonely, the jobless and all in want, the victims of human-trafficking, abused children, and so many young people trapped by the scourge of drugs. They all carry a heavy weight and are often at the very limit. They are the most blistered children of our motherland.

Yes, children of the motherland. In school we were taught to speak of the motherland, to love the motherland. This has its roots precisely in the patriotic sense of belonging — in our love of the motherland. We Argentines use an expression, at once bold and picturesque, when we refer to unscrupulous people: “he’d sell his own mother”; but we know and feel deeply in our hearts that mothers are not for sale, that they cannot be sold — and neither can the motherland.

We are celebrating 200 years along the road which, in its desire for brotherhood, projects itself beyond the boundaries of this country towards the Greater Fatherland of which José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar dreamed. This reality unites us in a family of broad horizons and fraternal loyalty. That Greater Fatherland should also be included in our prayers during our celebrations — may the Lord look after it, making it stronger and more beautiful, defending it from every kind of colonization.

These 200 years call upon us to keep treading that path, looking forward. In order to achieve that, I think especially of the old and the young - and feel the need to call upon them to help continue travelling towards our destiny. Addressing the elderly, those with memories of our history, I would ask them to rise above this “disposable culture” which is being imposed on us worldwide and dare to dream. We need their dreams, a source of inspiration.

Addressing youth, I would ask them not to mortgage their existence by becoming premature pensioners in some passive bureaucratic job in which they would be cornered by so many proposals lacking illusion or heroism. I am convinced that our homeland needs to fulfill the prophesy of Joel (1st chapter. 4th verse) — only if our grandparents dare to dream and our youths to prophesy great things can our homeland be free. We need grandfathers with dreams which drive the young, and young people running forward in this spirit.

Dear brothers, I ask God, our father and lord, to bless our homeland and all of us, extending my prayers to the Virgin of Luján who, as a mother, takes care of us along the way. And please do not forget to pray for me.

Vatican City
Pope Francis


At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/217727/pope-francis%E2%80%99-july-9-message
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“He’d sell his own mother” is a thinly-veiled reference to the current neocon president, Macri, and of policies which have already transferred $20 billion in wealth to the top while imposing widespread hardship.

Pope Francis no doubt wishes the Bicentennial could have taken place in happier circumstances.

Argentina celebrates Bicentennial amid repression and recession.

Argentina today celebrates 200 years since the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, under the Directorate led by members of the Lautaro Masonic lodge, declared independence from Spain.

President Mauricio Macri is scheduled to lead the official Bicentennial ceremony in the northwestern city of San Miguel de Tucumán, where independence was signed.

Macri has come under fire, however, for refusing to invite any of the six living constitutional former presidents while instead inviting the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos. His Finance Minister, Alfonso Prat-Gay, created a similar controversy last month by publicly apologizing to a meeting of Spanish CEOs in Madrid - including some whose companies had nearly bankrupted a number of privatized Argentine firms a decade earlier.

The ceremony itself has also become a point of contention in what should have been a festive day. Tucumán's Independence Square will, unlike previous Independence Day celebrations, be cordoned off with barriers and a detachment of Gendarmes (military police), who were ordered to strip the square's many orange trees of any oranges for fear they be hurled against Macri himself.

Such an incident took place in 1996 against far-right Governor Antonio Bussi, whose spending cuts caused widespread hardship in Tucumán (one of the country's poorest provinces); Bussi's son, Ricardo, endorsed Macri last year.

As in Bussi's case, much of the discontent facing Macri has to do with a severe recession caused by austerity policies enacted since he took office seven months ago - often by decree. These include a 40% devaluation in one day, as well as subsidy cuts that have more than doubled public transport fares and raised utility rates by over 300%.

These policies - which contradict reiterated campaign promises - have earned Macri plaudits from the IMF, the U.S. Ambassador, and local right-wingers such as former Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo (whose fire-sale privatizations and reliance on fickle speculative capital led to massive unemployment, foreign debt, and ultimately the 2001 collapse).

They have also triggered the deepest recession since 2002, including a collapse in construction activity and consumer sentiment, a 10% fall in real retail sales, 5 million more in poverty, a wave of small-business bankruptcies, an estimated 167,000 jobs lost, and an inflation rate of 45% - the highest in a generation - with little to show by way of foreign investment or local business investment (both of which are down). Banking profits are up by 80% (in peso terms); but according to the CAME business chamber, 60% of medium businesses are now in the red.

The Macri administration, meanwhile, has responded by using allied governors and judges to persecute the opposition - particularly those associated with his populist predecessor, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The few media outfits opposed to Macri find themselves in dire straits. Critical journalists have been sacked, and opposition newspapers, radio stations, and political offices attacked with perpetrators often evading arrest (one is known to be in the U.S.). The largest media conglomerate, the Clarín Group, has now been given a green light to pursue its goal of near-monopoly control over the nation's media and communications services, so it’s no surprise that such attacks and bomb threats against human rights organizations have gone almost unnoticed. Demonstrations against the government have likewise been ignored, as have massive layoffs.

Corporate media thus protects Macri in conjunction with sectors of the judiciary who, under the banner of denouncing “corruption,” seek to intimidate and, if possible, imprison members of the opposition while slow-pedaling cases related to the Panama Papers and other corruption scandals affecting the Macri administration. Some, like the 2014 Iron Mountain warehouse fire that destroyed thousands of bank files and killed 10 first responders, date from Macri's tenure as mayor of Buenos Aires.

