“The history of CELS”:a failed narrative
[a reply from the Mignone Family — ]
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
The history of CELS: a failed narrativeBy I. Mignone, M. Mignone & J. MignoneLast Sunday, the Herald ran an interview with journalist Santiago O’Donnell, author of Derechos Humanos®, a book that tells the story of the CELS human rights organization and its founders, including Emilio Mignone. Below is a reply from his family:The Sudamericana-Random publishing house recently released the book Human Rights, The History of CELS, from Mignone to Verbitsky, from Videla to Cristina, written by journalists Santiago O’Donnell and Mariano Melamed. The Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), like any other institution, should be analyzed critically. But one would hope that a task of such importance for our society would meet those same standards. Unfortunately, this book represents such a low quality of journalism that it undermines its validity.The writers of this opinion piece have been witness to several key incidents that the authors narrate. In sections of the book that retell several events where we were direct witnesses or were present, we discovered no less than 50 errors. If this were to be extrapolated to the rest of the book — something that we can’t know for certain but consider probable — it makes the credibility of this simplistic narration of events highly doubtful.To demonstrate this, we focus on two incidents that the authors narrate that simply did not occur, and are used to indirectly support the book’s premise. They are incidents that occurred on the dawn of May 14, 1976, when our sister Mónica Mignone was kidnapped by the Navy. The authors first state that during the sting operation, Mónica Mignone “suggested escaping through the back door.” And that after that our father, Emilio Mignone, stopped her and told her “to keep calm and don’t escape, I will fix this.” Two of the three signatories of this letter were present during the military operation, and not at any moment was an escape suggested nor were the statements reported expressed.Furthermore, Mignone’s testimonies were given under oath at the trial of the military Junta, where he gave the complete details about the military operation, and he did not at any time express something similar to what the authors state.It’s not clear why the authors wrote these fallacies, and it’s pointless to try to understand their underlying intentions. However, if we must give an opinion about the final product, there are two possibilities. Either the authors aren’t serious journalists, or these errors are part of a narrative aimed at re-introducing the theory of the two demons, or both.We are surprised that this book was written with such little rigor, it is a text that constructs narratives from interview transcriptions, without corroborating with other testimonies or documentation. For example, many of the chapters appear to be fixed pastiches geared towards supporting the authors’ previously held premise, instead of using evidence to confirm or refute these premises. The authors ignore one of the basic criteria of professional journalism, which is using various sources to corroborate as best as possible the events they narrate. This is without mention of the little attempts at analysis which are so banal that they are embarrassing.Ironically, in our opinion, the book in general terms, leaves our father’s reputation intact. But that isn’t what is important. What is fundamental is that a book that narrates the history of CELS has a minimum amount of rigour.In particular we had hoped, like Mignone suggested days before his death to the person who would write his biography, that it be done with “independence of criteria, intellectual integrity, and depth.” Unfortunately this book about CELS lacks precisely these principles
Thursday, August 20, 2015
1. POPE FRANCIS HOLDS SIGN URGING FALKLAND ISLANDS DIALOGUE, CAUSES STIR IN ARGENTINA (The Washington Post)1. POPE FRANCIS HOLDS SIGN URGING FALKLAND ISLANDS DIALOGUE, CAUSES STIR IN ARGENTINA (The Washington Post)By Rosie ScammellAugust 20, 2015VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis was unwittingly thrust into the center of a long-running diplomatic dispute between Argentina and the U.K. after holding a sign calling for dialogue over the Falkland Islands.The Argentine pontiff was greeting pilgrims at the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall when he was photographed holding a Spanish-language sign reading: “It’s time for dialogue between Argentina and the UK about the Falklands.”The two countries fought a brief war in 1982 over the Falkland Islands, or Malvinas in Spanish, during which over 900 people were killed. Although the U.K. ultimately won the war, Argentina continues to claim sovereignty over the islands, which are off its southern coast.Francis’ inadvertent gesture of support for renewed talks between the two countries inevitably caused a stir in his home city, Buenos Aires, with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner posting the pope photograph on Twitter. So too did Argentina’s foreign ministry, writing: “Pope Francis receives the Argentina-UK pro-dialogue message.”But the Vatican played down the significance of the moment, saying the pope had no idea what was written on the sign. “The Holy Father did not even realize he had taken this object