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Extraño duelo: Presidente Macri vs ex Presidenta CFK

3 enero, 2016

Islamic State (ISIS) Pamphlet On Female Slaves

3 enero, 2016

Islamic State (ISIS) Pamphlet On Female Slaves
Henry Whitney
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Pamphlet issued by Isis on the treatment of women (and young girls) captured by Isis.

Henry Whitney
Tel 54-11-4795-4092

Islamic State (ISIS) Releases Pamphlet On Female Slaves
December 4, 2014
The Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State (ISIS) has released a pamphlet on the topic of female captives and slaves. The pamphlet, which is dated Muharram 1436 (October/November 2014) and was printed by ISIS’s publishing house, Al-Himma Library, is titled Su’al wa-Jawab fi al-Sabi wa-Riqab(“Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves”). It was presumably released in response to the uproar caused by the many reports this summer that ISIS had taken Yazidi girls and women as sex slaves. Written in the form of questions and answers, it clarifies the position of Islamic law (as ISIS interprets it) on various relevant issues, and states, among other things, that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with non-Muslim slaves, including young girls, and that it is also permitted to beat them and trade in them.
The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
The following are excerpts from the pamphlet, which was posted on a pro-ISIS Twitter account.[1]

“Question 1: What is al-sabi?
“Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.
“Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?
“What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us].”
“Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?
“There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as thekitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean towards accepting the consensus…”
“Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?
“It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: ‘[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6]’…”

“Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?
“If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, is she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]…”
“Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?
“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage.”
“Question 7: Is it permissible to separate a mother from her children through [the act of] buying and selling?
“It is not permissible to separate a mother from her prepubescent children through buying, selling or giving away [a captive or slave]. [But] it is permissible to separate them if the children are grown and mature.”
“Question 8: If two or more [men] buy a female captive together, does she then become [sexually] permissible to each of them?
“It is forbidden to have intercourse with a female captive if [the master] does not own her exclusively. One who owns [a captive] in partnership [with others] may not have sexual intercourse with her until the other [owners] sell or give him [their share].”
“Question 9: If the female captive was impregnated by her owner, can he then sell her?
“He can’t sell her if she becomes the mother of a child…”
“Question 10: If a man dies, what is the law regarding the female captive he owned?
“Female captives are distributed as part of his estate, just as all [other parts] of his estate [are distributed]. However, they may only provide services, not intercourse, if a father or [one of the] sons has already had intercourse with them, or if several [people] inherit them in partnership.”
“Question 11: May a man have intercourse with the female slave of his wife?
“A man may not have intercourse with the female slave of his wife, because [the slave] is owned by someone else.”
“Question 12: May a man kiss the female slave of another, with the owner’s permission?
“A man may not kiss the female slave of another, for kissing [involves] pleasure, and pleasure is prohibited unless [the man] owns [the slave] exclusively.”
“Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?
“It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”
“Question 14: What private parts of the female slave’s body must be concealed during prayer?
“Her private body parts [that must be concealed] during prayer are the same as those [that must be concealed] outside [prayer], and they [include] everything besides the head, neck, hands and feet.”
“Question 15: May a female slave meet foreign men without wearing a hijab?
“A female slave is allowed to expose her head, neck, hands, and feet in front of foreign men if fitna [enticement] can be avoided. However, if fitna is present, or of there is fear that it will occur, then it [i.e. exposing these body parts becomes] forbidden.”
“Question 16: Can two sisters be taken together while taking slaves?
“It is permissible to have two sisters, a female slave and her aunt [her father’s sister], or a female slave and her aunt [from her mother’s side]. But they cannot be together during intercourse, [and] whoever has intercourse with one of them cannot have intercourse with the other, due to the general [consensus] over the prohibition of this.”
“Question 17: What is al-‘azl?
“Al-‘azl is refraining from ejaculating on a woman’s pudendum [i.e. coitus interruptus].”
“Question 18: May a man use the al-‘azl [technique] with his female slave?
“A man is allowed [to use] al-‘azl during intercourse with his female slave with or without her consent.”
“Question 19: Is it permissible to beat a female slave?
“It is permissible to beat the female slave as a [form of] darb ta’deeb [disciplinary beating], [but] it is forbidden to [use] darb al-takseer [literally, breaking beating], [darb] al-tashaffi [beating for the purpose of achieving gratification], or [darb] al-ta’dheeb [torture beating]. Further, it is forbidden to hit the face.”
Question 20: What is the ruling regarding a female slave who runs away from her master?
“A male or female slave’s running away [from their master] is among the gravest of sins…”
“Question 21: What is the earthly punishment of a female slave who runs away from her master?
“She [i.e. the female slave who runs away from her master] has no punishment according to the shari’a of Allah; however, she is [to be] reprimanded [in such a way that] deters others like her from escaping.”
“Question 22: Is it permissible to marry a Muslim [slave] or a kitabiyya [i.e. Jewish or Christian] female slave?
“It is impermissible for a free [man] to marry Muslim or kitabiyat female slaves, except for those [men] who feared to [commit] a sin, that is, the sin of fornication…”
“Question 24: If a man marries a female slave who is owned by someone else, who is allowed to have intercourse with her?
“A master is prohibited from having intercourse with his female slave who is married to someone else; instead, the master receives her service, [while] the husband [gets to] enjoy her [sexually].”
“Question 25: Are the huddoud [Koranic punishments] applied to female slaves?
“If a female slave committed what necessitated the enforcement of a hadd [on her], a hadd [is then] enforced on her – however, the hadd is reduced by half within the hudud that accepts reduction by half…”
“Question 27: What is the reward for freeing a slave girl?
“Allah the exalted said [in the Koran]: ‘And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass [hell]? It is the freeing of a slave.’ And [the prophet Muhammad] said: ‘Whoever frees a believer Allah frees every organ of his body from hellfire.'”

[1], December 3, 2014.

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El 2015 ya se fué

3 enero, 2016

El 2015 ya se fue
Para Anahí Tappata de Rodriguez Martin SORIA Daniel AROCA Eduardo E SAINT MARTIN Alberto Balladini y 73 más…
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El 2015 ya quedo atrás, fue muy duro para todos, y por Argentina avanzamos bastante, pero queda mucho por hacer, si en el 2016 seguimos divididos, pasaremos otros 85 años en AnarquíA, y para nosotros, nuestros hijos y nietos Argentina se termino… Pero esta es una magnifica oportunidad de UNIRNOS comenzando desde abajo, hablando con nuestros vecinos y buscando cosas simplespara dejar de discutir. … La Memoria de Papa es algo que nos va a unir, dotar de tomógrafos a los hospitales populares es otra y la bandera “Que Devuelvan lo Robado nadie se puede negar…
No es difícil, se como hacerlo y CREEME desde afuera les conviene que Argentina retome el lugar que perdimos el 10 de Septiembre de 1930.
Sabes que es lo mas difícil? SALIR DE LA INDIFERENCIA, LEE el adjunto que aquí te envió… cuando pueda los pondré en un blog especial… mira la LISTA abierta de destinatarios ¡Que mejor gente podemos tener, ya no es hora de reproches … ten paciencia hasta que tenga la oportunidad de explicarte como mi diagnostico “esqizofrenia-anarquia nos redimirá a todos…
Ahh un dato importante este síndrome anarco/esquizoide NO ES exclusivo de Argentina… mira al planeta … el mundo es un despelote del que NADIE se salva… pero solo Argentina tiene reproches internacionales muchos mas duros que los que leerás entre nosotros en el adjunto.
Solo Argentina tiene miles de toneladas de oro para pagar la deuda externa, Solo Argentina tiene al articulo 29 en La Constitucion, Solo argentina tiene al AMPARO que salio de Roca, llego al Juez Griesa y en vez de contestarme A MI,,, salio a hacer declaraciones en los medios “VIEJO ESTUPIDO” fue un buen Juez pero este caso LO VENCIO con 19 anos menos FAYT le dio una lección… Solo Argentina tiene a FAYT El juez de CSJ mas longevo del mundo… Solo Argentina tiene al Zorzal Criollo al que La Voz le debe su carrera y lo que llego a ser… y solo Argentina tiene al TANGO:
“El Mundo fue y será una porquería ya lo se” …
Solo Argentina tiene a Cristina que aunque ni ella lo sabe ni cree “Nos Salvo…
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2 enero, 2016







By Andres D’Alessandro and Chris Kraul
December 30, 2015

It didn’t take Argentina’s new president very long to ruin Lorena Garcia’s business.