The head of the Federal Anti-Corruption Office, Laura Alonso, is a hard-line Macri loyalist who acts as a spokesperson of the very administration she's tasked with monitoring, while Judge Claudio Bonadío – a close Macri ally with numerous past charges against him of his own, including murder – has repeatedly summoned Mrs. Kirchner to testify in a case stemming from $4 billion in Central Bank losses caused by Macri's own devaluation.

The case became a liability for Macri once records emerged showing that his family and many in his administration profited from these same dollar futures.

The judiciary’s pursuit of Mrs. Kirchner should be viewed within a broader pattern, most notably the arrest without charges - and ongoing imprisonment for six months with no proof - of indigenous activist Milagro Sala in Jujuy Province, where even her defense lawyer has been threatened with legal action. These judges, serving the interests of ruling politicians and the media, appear to share a common goal: to see opposition leaders behind bars.

The UN Committee for Human Rights has announced that a fact-finding mission will arrive this month in Argentina, and that they intend to question Macri officials over deteriorating political and human rights conditions. Among them will be Justice Minister Germán Garavano, was was reveled to have held secret talks in April with Argentina's leading Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando, over the possibility of freeing some of the over 600 officers convicted during the Kirchner era of human rights abuses in the 1970s.

History tends to repeat itself. It's worth noting that at the time of Argentina's Centennial in 1916, World War I had given the agro-exporting elite record profits; but had also led to a 10% drop in GDP, a two-thirds jump in prices, a one-third fall in real wages, a doubling of unemployment to 20%, and increasingly violent efforts by the elite - with tacit state approval - to repress discontent by way of paramilitary gangs like the Patriotic League.

The Argentine Bicentennial thus takes place under the shadow of many of the same obstacles that have faced the country throughout its history.

The poorest of Spain's colonies 200 years ago due to its remoteness and lack of precious metals, Argentina has achieved a number of meaningful accomplishments for its 43 million people - notably the region's highest human development index, median pay, minimum wage, and pensions. Its culture, politics, and press have endured numerous dictatorships to emerge as some of the region's freest and most dynamic.

Its history and current events alike attest to the importance of keeping Argentina a work in progress.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.tiempoar.com.ar/articulo/view/57675/el-segundo-semestre-llego-con-recesion-caida-del-consumo-e-inflacion-record&prev=search

And: https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/observatorio-argentino/offshore-democracy-or-argentina-through-looking-glass
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[center]

An orange tree for Argentina - and plenty of oranges for Macri.[/center]

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner visits Tiempo Argentino newsroom after attack.

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner visited the Tiempo Argentino newsroom yesterday, two days after a violent attack by a group of sixteen armed men on the newspaper left two workers injured and drew scathing criticism from human rights groups across the country.

The former head of state was guided through the building, located in Buenos Aires and home to both the newspaper and Radio América, by Más Tiempo cooperative president Javier Borelli and the news director of the newspaper, Gustavo Cirelli, who along with the workers have kept the publication running as a cooperative.

Mrs. Kirchner inspected the wreckage in the newsroom following her stop at the Comodoro Py Courthouse yesterday afternoon on yet another of an ongoing series of summons by Judge Claudio Bonadío, a close ally of right-wing President Mauricio Macri. She said that she had not witnessed such an act since before the fall of the last military dictatorship in 1983.

“I have not seen an attack of this type against a media outlet since the restoration of democracy. I do not remember anything like this during a democratic administration since 1974 or 1975, prior to the military dictatorship,” she said referring to the often deadly Argentine Anticommunist Alliance attacks that took place at the time with the tacit approval of then-President Isabel Perón.

The former president condemned police action following the raid, denouncing their “protection of a gang that is still free because of the police,” a reference to the failure of the federal police officers called to the newsroom on Monday to arrest any of the perpetrators. She called for “strong legal action from the workers and their lawyers before prosecutors and judges” in the hope of seeking justice against those who carried out the attack.

Buenos Aires Prosecutor Verónica Andrade has arraigned the attackers and their ringleader, businessman Mariano Martínez Rojas, on seven charges including destruction of property and aggravated assault, and has ordered that police custody be provided for the newspaper office.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/217574/expresident-visits-tiempo-argentino-newsroom-after-attack

Clashes in Santiago as police block Chilean student march.

Chilean police yesterday fired water cannons and tear gas at hundreds of protesting university students as they attempted to march on the Ministry of Education to protest proposed education reform measures.

The students, organized by the Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH), met at multiple points around downtown Santiago in the morning and began marching toward the ministry, located next to the government palace. “On the same path of changing education, lies the revolution,” “Stopping the reforms of the neoliberal state,” read some of the signs carried by the protesters. But after peacefully walking a few blocks they were intercepted by riot police and dispersed with tear gas.

The mayor of Santiago had earlier refused permission for the march.

Police did not provide figures of detainees. A journalist from state television reported the arrest of cameraman Gonzalo Carvajal “with absolutely no provocation” and said “they beat him, the camera must have been destroyed, they put him in the police van and took him away.”

Students also marched in Valparaíso, Temuco, Valdivia, and Concepción.

Demands, doubts

The students reject the country’s long-awaited education reform bill, delivered to Congress on Monday following at least nine delays, while also demanding the resignation of Education Minister Adriana Delpiano.

The reform was the principal campaign promise of President Michelle Bachelet. However, the fall in international copper prices, Chile’s main export, has tied up the proposed reforms over cost concerns. Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdés, said universally free access to higher education would call for additional annual state investment of nearly $4 billion.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/217498/clashes-as-police-block-chilean-student-march
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