in his hands. He has discovered this just now after seeing the photograph,” the Vatican said in a statement.The U.K. foreign ministry was not immediately available to comment.By Mark P. JonesAugust 20, 2015All is not well in Argentina. The economy is stagnant, the fiscal deficit unsustainable and growing, foreign and domestic investment meager, inflation running at 30 percent, drug-related violence rising and the country remains an outcast in the international financial community.In the midst of this, on Aug. 9, Argentina started the nation’s three-step process of choosing its next president. Because of term limits, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will be stepping down on Dec. 10. She has been in office since 2007 after taking the reins from her husband, Néstor Kirchner, who was in office from 2003 to 2007, and then passed away in 2010. Under the Kirchners, Argentine foreign and domestic policy shifted to the left, with a significant deterioration in diplomatic relations with the United States and a dramatic increase in the government’s role in the Argentine economy.The Aug. 9 primaries weren’t like U.S. primaries. Everyone already knew the names of the nominees for the country’s three leading national alliances of political parties. Rather, the Argentine primaries matter because they are the best way to know the level of popular support for the leading presidential candidates. Trust in published opinion surveys in Argentina is low, both because some perceive political motivations behind their publication and because they have a less than stellar record in predicting recent elections.What’s more, Argentina’s primaries are mandatory (for parties/alliances), compulsory (for voters 18-69), national (one date in all provinces), internally uncompetitive and held merely 11 weeks before the general election—making them a good gauge of national sentiment.Argentina’s federal elections explained: process, parties, playersThe 2015 Argentine federal election process will have either two or three stages. First were the primaries on Aug. 9. Party alliances must have won at least 1.5 percent of the votes cast in this election to qualify their presidential candidate for the next ballot round.Next come presidential and congressional elections on Oct. 25. If necessary, the top two candidates will have a runoff on Nov. 22. That will become necessary if no presidential candidate receives more than 45 percent of the valid vote–or if no candidate receives at least 40 percent but has a margin of victory that’s more than 10 percent above that of the second-place candidate.Eleven political alliances participated in the Aug. 9 primary. Three had contested primaries, but only in one was there doubt about the victor in a single primary (that of the small Left Front). In Fernández de Kirchner’s Front for Victory (FPV) alliance, Daniel Scioli, governor of the province of Buenos Aires, was the sole candidate. In the centrist We Can Change alliance, the marquee candidate was City of Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri. In United for a New Alternative (UNA), the headliner was Sergio Massa, a national deputy from Buenos Aires province.Both Scioli and Massa belong to the country’s large and robust Peronist movement, which originated during the first presidency of Juan Domingo Perón (1946-55) and the brief but indelible political and social activism of his spouse, Evita Perón. Peronists occupy positions across the ideological spectrum from the center-left to the center-right, but share a common history linked to Perón and Evita, a support base anchored in the working class and poor, and a goal of obtaining and then maintaining political power by almost any means necessary. Scioli is a leading figure in the movement’s pro-Kirchner wing and Massa in its anti-Kirchner wing, with Scioli supportive and Massa critical of the current policies of President Fernández de Kirchner.Although We Can Change has some Peronist members, it primarily includes most of the non-Peronist opposition political forces in the country, including the Radical Civic Union (UCR), the country’s traditional counter-weight to Peronism, and Macri’s Federal Proposal (PRO).What did we learn from the primary?In the primary, the FPV finished first with 38.4 percent of the valid vote (less than expected), all won by Scioli.We Can Change placed second at 30.1 percent, with Macri contributing a lion’s share (24.3 percent) followed by candidates from two of the other alliance members: Ernesto Sanz of the UCR (3.5 percent) and Elisa Carrió of the Civic Coalition (2.3 percent).Rounding out the big three was UNA, which garnered a greater share than expected, 20.6 percent. Massa (14.2 percent) easily defeated Córdoba governor Jose Manuel de la Sota (6.4 percent).Three other alliances crossed the 1.5 percent minimum threshold required to earn a place for their candidate on the October ballot: Margarita Stolbizer (Progressives), Nicolás del Caño (Left Front), Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (Federal Commitment).In all, the mainstream opposition candidates garnered a combined 56.3 percent of the vote to Scioli’s 38.4 percent. Underscoring Peronism’s broad electoral appeal, across four separate alliances the five candidates who identify as Peronists (Scioli, Massa, De la Sota, Rodríguez Saá, Victor De Gennaro) garnered a combined total of 61.6 percent of the vote.