Garcia, a money changer, is one of legions whose livelihood was turned upside down when Mauricio Macri, in one of his first acts as president, eliminated a subsidized exchange rate for the Argentine peso.

“The golden age is over,” Garcia said in a low voice, a calculator by her side, as she sat in her jewelry shop on Florida Street. Her district in central Buenos Aires has long been home to legions of “arbolitos,” or “little trees,” as money changers are known here, in a reference to the green of the U.S. dollar.

The buying and selling of dollars has long been an under-the-table, technically illegal side business at shops like hers. Business boomed under Macri’s predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who kept the official dollar exchange rate at an artificially low level, as much as 50% under the market value, in a bid to restrain inflation.

Before Dec. 16, when Macri’s center-right government abolished the subsidized rate, the peso was officially trading at about 9.5 to the dollar, but shops like Garcia’s were offering around 14 to the dollar. Once Macri’s changes went into effect, the peso’s value floated to about 13 to the dollar, close to the rate on the “blue market,” as the off-books money changers were known.

Almost instantly, some two thirds of the arbolitos closed up shop, by Garcia’s estimate. Although she continues to change money for tourists and informal business owners who keep their cash under the official radar, volume is down sharply.

“This has happened before and arbolitos have always come back,” Garcia said.

The elimination of an official exchange rate was one of Macri’s first acts after taking office on Dec. 10. He made no secret during his campaign of his plans to scrap much of Fernandez’s left-leaning economic policies and wasted little time in doing so, blaming them for Argentina’s dismal economy, which currently suffers from stagnant growth and 28% inflation.

Despite the pain felt by Garcia and other moneychangers, Macri’s policy shifts have generated positive public response overall, pollsters say.

“According to a survey we did for a private firm, we figure that the Mauricio Macri government now can count on 60% support,” said Analia del Franco of the Analogias polling firm in Buenos Aires.

In his short time in office, Macri has slashed high taxes on farm goods, eliminated some export controls and moved to cut a yawning budget deficit caused partially by Fernandez’s expansive spending on social-welfare programs. The red ink this year will equal 7% of the country’s total economic output, economists expect.

Macri has been busy dismantling some of Fernandez’s foreign policies as well. He scolded Fernandez’s former ally Venezuela for alleged human rights abuses at a recent meeting of regional leaders and has reiterated his campaign pledge to improve relations with the United States, a frequent rhetorical punching bag for his populist predecessor.

Among the sectors most pleased with Macri is Argentina’s farm and cattle sector, which chafed under controls implemented by Fernandez that were designed to limit many goods’ access to export markets in a bid to keep overall demand, and thus prices, low for domestic consumers.

“There is a strong optimism,” said Jaime Campos, president of Argentina Business Assn., a leading trade group, in an interview with Clarin newspaper. “We are confident that the government will do things correctly. [Macri has] a team that is well prepared, integrated and that knows the issues.”

Campos also applauded Macri’s efforts to reach out for better relations with Brazil and Chile while “keeping a distance from countries that don’t respect human rights,” a reference to Venezuela.

At the meeting of South American leaders earlier this month, Macri called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to release political prisoners, including Leopoldo Lopez, the former Caracas borough mayor jailed since February 2014 on incitement to violence charges, which Lopez and his supporters say are trumped up.

Fernandez was a staunch defender of Venezuela’s socialist policies and a close colleague of that country’s late president, Hugo Chavez.

Macri also served notice that he won’t repeat Fernandez’s friendly gestures to Iran, whose officials are suspected of having planned the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left 85 dead.

Soon after taking the oath of office, Macri said he would not try to block, as Fernandez did, a 2014 ruling by a federal prosecutor that an agreement between Iran and Argentina regarding the bombing investigation was unconstitutional. The prosecutor said the agreement Fernandez made with Iran shielded certain suspects from international arrest warrants.

Macri also made friends among some U.S. investors by indicating he was open to settling a $100-billion bond default dating back to 2002 by making good on unpaid judgments.

White House aides have been quoted as saying that President Obama is considering a Latin America trip next year that will include a stop in Argentina, partly in recognition of Macri’s stated desire to improve bilateral relations.

In another move cheered by many free-speech advocates, Macri said he will “normalize” the calculation of government economic data, a reference to allegations that Fernandez pressured government statisticians to paint a rosier economic picture than warranted.

Not all Argentines approve of Macri’s market-friendly policies. Although Fernandez herself has been silent, groups of her supporters have organized three marches since Macri took power to protest his changes in telecommunications policy, his upcoming judicial appointments and other changes.

“These economic measures produce the transfer of millions from Argentine workers to large exporters and to financial powers who benefit from the liberalization of the economy [and] put at risk the workers, their savings, production and jobs,” said a joint statement issued by several workers groups closely associated with Fernandez.

And some economists also warn that Macri’s domestic policy changes could exacerbate Argentines’ financial pain, at least in the short term. Few expect the current high inflation rate to moderate over the next few months and some warn that the economy could shrink over the first six months of 2016, before resuming growth by the end of next year.

But Macri says the first dividends of his more market-friendly policies have begun to arrive; he announced this month that private firms had committed $500 million in new investment in energy projects. Foreign oil and natural gas companies by and large stayed away from Argentina’s promising oil reserves during Fernandez’s administration because of her price controls and history of having nationalized energy firms.

“People and markets have reacted positively,” said Mariano Gorodisch, a Buenos Aires-based financial analyst and journalist. “Signs of confidence indicate an improved future.”

Jan 2nd 2016

Mauricio Macri’s early decisions are bringing benefits and making waves

MAURICIO MACRI, who took office as Argentina’s president in December, has wasted little time in undoing the populist policies of his predecessor. On December 14th he scrapped export taxes on agricultural products such as wheat, beef and corn and reduced them on soyabeans, the biggest export. Two days later Alfonso Prat-Gay, the new finance minister, lifted currency controls, allowing the peso to float freely. A team from the new government then met the mediator in a dispute with foreign bondholders in an attempt to end Argentina’s isolation from the international credit markets.

This flurry of decisions is the first step towards normalising an economy that had been skewed by the interventionist policies of ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, who governed before her. They carry an immediate cost, which Mr Macri will seek to pin on the Kirchners. Some of the new president’s other early initiatives are proving more controversial.