The results of the 2015 Argentine presidential primary election.
(Data: Dirección Nacional Electoral, Argentina; Table: Mark P. Jones)What is the frontrunner doing to win it all in the next round?Scioli’s most realistic hope of avoiding a runoff in October is to win a share of the vote that is at least 40 percent and is 10 percent more than that obtained by the first runner-up. On Aug. 9, he achieved neither of these goals.And yet Scioli still has a reasonable chance of a first round victory on Oct. 25, for two reasons. First, Scioli is expected to keep virtually all of his primary vote, and therefore needs a relatively modest boost to pass the 40 percent barrier and achieve a 10 percent gap between himself and the second place candidate. One viable option for getting there is to seek high-profile agreements with a handful of leading politicians. Another is for his delegates to craft thousands of minor informal agreements with UNA-aligned Peronists throughout the country.Most observers believe Scioli will pursue two high-profile agreements. The first is with De la Sota’s successor in Córdoba, governor-elect Juan Schiaretti. That would give Scioli a shot at taking votes away from UNA and its general election candidate, Massa, since nearly half De la Sota’s votes in the UNA primary came from the province of Córdoba. Córdoba is in rough economic shape. If Schiaretti concludes Massa does not have a realistic chance of making the runoff, he may strike a deal with Scioli, trading his endorsement and get-out-the-vote help from the state’s Peronist political machine in exchange for a pledge of financial aid for the province.The other possible high-profile deal would be between Scioli and Rodríguez Saá, who might drop out and back Scioli in exchange for financial support for the province of San Luis. Rodríguez Saá and his brother have ruled San Luis in a quasi-feudal manner since Argentina’s return to democracy in 1983.But below the national radar, Scioli’s operatives will be pursuing a myriad of other potential deals. Many Peronists value government posts and access to state and private resources and power above ideology, policy and personal ties. Scioli’s people will approach Massa’s backers, promising future government positions, contracts and resources in exchange for defection and support in October. These Peronists strongly prefer Massa to Scioli. But if by mid- to late-September they believe Massa will not be able to come within striking distance of Macri for a spot in the runoff, some are likely to switch their fealty to Scioli.Second, while the distance between the FPV and We Can Change was less than 10 percent, the vote gap between Scioli and Macri (14.1 percent) was greater than 10 percent. In October only Macri will be on the ballot, not Sanz and Carrió. Research by Ernesto Calvo and Andrés Malamud on Argentine provincial elections would lead us to expect not all primary votes cast for Sanz (in particular) and Carrió to automatically end up in Macri’s column in October.All that assumes, however, that Massa doesn’t gain momentum. If he begins to look like Scioli’s most likely rival in a runoff, Scioli would reap far fewer agreements and defections. And if We Can Change and UNA form an alliance—pulling together an accord on core public policies and inter-party consultation and support if either Macri or Massa wins—Scioli might also be in trouble. Such an agreement would attenuate, though not fully eliminate, shifts in UNA support to Scioli while also easing voters’ concerns that Macri, if elected, would be unable to govern due to the limited number of seats We Can Change will have in the Argentine Congress (less than a third in both houses), the small number of provinces (less than a quarter) where it will hold the governorship, and its limited ties with Argentina’s powerful Peronist union leaders.How will the result affect Argentina?In short, the primary told us what we already know: Daniel Scioli is the front-runner in the race to become the next president of Argentina. But at the same time, it reminds us that Scioli still has a lot of work ahead if he is to avoid a November runoff. That’s important for his chances. In a November runoff, voters who backed opposition candidates on Aug. 9 would outnumber those who cast a ballot for Scioli—and they wouldn’t be dividing their support among several candidates.Among the three candidates, Scioli proposes the most continuity with and least change from the policies of President Fernández de Kirchner and Macri the least continuity and most change, with Massa occupying an intermediate position between the two. As a result, the outcome of this fall’s (spring in Argentina) electoral process will have a profound impact on the extent to which Argentina adopts more market-friendly policies and endeavors to foster better relations with the United States during the remainder of the decade.Mark P. Jones is the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’s Political Science Fellow at Rice University.By Arturo C. Porzecanski, American UniversityAugust 20, 2015During the past dozen years, Argentina has been a destabilizing economic force within South America. While the governments of Néstor (2003-07) and Cristina Kirchner (2007-15) have not meddled in the internal affairs of other countries in the way that Venezuela did under the late Hugo Chávez, their highly populist and nationalistic policies have had adverse repercussions on Argentina’s neighbours.For example, a decade ago Argentina defaulted on a 1995 commitment to export natural gas to Chile, and did so in order to keep its domestic market amply supplied and thus at lower gas prices. As a result, Chile had to scramble to find alternative energy providers, and the country had to increase its dependence on then-expensive imported oil.Uruguay has been negatively affected ever since Argentina imposed currency controls in 2012, which have discouraged the arrival of Argentine tourists seeking to vacation in Punta del Este and other beach resorts. In order to entice Argentines to keep coming, the government exempted from VAT all spending by tourists, and granted a partial rebate on property rental expenses. These measures have had a fiscal cost, and yet tourist arrivals from Argentina have never fully recovered.Brazil has been hit in various ways. In early 2012, Argentina imposed an import control system requiring prior approval of nearly every purchase from abroad, a regime since found to be illegal by the World Trade Organization – but one which has not been dismantled.Relative to the peak import year of 2011, Argentine imports through mid-2015 have since dropped by over twenty percent, yet despite the preferential access provided by Mercosur, the supposedly free-trade area to which both countries belong, Brazil’s exports to Argentina have since collapsed by over forty per cent.Brazilian-owned banks and companies resident in Argentina have also suffered in recent years because of the country’s economic stagnation since 2011, the imposition of price controls on retailers since early 2013, the difficulty to obtain imported inputs, and a de facto prohibition on profit remittances to parent companies.By now capital controls have blocked many billions of dollars of intended remittances by multinational companies operating in Argentina. The Brazilian business community is angry that both exports to, and sales within, Argentina have taken such a turn for the worse, and it has been lobbying Brasília to get tough with Argentina.Brazil has also been thwarted by Argentina in its decade-long attempt to reach a free-trade deal with the European Community. Paraguay and Uruguay, the other Mercosur partners, have been willing to make the necessary trade-liberalising concessions, but Argentina has been recalcitrant, effectively vetoing any progress.This has caused enormous frustration in Brazil’s business community, which regards a trade deal with Europe as low-hanging fruit. This is why Renan Calheiros, the president of Brazil’s Senate, has recently proposed to Finance Minister Joaquim Levy that Brazil should move ahead in these negotiations on its own.Moreover, Brazil has expended substantial political capital defending Argentina’s rogue behaviour in various multilateral venues. At the IMF, for instance, Brazil’s representative has had to work overtime in recent years to build a coalition of emerging countries supportive of minimal sanctions on Argentina for its persistent violations of Articles IV and VIII of the Fund’s Articles of Agreement.These spell out that member countries are obligated to allow for Fund surveillance over their exchange-rate and related policies, and to submit accurate economic data to enable the Fund to carry out its duties. As a result, Brazil has come to be perceived as tolerant of rule-breaking attitudes.Given the recent downward spiral in investor and rating-agency confidence in Brazil – a plunging currency, widening bond spreads, stubborn inflation expectations, and the threat of a downgrade to “junk” status – it would be to the advantage of the embattled government in Brasília to encourage the front-runners for the presidency in Argentina (Daniel Scioli and Mauricio Macri) to signal that they will behave in a sensible and constructive manner once one of them is voted into office in October and takes charge in December.The quickest potential win for Argentina and its neighbours would be for the new government in Buenos Aires to open negotiations, and reach a settlement, with all of its defaulted creditors – the ones who have won court judgments as well as those who have sought justice in arbitral tribunals like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).Reaching such a settlement would enable the new administration to regain access