The economic reforms seem to be working. Farmers who had hoarded grain in the hope that the tariffs would be lifted are now selling, replenishing foreign-exchange reserves that had been drained to defend the artificially strong peso. The newly freed currency fell by more than 30%, a further boost to exporters. It has stabilised at around 13 pesos to the dollar. “Substantive” talks with holdout bondholders starting in early January could lead to a return to credit markets in 2016.

But the devaluation has pushed up the inflation rate, already more than 25% when Mr Macri took office. To rein it back, on December 15th the central bank raised interest rates on short-term fixed deposits by eight percentage points to 38%. The government hopes to persuade business and trade-union leaders to keep tight control of prices and wages. But that may prove difficult: the unions are fragmented and little disposed to help Mr Macri, a centre-right politician; businesses may balk at holding down prices. Barclays, a bank, expects the economy to contract by 1.1% in 2016. But increased foreign investment should lead to renewed growth of 3.5% in 2017.

Mr Macri’s attempts to bring fresh talent into institutions dominated by Ms Fernández’s kirchneristas have run into resistance, from both foes and allies. On December 14th, with the Senate in recess, Mr Macri temporarily appointed by decree two Supreme Court judges. He then booted out the chief of the media regulator, Martín Sabbatella.

In both cases his motives were worthy. He wants independent jurists in the courts. Mr Sabbatella had clashed with Grupo Clarín, a big media group. Mr Macri thinks his removal will strengthen press freedom. But critics say he misused his authority. On the judges, at least, he has relented. He will now wait for the Senate’s approval.

Touring northern Argentina, where 20,000 people have been displaced from their homes by floods, Mr Macri blamed the former president, saying she had failed to invest in flood defences (see article). For now, Argentines are likely to believe their new president. However, if the economic slowdown is prolonged, the honeymoon will not be.

By Pablo Rosendo Gonzalez
December 30, 2015

* Output may easily double in future harvests, Minister says
* Country eliminated taxes and export permits that set quotas

Argentina is poised to double its wheat and corn crops after recently revised grain export policies, Buenos Aires Province Agriculture Minister Leonardo Sarquis said.

The government published a decree Tuesday in the official gazette ending its export permit policy.

President Mauricio Macri had eliminated export taxes on corn and wheat as well as bureaucratic export permits since assuming office on Dec. 10.

Export restrictions were implemented in the past decade under former presidents Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in a bid to boost government revenue and ensure domestic supplies. Local prices for both cereals slumped and farmers reduced wheat plantings, switching to crops that didn’t require export permits and weren’t taxed such as barley.

“Now that we have changed these wrong policies, the wheat planted area will be doubled by farmers,” Sarquis said in an interview. “Corn may take another year to double, but for sure we will have record crops of both cereals from now on.”

Buenos Aires province produces 70 percent of the country’s wheat.

Peso Devaluation

Argentina’s Agriculture Ministry is forecasting the current wheat crop to be 10.9 million metric tons. That’s below the 2007-08 record crop of 16.4 million, before the export permit policy was initiated.

The country’s record corn crop of 27 million tons was harvested in the 2013-2014 season, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. Argentina is the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter.

The export of grains has become more profitable for farmers after Argentina’s government lifted four years of currency controls, leading to the the biggest one-day peso devaluation in the last 14 years on Dec. 17.

In the last 10 days, Argentina, the world’s largest shipper of soybean derivatives, shipped three times the amount of grains and oilseed abroad that it sold in the entire month of November. It shipped $1.2 billion of grains and oilseed in the last 10 days compared with November exports of $451 million, according to the exporters’ group data.

Export taxes for soybeans were cut to 30 percent from 35 percent by Macri.

By Teresa Rivas
December 30, 2015

More Argentina news: Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri has already suspended limits on currency exchange, and made a big investment in the nation’s energy sector, but there are even more changes on the table as he plows through his first weeks in office.

Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press
Macri’s government has already cut excise taxes on new cars in an attempt to boost auto production, which could use a boost after years of lackluster growth thanks to economic weakness at home and in major trading partner Brazil.

Reuters’ Walter Bianchi has the details:

The government of Mauricio Macri will analyze the impacts of the lowered taxes after six months and modify them as needed, Production Minister Francisco Cabrera said.

A tax on cars that cost more than 350,000 pesos ($27,000) will fall to 10 percent from 30 percent while a tax on luxury vehicles that cost more than 800,000 pesos will fall to 20 from 50 percent, Cabrera said.

Elsewhere, Macri also eliminated limits on the amount of corn and wheat that Argentina’s farmers can export, which his government will believes will lift the country’s grains production to as much as 130 million tonnes a year during the president’s first term. Argentina currently produces around 100 million tonnes.

Farmers had sought the change under Marci’s predecessor, Cristina Fernandez, but she said the curbs were needed to keep domestic food needs met.

Reuters’’ Nicolas Misculin reports:

The new center-right administration of President Mauricio Macri eliminated taxes on corn, wheat and soy exports earlier this month, making good on a campaign pledge to take steps to encourage agricultural production.

The export quotas had curbed corn and wheat planting and resulted in the overplanting of soy in recent years.

New changes are coming quite quickly for Macri, who is already fulfilling a number of his campaign promises. Yet his swiftness may be more than simply appeasing those who voted for him.

Many predicted that Macri’s hands would be tied after a bitter election cycle that ended with Fernandez skipping Macri’s inauguration and many of her party still in power. As The Washington Post’s Frederic Puglie writes, Macri is bent on disproving those who thought he would be mired in red tape and opposition:

Mr. Macri evicted the head of the government’s powerful media regulation body, one of a handful of Fernandez-appointed officials who defied the new president’s call to resign. He reversed Argentina’s posture toward Venezuela by pushing Caracas to release political prisoners and tried to circumvent Congress by temporarily appointing two Supreme Court justices.

The flurry of activity is meant to show “gobernabilidad,” or the administration’s ability to govern despite a divided parliament dominated by Ms. Fernandez’s Front for Victory and other Peronists — who also hold much sway in Argentina’s powerful trade unions.

Finally, two of Argentina’s former transportation ministers will go to jail over a 2012 train crash in the capital of Buenas Aires that killed 50 people.

The New York Times’ Jonathan Gilbert has this brief:

Juan Pablo Schiavi, who held the post at the time, was given an eight-year sentence, convicted of causing the deaths. Ricardo Jaime, his predecessor, was given a six-year sentence, merged with punishment for a previous charge of receiving bribes while in government. Both were found guilty of fraudulent practices that jeopardized the management of train lines and led to the tragedy, a four-judge panel said. Nineteen others were convicted, including the driver of the train and Sergio Claudio Cirigliano, whose company operated the commuter line.

30 December 2015

NEW YORK, Dec. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — In 2015 packaged food in Argentina recorded retail volume growth of only 1%, which was in line with the natural growth of the population. The economic crisis played a key role in driving demand for packaged food, boosting the consumption of staples to the detriment of more sophisticated and added-value products. Products such as rice and pasta recorded good performances as these products are inexpensive, easy to prepare and can be combined with other foods. Moreover, the reduction in real wages…

Euromonitor International’s Packaged Food in Argentina report offers a comprehensive guide to the size and shape of the market at a national level. It provides the latest retail sales data 2010-2014, allowing you to identify the sectors driving growth.

By Carlos Spegazzini
December 30, 2015

A passer-by on Christmas Day found a meter-long shell on a riverbank in Argentina which may be from a glyptodont, a prehistoric kind of giant armadillo, experts said Tuesday.

A local man thought the black scaly shell was a dinosaur egg when he saw it lying in the mud, his wife Reina Coronel told AFP.