to the international capital markets and to stop relying on the central bank of Argentina for pesos to finance the budget deficit and for dollars to make debt-service payments. The former has been feeding inflation and the latter has been undermining the country’s international reserves.The private sector in Argentina, including multinationals operating there, would also benefit greatly from a normalisation of financial relations. Banks and companies would again be able to obtain credit and sell shares abroad, and the resulting capital inflows would pave the way for the new government to abolish the tangled web of controls on imports, remittances, and other transactions involving foreign exchange. Such a sensible liberalisation, in turn, would greatly deflate most of the tensions between Argentina and its neighbours – especially vis-à-vis Brazil.Justified optimism on the emergence of a new, business-friendly Argentina would also have the potential to improve investor attitudes toward Brazil. Of course, said attitudes are largely dependent on what happens inside of Brazil in the months to come, but it is not inconceivable that good news coming out of Argentina could rub off on sentiment about Brazil. Contagion effects are not always negative.Professor Arturo Porzecanski is director of the International Economic Relations Programme at American University, Washington DC. From 2000 to 2005, he was head of emerging markets sovereign research at ABN Amro.August 20, 2015BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Pope Francis raised eyebrows in his homeland of Argentina on Wednesday after being photographed in Rome holding a sign advocating for dialogue over the disputed Falkland Islands.After his general audience appearance Wednesday, several news agencies shot pictures of Francis holding a sign that read: “It’s time for dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands.”However, Francis apparently was not purposely wading into the dispute. Father Tom Rosica, special assistant to the Director of the Holy See Press Office, released a statement saying that the “poster was handed to the Pope and he had no idea what the item was.”“The Holy Father did not even realize he had this object in his hands,” the statement said. “He has discovered this just now after seeing the photograph.”While archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Rev. Jorge Bergoglio, as he was known then, sometimes spoke in nationalistic terms about the islands. Since becoming pope in 2013, however, Francis has refrained from talking about the dispute.Soon after the photo began to show up on local websites, Argentina’s foreign ministry tweeted that the pope “had received a pro-dialogue message” for Argentina and Britain.Argentine President Cristina Fernandez also tweeted a few of the photos to her nearly 4 million followers with the hashtag #MalvinasArgentinas, referring to the islands’ Spanish name.#MalvinasArgentinas @Pontifex_es pic.twitter.com/vxewfUd1rS— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) August 19, 2015In 2013, Fernandez formally asked the pope to intervene in the dispute, though he never has.The Argentine army seized the islands in 1982 only to be defeated by a British force, but Argentina still claims sovereignty over the South Atlantic territory.The issue always strikes a nerve in this country of 41 million people. But Britain has repeatedly said the question of sovereignty has been decided. In a 2013 referendum, the vast majority (99%) of Falkland residents voted to remain a British territory. According to a 2012 census, the islands have a population of about 2,563 people.By Charlie DevereuxAugust 20, 2015Argentina’s black market peso fell to its lowest in 10 months on expectations that a new government in December will have to devalue the official rate which is strictly controlled by the central bank.The street value of the peso weakened 0.98 percent to 15.3 pesos per dollar, according to Ambito. That compares with an official exchange rate of 9.25.While the majority of emerging market countries from China to Brazil are weakening their exchange rates to remain competitive, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s administration is refusing to accelerate the pace of depreciation of the peso ahead of Oct. 25 elections where the front-runner is from her party. The next government, which takes over Dec. 10, will have to address the overvalued exchange rate, according to Fausto Spotorno, chief economist at Orlando Ferreres & Asociados.“There’s a significant expectation of devaluation,” Spotorno said by phone from Buenos Aires. “The next government will have to adjust the exchange rate and that will probably have a negative impact on inflation.”Central Bank President Alejandro Vanoli, who took over in October to stem a drop in reserves and arrest the sinking of the peso in the black market from a record 15.95, insists the currency is not overvalued.While Vanoli managed to increase gross reserves by tapping $8 billion of yuan from a China swap agreement and by adding foreign currency from grain exports, the harvest season is now ending and there will be fewer dollars, said Maximiliano Castillo, director of Buenos Aires-based economic consultancy ACM.The government, which is locked out of international capital markets due to a legal battle with hedge funds seeking payment on defaulted bonds, faces a $6.3 billion debt payment on Oct. 3. That’s currently about 19 percent of reserves.Since devaluing the official peso rate 20 percent in January 2014, the government has let the currency weaken just 13 percent compared with a tumble of 29 percent for Brazil, its largest trading partner.As recently as April, the peso in the black market traded at 12.38 pesos per dollar. Due to restrictions imposed in 2011, Argentines turn to the street market to obtain foreign currency when the government doesn’t give them authorization to buy at the official rate.“The surprise for me was that the government was able to maintain exchange rate stability until June,” Castillo said. “I don’t believe the conditions are there for the gap to be reduced. On the contrary, the conditions are there for the gap to widen.”By Sarah Marsh and Nicolás Misculin20 August 2015BUENOS AIRES, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said on Thursday she was sending a draft law to Congress making it harder for the government to sell state stakes in local firms, two months before elections seen bringing a more market-friendly leader to power.With Fernandez barred from a third consecutive term, the two main candidates are her ruling party’s Daniel Scioli and the PRO opposition party’s Mauricio Macri. Both are expected to move away from her interventionist policies, to varying degrees.The new law would create an agency to administer the state’s stakes in companies as diverse as regional banks and media conglomerate Clarin. It would require the governments to get two-thirds approval in congress if it wanted to sell a stake.“It is very important that this .. is a guarantee so no one else can frivolously dispose of Argentines’ patrimony,” Fernandez said in a broadcast speech.“We are not preventing them being sold, but they should only be sold after a debate.”Fernandez has expropriated several companies over the years, including a water company, the oil company YPF and the country’s biggest airline, Aerolineas Argentinas. The state also acquired a number of stakes in companies when it nationalized its private pension system.This policy which scared off international investors was popular at home. Many Argentines fear that if Macri won October’s elections, he could return them to the neoliberal policies and privatizations of the 1990s.Macri, the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires city, is campaigning on a mandate to unwind state controls on the currency and trade that critics blame for stunted investment and stalled growth in Latin America’s No. 3 economy.Scioli has promised more gradual change than Macri.Fernandez used the example of recent privatizations in Greece under the terms of its international bailouts to illustrate the need for the law. The crisis in Greece has prompted political turmoil, pushing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to resign earlier on Thursday.“Tsipras is gone while Germany is left with 14 Greek airports because the process of privatization has started,” she said, making a jab at Germany which has been more insistent on the bailout terms than other creditors.Greece confirmed earlier this week it would award concessions to run 14 regional airports to Germany’s Fraport as part of its bailout terms.“This scenario is repeated tragically and terribly everywhere,” she said. “We will send this law to congress precisely because we do not want this to happen in Argentina.”22 August 2015Latin American women are making great strides. The culture is not keeping up“CRISTINA’S pleasure” blared the cover of a 2012 edition of Noticias, a tabloid news magazine in Argentina. A caricature of the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, seemed to show her in mid-orgasm, her head thrown back, her mouth open. “Every day she seems more confident, sensual and even shameless,” the story went on. For further enlightenment, readers were invited to watch an animated video online of the president masturbating.Good taste is not how tabloids sell copies in any country, but it is hard to imagine a British red top describing a female politician quite so crudely. The treatment of Ms Fernández in Noticias points to a Latin American paradox. Women have made great progress towards equality with men, especially in schools, workplaces and politics. But social attitudes have changed more slowly. Women’s ambitions are often