Her husband Jose Antonio Nievas found the shell beside a stream at their farm in Carlos Spegazzini, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Buenos Aires.

“My husband went out to the car and when he came back he said, ‘Hey, I just found an egg that looks like it came from a dinosaur,” she said.

“We all laughed because we thought it was a joke.”

Nievas told television channel Todo Noticias he found the shell partly covered in mud and started to dig around it.

Various experts who saw television pictures of the object said it was likely to be a glyptodont shell.

“There is no doubt that it looks like a glyptodont,” said paleontologist Alejandro Kramarz of the Bernadino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum.

“The animal became extinct thousands of years ago and it is very common to find their fossils in this region,” he told AFP.

330-Pound Beavers: What Earth Would Look Like Without Us

Glyptodonts are the ancestors of modern armadillos. They had big round armored shells and weighed up to a ton.

They lived in South America for tens of millions of years.

Kramarz estimated the specimen found by Nievas was relatively young at 10,000 years.

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Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

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2 enero, 2016




4. MACRI-ECONOMICS IN ARGENTINA (Council on Foreign Relations)


By Jonathan Gilbert
Dec. 22, 2015

BUENOS AIRES — Seventy-five team directors had placed their votes in envelopes, and Argentine soccer was moments from electing its first new leader after 35 years under the rule of Julio Grondona, a strongman of Latin American soccer politics who died in 2014. But hope quickly turned to despair: The 75 votes somehow produced a 38-38 tie, a stunning rejection of basic mathematics.

The botched election for the presidency of the Argentine soccer federation this month was viewed by many Argentines as a national disgrace. But in its dysfunction, it offered a view into the perils faced by the new figures battling to control the region’s influential soccer organizations in the wake of a sweeping corruption scandal, and how difficult it will be to coax leaders whom fans can trust out of what many consider a tainted talent pool.

Sepp Blatter during a news conference in which he said the FIFA ethics committee that suspended him “has no right.”

“I can’t trust any of them now — they’re all sullied,” said Patricia Rodríguez, 55, a travel agent, referring to Luis Segura and Marcelo Tinelli, the two candidates in the tied vote. “It’s such a shame, because I had great hopes.”

Ms. Rodriguez’s comments could be repeated all over South America. Of the more than 40 defendants charged in the United States Justice Department’s broad investigation of corruption in world soccer, more than half hail from South America. Every country in the continent’s 10-member confederation, Conmebol, has had at least one senior soccer official charged in the case. The defendants include the past three Conmebol presidents, three former presidents of the Brazilian national federation and the current or former presidents of the federations of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

In Argentina, the federation’s presidential election was rescheduled for last Friday, but in a turn that further exasperated the country’s fans, Mr. Tinelli won a court order postponing the vote indefinitely. For the moment, talks are reportedly underway between the candidates about forming a crisis committee to lead the federation until a new president can be selected.

Mr. Segura, 73, has been the interim president since Mr. Grondona’s death. But because he had been a vice president at the federation for more than a decade, he is largely viewed as a fusty continuation of Mr. Grondona’s leadership. Mr. Tinelli, 55, a popular television host and a relative outsider at the federation, has been proposing increased transparency. But the chaotic election process left many in Argentina skeptical that either man could realistically carry through needed reforms.

“They learned in Grondona’s shadow,” Javier Cantero, a former president of Independiente, one of Argentina’s so-called big-five teams, said of figures like Mr. Segura and some of the voters. Calling for overhauls that would make the federation’s dealings more open, Mr. Cantero added, “It’s a closed door locking in a putrid smell.”
Mr. Grondona cemented power by negotiating lucrative TV and advertising contracts for the federation, then used its financial clout to exert influence over club directors, said Hernán Castillo, who has written a book about Mr. Grondona. After rising to the presidency in 1979, during a military dictatorship, Mr. Grondona was re-elected eight times. Only one candidate, Teodoro Nitti, a former referee, ever officially stood against him; Mr. Nitti won just a single vote.

Allegations of corruption shadowed Mr. Grondona for years, but he was never convicted of a crime. Now, two of his closest aides are under house arrest — accused by the Justice Department of receiving kickbacks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time from sports marketing executives in exchange for rights to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition.

The charges against the men, the former Conmebol general secretaries José Luis Meiszner, 69, and Eduardo Deluca, 75, emerged on the day of the fumbled election. To those in favor of reform, the tied vote was a perfect symbol of a resistance to change that they fear will thwart even the most basic reforms.

“It’s a joke that they expect us to believe it was a mistake,” said Brenda Aznar, 26, a secretary for an accounting firm.
In neighboring Brazil, the federation president, Marco Polo del Nero, and two of his predecessors, Ricardo Teixeira and José Maria Marin, have been indicted.
Mr. Marin, who was detained in Switzerland in May, agreed to be extradited to the United States. But after Mr. del Nero — who is accused of receiving kickbacks from sports marketing executives — took a leave of absence to defend himself in the case, there have been calls in Brazil for his resignation and a new election to replace him.

There will also be elections at Conmebol next month; the organization sank into disarray when Juan Ángel Napout, 57, its Paraguayan president, resigned after his arrest in Switzerland and extradition to the United States this month. Mr. Napout has denied receiving millions of dollars in the kickback scheme. His two predecessors in the post, Paraguay’s Nicolás Leoz and Uruguay’s Eugenio Figueredo, had been indicted in May.

Hewing to pleas for reform, Wilmar Valdez, 50, the Uruguayan who was named Mr. Napout’s interim replacement until the elections, in which he will run, told the Argentine newspaper La Nación, “I want true change for South American soccer.”

Fans on the continent have little faith in such pledges, pointing to a tainted generation of soccer leaders.
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“The possibility for change is there,” said Nicolás Lobos, 28, who manages a restaurant in Buenos Aires. “But it’s difficult to frame it from the perspective of officials, who often veer away from the hopes of fans.”

Still, some observers said Argentines should be optimistic, highlighting the fact that there was a competitive election at all, even if it produced a comical result and will have to be repeated.

“Soccer is the people’s sport, but the discussion was always a closed one,” said Ezequiel Fernández Moores, a sports columnist for La Nación. “At last, after 35 years of monopoly power, there’s a public debate.”

December 23, 2015

Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, has extended his move to scrap taxes on agricultural exports to the mining sector, eliciting purrs of approval from gold miner Patagonia Gold.

The company said on Wednesday:

This measure coupled with the recent announcement removing exchange controls and the import restrictions continues to improve the overall economic environment in Argentina and opens new opportunities for Patagonia Gold.

Mr Macri was elected on a reform platform in last month’s elections, and he has wasted no time in giving Argentina’s economy a full-on makeover.

Last week he lifted capital controls, allowing the Argentine peso to plummet more than 36 per cent against the dollar.

Patagonia Gold said earlier in the week that this move would result in an “improvement in margins”.

It also praised Mr Macri’s move to abolish “restrictive and complicated” regulations on imports, which, it says:

will expedite the process of importing necessary machinery and spare parts as well as services for the Company, which is expected to improve efficiencies and have a positive impact on production.

Andes Energia, a London-listed but Argentina and Colombia-focused oil and gas explorer, recently said it is excited about the prospects for Argentina’s shale oil industry under Mr Macri.

December 22, 2015


Eager to dismantle his predecessor’s economic policies, Argentine President Mauricio Macri marked his first week in office by taking aggressive steps to liberalize the Argentine economy. So far, the new president has managed to slash taxes on agricultural exports and lift currency controls, causing the value of the Argentine peso to plunge by 30 percent.