belittled; hostility towards them is common. Raw statistics tell a story of female advancement; machista culture has yet to catch up.In the past quarter-century, the proportion of women in the workforce has risen more in Latin America than in any other region (see chart 1). True, they typically hold jobs that require little skill and pay low salaries: domestic work is the largest source of female employment. But women now spend more years in school than men, which suggests that their prospects will improve. A handful have climbed to the top of the corporate ladder. Women lead Rede Energia, one of Brazil’s biggest electricity companies, and B2W, its biggest online retailer. Isela Costantini runs General Motors’ operations in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.Women are still scarce in Latin American boardrooms (see chart 2). Not in politics, however. A quarter of legislators in the region are women, compared with one in seven in 2003. Several countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, have adopted quotas for women on parties’ lists of candidates. In the past decade, voters have elected women to the presidencies of Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica as well as Argentina, where Ms Fernández succeeded her husband, Néstor Kirchner, who later died.Yet Latin Americans are less likely than people in any other region to say that women are treated with dignity. Only a third say women are respected, around half the share who think so in the Middle East and Africa, according to a Gallup poll. In Peru and Colombia (where corporate bosses are more likely to be female than in any other Latin American country), just a fifth of people say women are appreciated.The higher expectations of Latin American women may explain part of the difference with other regions. They are more educated than African and Middle Eastern women, and so are probably angrier about inequality. But it may also be that their success is provoking a backlash. Men have a “misconception that the pie is only so big”, says Louise Goeser, chief executive of Siemens Mesoamérica, a big engineering firm. They think that if they “give pieces away, there’ll be less for them.”In 2009 48% of Latin Americans thought that women who earn higher salaries than men “would have problems”, according to Latinobarómetro, a polling group. That was up from 36% five years before. The share of people saying “men make better political leaders” and “a woman’s place is in the home” also rose slightly. The survey was conducted while Ms Fernández and Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president, were serving their first terms. Electing women to high office is apparently no cure for sexism.Mucho machismoIt can be found anywhere. In Latin America it feeds off a culture of machismo, a chest-thumping sort of masculinity that can either smother women in domesticity or degrade them. Successful women brim with tales of the insensitivity and cluelessness they encounter. Ms Goeser says that for years invitations to conferences came addressed to “Señor Goeser”. The boss of a Brazilian multinational recalls that earlier in her career higher-ups would ignore her at meetings until conversation turned to the cosmetics industry. Alil Álvarez Alcalá, a Mexican lawyer, worked at a firm for ten years before she plucked up the nerve to ask to be made a partner. Her boss looked befuddled and asked, “Is your husband’s job not going well?” She quit soon after and formed her own firm.Working women bear the “double burden” of housework: on average, they do two to five times as much of it as their lazier mates. Even the most assertive women find themselves going along with convention. Hinde Pomeraniec, an Argentine journalist who co-founded Ni Una Menos (Not One Less Girl), an anti-violence movement, catches herself asking her daughter to help clear the table and clean the house before asking her sons.Institutions reinforce such habits. Boys play football in after-school programmes; most girls go home. That matters. Girls who play sports get better grades and hold better jobs as adults than those who do not, according to a study by Barbara Kotschwar of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.Machismo can terrify as well as discourage. “It’s hot here, but wearing a skirt or dress is asking for trouble,” says Nelsy Gutierrez, a middle-school teacher in El Salvador. Young women who venture out in cities on foot can expect a chorus of lip-smacking and shouts of “ay–how delicious” from motorists and construction workers. The problem is so widespread that legislatures in Argentina, Chile, Panama and Peru have passed or at least debated laws to ban catcalling.The unruliest men kill and injure women as well as each other. Three-quarters of countries with “very high” murder rates for women are in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Small Arms