Macri’s “shock therapy” policy will undoubtedly hike the country’s already-high inflation even further, putting additional strain on the struggling economy, at least at first. And as Argentines begin to feel the potentially painful side effects, resistance to the president’s approach will build.


In Argentina, December is often a month of conflict. Soaring heat, intermittent blackouts, high spending levels and salary negotiations for the coming year push societal tensions to their peak. With Macri’s rapid and dramatic adjustments to the economy, this December is shaping up to be no exception. Since assuming his post on Dec. 10 Macri has focused the bulk of his efforts on reversing Argentina’s economic deterioration. After more than a decade of the protectionist policies and a heavily regulated foreign currency exchange system put in place by the previous adminsitrations, the country is in dire need of a new — and according to Macri, drastic — approach.

Macri’s efforts to shock the economy out of its stupor began on Dec. 14, when he announced his intention to remove the export taxes in place on some of Argentina’s most competitive agricultural products, including beef, wheat and corn. He also plans to reduce the export taxes on soybeans from 35 to 30 percent. The move marks a significant change in Argentine policy: Beginning in 2008, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner maintained high taxes despite farmers’ complaints to fund her energy subsidies and price-control programs.

While Macri’s move may win the support of Argentine farmers, he runs the risk of making enemies elsewhere. The decision to reduce export taxes comes alongside his declaration of a state of emergency within Argentina’s electricity sector as part of a plan to raise tariffs on electricity and natural gas starting in early January. The Kirchner-Fernandez clan’s energy subsidies were among its most popular social policies; by undercutting them, Macri could risk inciting protests by the former leaders’ power bases.

Still, the more pressing concern will be the rapid impact Macri’s policies will have on inflation. After he lifted capital controls, the value of the Argentine peso fell by 30 percent, dropping from 9.8 pesos to the U.S. dollar to 15 pesos. (It has now settled at 14 pesos to the dollar.) As a result, inflation is expected to surge by the end of the month, potentially rising even further in 2016.

Compared with Fernandez’s sudden devaluation of the peso in 2014, Macri’s removal of capital controls was widely expected. Argentina’s private banks have promised to lend about $7 billion to the country’s central bank to help combat the climbing inflation rate. This will offer much-needed relief to the government, whose international reserves are dwindling. Alfonso Prat-Gray, the country’s recently appointed finance minister, is also seeking $10 billion from Wall Street firms to help Argentina settle its debt with foreign bondholders, which currently exceeds $7 billion. Additionally, Argentina has managed to secure $5 billion with the help of the Inter-American Bank and $3.1 billion worth of yuan through a currency swap with China.

Who to Watch

In the coming weeks, Stratfor will be closely monitoring the reactions of the actors who play an important role in Argentine politics:
◾Members of the former administration: Members of the former ruling party, including Fernandez herself, have already begun to criticize Macri’s plans to liberalize the economy. It will be particularly important to monitor figures such as Hugo Moyano, Hector Recalde, Carlos Kunkel and Hugo Yasky, who have enough clout within the labor unions and the legislative branch to slow Macri’s progress.
◾Pro-Kirchner groups and labor unions: Groups that support the previous administration, such as La Campora, will be important to watch because they will heed any encouragement by the former president to launch protests against Macri’s moves to reduce social spending, especially ahead of the next midterm and presidential elections. Meanwhile, the General Confederation of Labor, the Central Argentinean Workers Union and the Transportation Union — all of which are led by opposition figures — are calling for protests in the coming week to obtain 5,000-peso bonuses in response to the currency’s recent depreciation. Though these unions do not have the power to completely derail Macri’s liberalization plan, they could use their influence among transportation and manufacturing workers to instigate strikes and protests among the low- and middle-income classes.
◾Sergio Massa and Daniel Scioli: Massa, the leader of the dissident faction of the Peronist movement Front for Renewal Dissident Peronist Party (the third-largest faction in the lower house of parliament), has refrained from commenting on Macri’s policies so far. However, because Massa’s party has 27 seats in the lower house, its support will be crucial to Macri’s coalition (92 seats) as it looks to push through new legislation. Scioli, the presidential candidate for the former ruling party who warned against Macri’s “neoliberal” plans for Argentina during the recent campaign, represents a powerful Kirchernist faction and will likely try to persuade Massa to join the opposition, which currently holds 109 seats.
◾Macri’s allies: The Radical Civic Union Party is the biggest ally of the new ruling party, Let’s Change. Together, the two control 92 seats in the lower house of parliament. With both houses politically fragmented, Macri will need the support of the party and its leaders, including Ernesto Sanz, Mario Negro, Angel Rozas and Jose Corral, to successfully push toward further economic liberalization. In exchange, Macri may need to yield to their requests for particular appointments to the Supreme Court and the Cabinet, as well as to their policy preferences more generally.
◾Residents of Buenos Aires province: December heat and the possibility of blackouts mean street protests unrelated to Kirchnerist politics could occur.

What to Expect

Since Argentines typically travel in January, the country will likely remain tense but relatively calm for the first month of 2016. However, teachers’ unions and others may start demanding higher salaries in response to Macri’s policies come February, which could lead to protests and/or strikes. If protests occur, demonstrators will probably focus their demands on increased salaries, not on calls for the president’s resignation.

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4. MACRI-ECONOMICS IN ARGENTINA (Council on Foreign Relations)
By Robert Kahn and Ted Liu
December 22, 2015

While markets have focused attention on China as the primary source of market risk in 2016, Latin America has provided the more significant headlines in recent weeks. Political turmoil in Brazil has resulted in the resignation of a market-friendly finance minister, and default looms in Venezuela. But perhaps nowhere in Latin America is more at stake than with the economic revolution now underway in Argentina.

As the first non-Peronist president in more than a decade, Mauricio Macri has promised to roll back populist policies of his predecessors and implement market-friendly measures in Argentina. Following his election, his administration moved quickly to lift currency controls, resulting in a substantial devaluation of the official exchange rate, reduced trade taxes, installed a new central bank president, and raised $5 billion in financing from a group of international banks. He has also promised to settle the country’s decade long legal battle with creditors, normalizing the country’s economic relations and turning Argentina outward. At a time when populism is constraining economic reform across the industrial and emerging world, many in markets see Argentina as a bright spot in the region.

Markets have responded quite positively to this big-bang approach. After dropping over 25 percent, the currency has stabilized and a number of banks have raised their recommendation on Argentine assets. Still, the economic challenge is daunting. Diminishing foreign exchange reserves raise uncertainty in Argentina’s ability to defend peso’s value should crises occur (Figure 1). Inflation is rampant, over 25 percent as of October. The expansionist fiscal policy has also created a deficit that private estimates by companies including Goldman Sachs place between 6 and 7 percent. The sharply weaker currency will exacerbate these challenges, at least temporarily, even as it sets the basis for competitiveness in the longer term. Without much room to maneuver in collecting revenue, Macri’s fiscal consolidation will most likely rely on cutting expenditure, including popular energy subsidies instituted by his predecessors. Finding alternative sources of expenditure cut and revenue increases will be a difficult though critical task.

The broader question is whether this time is different, and whether Argentina can break out of its history of populist economic cycles. While all these measures are necessary, they will be painful and likely induce economic contraction in the short term. Accustomed to years of economic populism, the Argentine people will now need to support policies previously deeply unpopular. Meanwhile, his party lacks a majority in the Argentine congress. Historically, investors would have done well from buying Argentina after default and selling on efforts at normalization. There’s a danger of political and social backlash, and perhaps this is not the end of populism for Argentina.