Survey carried out by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. El Salvador has the world’s highest “femicide” rate, of 14 per 100,000 women. In Bolivia 52% of married or formerly married women say they have been physically or sexually abused by their partners. In Colombia and Peru that rate was a hardly comforting 39%.Few feministsThe flip side of machismo is a traditional notion of femininity, which many Latin women embrace. At 15 girls are swathed in silk for lavish quinceañera parties. Of the past ten women who have been crowned Miss Universe, six have come from Latin America (including Puerto Rico). Even politicians play up their girlishness. Ms Fernández talks often of her love of clothes. “I was born made up,” she once said.Many women think femininity is at odds with a belief in women’s equality, though it need not be. Feminism is thus a marginal creed in Latin America. Even female leaders less coquettish than Ms Fernández are reluctant to declare themselves to be feminists, for fear of being branded man-haters. That may be one reason why they have done less for women than many feminists had hoped.Ms Bachelet, who was head of UN Women after her first term as president, has tried harder than the others. Her government recently created a women’s ministry and introduced a law that would decriminalise some abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (Abortion is illegal in most cases in 18 out of 21 Latin countries.)By contrast Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, has introduced fewer pro-women laws than her (male) predecessor. Ms Fernández has been a bust, say feminists. Male politicians seem to have an easier time espousing policies they approve of. Uruguay passed one of the region’s most liberal abortion laws in 2012, under the administration of José Mujica.There are signs, though, that attitudes may at last be starting to change. In Ecuador, young men who call themselves the Cascos Rosa (Pink Helmets) lead workshops in schools to encourage respect for women and girls. In Argentina, Varones Antipatriarcales (Anti-patriarchal Men) rally against violence (and for legal abortion). In June this year, hundreds of thousands of people in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay joined a day of protest against violence against women organised by Ms Pomeraniec and other Argentine journalists.Governments are starting to do a better job of fighting violence and promoting women’s equality at work. At least 13 countries have established specialised police stations to encourage women to report assaults. This year Brazil enacted a law that stiffens punishments for men who murder their wives or girlfriends. Chile extended paid maternity leave in 2011 (under a male president) and Colombia’s Congress is considering a similar measure.Businesses are beginning to improve conditions for working women. In a survey conducted by McKinsey, a consultancy, 37% of firms said gender diversity was a top priority in 2013, up from 21% in 2010. All this is encouraging. But it may be a while before Latin America’s culture catches up with the achievements of its women.By Charles Newbery20 August 2015Buenos Aires (Platts)–20Aug2015/1106 am EDT/1506 GMT Argentina’s gasoline prices have shot up between 8.5% and 10% this year, even as global oil prices have declined, a report showed.Claudio Lozano, an opposition congressman, published the report late Wednesday, days after state-run YPF and other fuel retailers made the latest increase of 2.5% in pump prices.Lozano said the steady hikes have pushed up gasoline prices 109% since June 2014, even as international oil prices have dropped around 45% to $45/b over the same period.After years of keeping caps on energy prices, the national government late last year fixed light crude prices at $77/b despite the volatility on global markets. The aim was to spur investment in developing maturing fields and shale resources, a key to rebuilding production after more than a decade of decline, government officials said at the time.Oil production has started to recover. After dropping by 37% to a low of 532,000 b/d in 2014 from 843,000 b/d in 1998, it inched back to an average of 533,000 b/d in the first half, according to the Argentine Oil and Gas Institute, an industry group.Analysts say that high pump prices are key for YPF to finance investments in shale developments, where it has increased production to 43,000 b/d of oil equivalent since starting in 2012.YPF has a 55% share of gasoline sales, and its main competitors are Shell, Axion Energy, Oil Combustibles and Petrobras.Lozano said the impact of the national energy policy is higher pump prices for motorists at a time when inflation is running at 30% annually. According to GlobalPetrolPrices.com, Argentina now ranks second in Latin America for the highest gasoline prices at $1.34/liter. It trails Uruguay at $1.48/liter.