Against a weak global economic backdrop, the country will face challenging fiscal outlook and likely economic contraction. Getting the sequencing and coordination of reforms right will require a delicate balance between economic change and disruption. Macri’s shock therapy is rare in Latin America, and the track record of shock programs (including notably in post-Soviet Eastern Europe) is mixed. A critical question will be his ability to sustain support until reform produces material improvement in growth prospects. Populist pressure could return quickly if the program falters. There is a lot riding on the outcome.


Source: Central Bank of Argentina

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December 22, 2015

Venezuela’s domestic woes and the loosening of Argentine trade restrictions may help languishing EU talks along

Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez clashed at the Mercosur summit in Asuncion yesterday, with Macri calling for the bloc to press for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela and Rodriguez accusing him of interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs. However, following Venezuela’s National Assembly elections Macri has desisted from earlier plans to seek to apply Mercosur’s democratic clause to Caracas. Summit participants signed a declaration in support of human rights, but made no progress on issues such as the long-stalled free-trade talks with the EU. Taking over the pro tempore presidency of the bloc, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez promised to give new impetus to economic integration projects.

Our judgement

Difficulties in advancing with EU trade talks have not been overcome, although recent Argentine moves to end foreign trade curbs may help in this direction. Tensions between Buenos Aires and Caracas are set to rise, but Venezuela’s crisis is likely to reduce its influence in Mercosur and also the activities of competing integration efforts such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).






23 December 2015

The fiscal imbalance, which has climbed to peaks not seen since the late 1980s, will be a huge challenge for the new president, Maurcio Macri. Fiscal tightening will be difficult. Financing the deficit and meeting growing debt-service commitments will also be challenging, and will require the new government to negotiate with “holdout” creditors in order to exit default and potentially access international capital markets. A deal with holdouts would ease fiscal and financing pressures enormously, but securing such a deal will be difficult politically, and in the meantime expenditure cuts will need to be made.

Data on the public finances are available for the first ten months of 2015 and show a dramatic deterioration of the fiscal position. The overall non-financial public-sector deficit doubled as total expenditure grew by 36%, while revenue grew by 29% (barely positive in real, inflation-adjusted terms). The deterioration came despite a deceleration of current transfers to the private sector during the year reflecting the impact of lower oil prices on energy subsidies. But other important expenditure items, including social security expenditure and wages, have not shown any signs of slowdown, while capital transfers to provinces have actually accelerated, driven by the electoral calendar.

Growing debt-service burden

Reflecting election-related spending pressures, the then president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, signed a series of decrees over the course of 2015 increasing the budget and providing for the issuance of new debt, including Ps11.1bn (US$804m) in promissory notes falling due in March 2016. These new liabilities add to an already burdensome debt-service schedule in 2016. According to the latest official data, peso-denominated debt-service climbs to Ps99.5bn (US$7.2bn) in 2016, with capital repayment accounting for Ps83.8bn and interest payments Ps15.7bn. A significant portion of this debt is held by government agencies and domestic institutional investors, and is extremely likely to be rolled over. However, US-dollar-denominated debt service is also expected to rise, to nearly US$8bn, of which U$4.3bn reflects capital repayments, mainly to bondholders of restructured debt, as well as some liabilities with multilateral organisations and Paris Club creditors.

With the foreign reserves cushion remaining extremely thin as the government seeks to meet demand for dollars following the removal of controls, financing these dollar amortisations will be tricky. To help to reverse capital flight and ease its financing requirements for 2016, the Macri administration is considering the implementation of a new tax amnesty for repatriated capital. A similar amnesty was introduced by the Fernández government in 2013, but failed to attract dollar inflows amid growing economic distortions and devaluation pressures. The Macri government’s efforts to improve confidence in the policymaking framework (it has already removed foreign-exchange controls and allowed the peso to devalue) could help a fresh tax amnesty to produce better results.

Difficult holdout negotiations on the way

However, the crucial determinant of the sovereign’s access to dollars to finance amortisations will be the effort to exit default. The Fernández government swore never to repay holdout creditors who are seeking payment in full of defaulted debt bought at distressed prices, choosing to fall into technical default rather than negotiate a settlement with these creditors in the aftermath of an unfavourable US court ruling in mid-2014. But this position, and Argentina’s exclusion from international capital markets, has become increasingly untenable amid a drop in the foreign reserves to below US$25bn in recent weeks. A deal with holdouts that allows the sovereign to exit default and reduces risk of attachment of Argentinian assets abroad would pave the way for a return to external debt issuance; an agreement could potentially even involve new credits as part of a settlement. The Macri administration began formal negotiations with the mediator assigned by US courts in late December, with the debt in question (including debts owed to some “me too” creditors who have joined the suit in the past year) estimated at US$10bn.

Negotiations will not be easy: holdouts are aware of Argentina’s desperate need for dollars, while the government will need to get congressional approval to remove the so-called lock law, which currently prevents the executive from offering better terms to holdouts than it offered in the 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings. Although our forecasts assume that a deal will occur at some point in 2016, it is uncertain therefore whether this will happen quickly enough to meet the public sector’s most pressing financing needs. In this context, and also considering the government’s desire to tackle rampant inflation by tightening policy, it is clear that fiscal adjustment will need to take place in 2016.

Fiscal adjustments on the cards

Although the government has emphasised that it will need to take time to review and revise the unrealistic budget for 2016 presented by the Fernández government, it has already given hints of the likely drivers of fiscal adjustment. First, there are plans to raise electricity and natural gas tariffs, which are especially low for households in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires. This rise aims to reduce energy subsidies, a major driver of public expenditure in the past decade. The government is also expected to review the rise in public employment-and wage costs-of recent years, and seems all but certain to implement some sort of restructuring that involves a reduction in public-sector employment (Mr Macri undertook such a restructuring as mayor of the capital. Buenos Aires).

Both moves will have political costs, and although the president is attempting to emphasise that short-term adjustments will produce long-term benefits in the form of more solid, sustainable growth that boosts employment, they will not be easy to push through. Nevertheless, given the primary importance of reducing inflation and boosting external competitiveness to avoid economic crisis, and of reducing public-sector financial pressures, the Macri administration appears to have little alternative, and appears committed to adjustment. This forms the basis for our forecast that the non-financial public-sector (NFPS) deficit will narrow from an estimated 5.1% of GDP to 3.5% of GDP in 2016. More broadly, it supports our assumption that successful macroeconomic adjustment will pave the way for a recovery in the growth outlook in the medium term.

By Robert Kahn and Ted Liu
December 23, 2015

While markets have focused attention on China as the primary source of market risk in 2016, Latin America has provided the more significant headlines in recent weeks. Political turmoil in Brazil has resulted in the resignation of a market-friendly finance minister, and default looms in Venezuela. But perhaps nowhere in Latin America is more at stake than with the economic revolution now underway in Argentina.

As the first non-Peronist president in more than a decade, Mauricio Macri has promised to roll back populist policies of his predecessors and implement market-friendly measures in Argentina. Following his election, his administration moved quickly to lift currency controls, resulting in a substantial devaluation of the official exchange rate, reduced trade taxes, installed a new central bank president, and raised $5 billion in financing from a group of international banks. He has also promised to settle the country’s decade long legal battle with creditors, normalizing the country’s economic relations and turning Argentina outward. At a time when populism is constraining economic reform across the industrial and emerging world, many in markets see Argentina as a bright spot in the region.

Markets have responded quite positively to this big-bang approach. After dropping over 25 percent, the currency has stabilized and a number of banks have raised their recommendation on Argentine assets. Still, the economic challenge is daunting. Diminishing foreign exchange reserves raise uncertainty in Argentina’s ability to defend peso’s value should crises occur. Inflation is rampant, over 25 percent as of October. The expansionist fiscal policy has also created a deficit that private estimates by companies including Goldman Sachs place between 6 and 7 percent. The sharply weaker currency will exacerbate these challenges, at least temporarily, even as it sets the basis for competitiveness in the longer term. Without much room to maneuver in collecting revenue, Macri’s fiscal consolidation will most likely rely on cutting expenditure, including popular energy subsidies instituted by his predecessors. Finding alternative sources of expenditure cut and revenue increases will be a difficult though critical task.

The broader question is whether this time is different, and whether Argentina can break out of its history of populist economic cycles. While all these measures are necessary, they will be painful and likely induce economic contraction in the short term. Accustomed to years of economic populism, the Argentine people will now need to support policies previously deeply unpopular. Meanwhile, his party lacks a majority in the Argentine congress. Historically, investors would have done well from buying Argentina after default and selling on efforts at normalization. There’s a danger of political and social backlash, and perhaps this is not the end of populism for Argentina.

Against a weak global economic backdrop, the country will face challenging fiscal outlook and likely economic contraction. Getting the sequencing and coordination of reforms right will require a delicate balance between economic change and disruption. Macri’s shock therapy is rare in Latin America, and the track record of shock programs (including notably in post-Soviet Eastern Europe) is mixed. A critical question will be his ability to sustain support until reform produces material improvement in growth prospects. Populist pressure could return quickly if the program falters. There is a lot riding on the outcome.

By Jorge Rouillon
December 23, 2015

NEWS ANALYSIS: Argentinian journalist Jorge Rouillon assesses the triangular relationship between Pope Francis and the country’s incoming and outgoing presidents.

BUENOS AIRES — Mauricio Macri became the new president of Argentina on Dec. 10, succeeding Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ceased holding the political office. The relationship between the two was so tense that they did not meet face to face, as political power was exchanged in Pope Francis’ native country.

In fact, Macri’s accession to the presidency is just the most recent development in the complex triangular relationship among the trio of famous Argentinians.

Macri took the oath in Congress, then went to the Pink House or Government House where the provisional leader of the Senate officially handed to him the emblems of power, with, at his side, the chief justice of Argentina. Several South American presidents and the King of Spain were in attendance.

The Pink House is in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo, an iconic square that is highly symbolic for Argentina. There the locals met when the first autonomous Argentine government was formed in May of 1810. There a mass of workers demanded the freedom of their arrested political leader Col. Juan Perón in 1945; he was elected president the following year and ruled till he was ousted by the military in 1955. There from 1977 on the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo perseveringly cried out for their “disappeared” children.

And there, in the last decade, a triangular game — of political, symbolic, economic and spiritual power — was played out by Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio,1998-2013, now Pope Francis; the couple Néstor (president 2003-2007) and Cristina Kirchner (elected in 2007 and 2011), and Mauricio Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires 2007-2015.

Three landmarks face this historic plaza: the Pink House, where the president works, the cathedral and chancery of the Buenos Aires Archdiocese, and city hall. Although separated from each other by only 500 feet, communication among the highest occupants of the three has not been fluid recently. At times a certain distance has been kept and on occasion they’ve even collided.

Néstor Kirchner

When Néstor Kirchner took office the country was returning to stability after the grave economic and social crisis of 2001. Cardinal Bergoglio presided over the thanksgiving ceremony or Te Deum, in the Metropolitan Cathedral on May 25, 2003. In the following year’s Te Deum, the cardinal criticized “those who find themselves so included that they exclude the others, so clear-sighted that they have become blind,” and he reflected on intolerance.

So, Kirchner decided to no longer attend a Te Deum officiated by Cardinal Bergoglio and in the following years he went to similar ceremonies in different provincial cities; his wife continued that tradition when she became president. Néstor Kirchner and the cardinal did not see each other again, except in 2006 at a religious ceremony for three Pallotine priests and two Pallotine seminarians killed in 1976 during the military dictatorship. The archbishop invited the president on that 30th anniversary occasion. That event, coordinated by the Community of Sant’Egidio, also honored Christians killed under Communism, Nazism and other totalitarian regimes, as well as during the Spanish civil war and the Mexican Cristero War.

Néstor Kirchner let it be known at least once that he saw Cardinal Bergoglio as the leader of the opposition. “To consider me an opponent seems to me to be a manifestation of misinformation,” the cardinal told journalists Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin in their book-long interview, when Kirchner still lived. And he added that people knew “my effort and that of the whole Church to build bridges, but with dignity.”

Yet more than once signs pasted by government sympathizers reviled the cardinal, and some declarations made by politicians or articles written by journalists close to the government did so too.

Cristina Kirchner

In fact, when Bergoglio became Pope on March 13, 2013, President Cristina Kirchner (whose husband had died of a heart attack in 2010) did not rejoice. At the tail end of a long speech she mentioned in passing that a “Latin American” Pope had been elected, not using the adjective “Argentinian” nor calling him by his name — and yet giving him advice.

Also at that time, government legislators refused to congratulate the new pope, and some prominent voices linked to the government — among them, Estela Carlotto, the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, who nevertheless a month later would travel to St. Peter’s Square — accused him of being a dark figure of the Church.

But a few days later, realizing there was generalized jubilation in the country due to the election of the Argentinian pope — who as archbishop had taken the subway as merely one more passenger and had frequently visited Buenos Aires slums — the government and its allies changed their tune. Presidenta Kirchner, for whom 200 meters seemed too long a distance to go to visit Cardinal Bergoglio, traveled thousands of miles on several occasions to see Pope Francis, who received her pleasantly, without alluding to previous snubs or differences of opinion.

She journeyed seven times to see the Pope. Four audiences took place in Rome and three in Latin America: the latter were informal, non-exclusive meetings on occasion of papal visits, to Brazil for World Youth Day, and to Paraguay and Cuba this year.

Cristina was nervous at her first meeting with Francis, five days after his election. Not so a year later, on March 17, 2014, at a private and friendly Vatican encounter, where they had lunch and talked for four hours.

On Sept. 19, 2014, Francis again received Cristina at the St. Martha residence. And on June 7, 2015, she was received by the Holy Father in the audience room of the Paul VI hall, in a more formal style.

When, in July of 2013, Cristina went, with other heads of state, to the Rio World Youth Day, she took her party’s candidate for first deputy for the Buenos Aires Province, Martín Insaurralde, with her. It was two weeks before the election primaries, and the photograph of both politicians with the Pope was reproduced in thousands of posters. Despite that marketing, Isaurralde lost. On that occasion, Pope Francis, always attentive to details of affection and courtesy, gifted Cristina with little white shoes and socks for her newborn grandson. He had similar warm gestures for the little daughter of Mauricio Macri, when he greeted the Pope that same year at the Vatican.

The Bergoglio-Macri Relationship

The Bergoglio-Macri relationship in Buenos Aires was probably more fluid: Macri often attended the Masses for educators that the cardinal celebrated each year in the cathedral; and more than once they were together at events with students in Plaza de Mayo. Yet there was friction too.

Once, Macri walked past the columns of the cathedral to visit then-Archbishop Bergoglio to try to explain to him why he had not appealed a homosexual civil marriage that had been authorized by a city magistrate when there was, yet, no national law approving it. Macri’s explanation did not satisfy the cardinal, and much less did he like the official version of that meeting made known by city hall. Archbishop Bergoglio said at the time that Macri “gravely failed in his duty as ruler.” (Since 1994 the mayor of the “Autonomous” City of Buenos Aires is called the Chief of Government of the 3-million-strong city; a constitutional amendment made it a first-level district together with 23 provinces. Before then, the mayor was appointed by the Argentinian president.)

In other difficult topics, such as abortion, the position of the movement that has just won the national elections — with 51 % of the vote in a second round, against the candidate of the party of the Kirchners — is not clear, and it respects personal conscience positions. An adviser of Macri, the Ecuadorian pollster Jaime Durán Barba, said the day before the election that any woman who would like to have an abortion could do so, and minimized the value of what the Pope says on the subject — a comment which upset many Macri sympathizers.

Macri then distanced himself from his adviser, expressed his respect for Francis, and pointed out that personally he is pro-life. A few years earlier, in October of 2012, without being clear, he had declared that in a few days the first legal abortion would take place in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA). “She is a 32-year-old woman, in a case that has gone through all legal instances,” he declared.

Even though Mrs. Kirchner had dissuaded her legislators from supporting abortion bills that they wished to introduce, in 2012 a Supreme Court decision gave a wide interpretation to the fact that there are abortions that are not punishable by law, favoring the procedure. It was a decision of questionable constitutional validity. Cristina’s last health minister established a protocol for public hospitals that makes abortion easy to obtain, since no violation of the law is denounced. In fact, it is a weak measure that can be easily taken to court because it establishes practical administrative guidelines that cannot have the force of law or go against the current law.

The runoff, held Nov. 22, gave 51% of the votes to Macri and 49% to Daniel Scioli, a moderate Peronist. When Scioli early on that night admitted electoral defeat, he twice asked God to enlighten the winner, Macri. The latter, a graduate of a Christian Brothers’ school, a wealthy businessman, and a former head of the soccer club Boca Juniors, also invoked God that night, asking him to illuminate him in his presidency.

This background of transcendence continues to be present in top-tier leaders in a nation where, over and above social behavior, of corruption, of much irregular conduct, faith continues to have force, and is present in the collective vision and in customs such as multitudinous pilgrimages to Marian shrines, like the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján.

On Dec. 2, the authorities of the bishops’ conference of Argentina, led by Santa Fe Archbishop José María Arancedo, who is very close to the Pope, issued a harsh statement pointing out that “drug trafficking is a national drama” and judging that its spread “is incomprehensible without the complicity of power in all its forms.” That same day, to soften the blow, the conference’s top bishops visited President Kirchner in her office “to transmit a formal greeting for the end of her mandate and anticipating a Christmas greeting.”

The Macri-Kirchner Relationship

How has the relation between the other two sides of the triangle been: Macri and Kirchnerism? Regular to bad, though often they have had to work together in certain policies. The Kirchners at the Pink House and Macri at city hall were opponents and did not have an easy relationship. Crime and traffic delays increased in Buenos Aires City under a certain ambiguity in the role of two police forces: Federal and Metropolitan (created by Macri). Because of the disagreements between the two jurisdictions it took several years to build a short section of the highway that now allows thousands of drivers to exit the city more rapidly.

Also, Macri — who obtained 64% of the votes of the city that he governed — was unable to build many miles of subway lines because the Kirchner government refused to provide security for international loans that Macri would have easily gotten.

Between Nov. 22 (runoff) and Dec. 10 (assumption of office) Cristina Kirchner and Macri met only once, briefly, to deal with formal aspects of the transfer of power. She also instructed her ministers to not pass on information to their successors until Dec. 9. Although that position was softened somewhat and several ministers did meet with their counterparts earlier than that.

Ultimately, Plaza de Mayo continued being a symbol. The presidenta left the house from where she and her late husband ruled before Macri arrived.

The Peronist movement has been in power in 25 of the last 32 years of democratic government. Cambiemos (“Let Us Change”), Macri’s coalition, is attempting to govern differently. Macri named several ministers and civil servants with business and managerial background, but he does not claim to be anti-statist in education, health, airlines, and so forth. He says he wants the government to be efficient and to manage well.

On Dec. 11, Macri and his cabinet participated in an interreligious service at the cathedral. Buenos Aires Archbishop Mario Poli asked Macri to “bow in front of the poor.” Macri began strolling before noon from the Pink House to the cathedral, together with several of his ministers, to take part in the Te Deum or thanksgiving ceremony, presided over by Cardinal Poli. He walked some 250 meters, greeting supporters.

During the liturgical ceremony Poli quoted Pope Francis, and a 1966 poem by famous poet Jorge Luis Borges which says that “nobody is the homeland, but we are all it.”

“To imitate the merciful God is to bow before the poor, looking at them from below, not from above. It is to listen to the voiceless, those who fall between the cracks of the system, God’s little privileged ones. Everything we can do for them we do it for him, and God does not let himself be outdone in generosity,” said the cardinal.

Then Macri committed himself before God to be an instrument of concord, peace and social friendship, and to fight against the afflictions of the most needy. Later on, leaders of other religions spoke.

Papal Visit Speculation

Along with the change of political direction in Argentina, international attention was expected to focus on Argentina in 2016 courtesy of a rumored papal visit. However, the Argentine Catholic news agency AICA confirms that Pope Francis will not travel to the country in 2016. Nobody is expecting him. Sources close to the Pope say this, unofficially. And it has been officially denied that Francis would attend the Eucharistic Congress organized by the Argentine bishops for the bicentennial of the nation, in July, in Tucumán, where in 1816 the declaration of independence was made.

December 23, 2015


This year has brought many foreign policy challenges for the United States, particularly throughout Eurasia and the Middle East as conflicts in Syria and Ukraine drag on. But Washington has also seen numerous gains closer to home. The United States has normalized its ties with Cuba, Venezuela’s anti-U.S. ruling party was defeated in parliamentary elections, and Latin American economies that are integrated with the United States generally performed better those that are not. As Washington seeks to advance its geopolitical position in the region even further in 2016, it will likely achieve some measure of success, though certain constraints will prevent it from being able to fully shape Latin America around its interests.


Several significant developments occurred in Latin America in 2015 that had an important impact, whether direct or indirect, on the United States. Chief among them was the formal normalization of ties between the United States and Cuba on July 1. The two re-established diplomatic relations and put in place plans to eventually reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington. This diplomatic coup marked the culmination of a gradual warming of ties that had been taking place since late 2013, when U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, on the sidelines of Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Bilateral talks then began in 2014 on a variety of issues, including the release of political prisoners, the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. embargo on Cuba, while restrictions on travel and tourism began to ease.

One of the most important driving forces behind the U.S.-Cuba normalization was the political and economic evolution taking place in nearby Venezuela. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was one of Cuba’s biggest political and financial backers and a vocal critic of U.S. policies in the region. Under his rule, Venezuela began sending its oil to Cuba in exchange for the employment of tens of thousands of Cuban technical specialists, including security, intelligence and military advisers, as well as doctors and teachers. But Chavez’s death in 2013 and a subsequent, steep decline in global oil prices placed tremendous pressure on Venezuela. Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, has struggled to maintain the country’s internal stability and external relationships ever since.

It is likely no coincidence that Cuba, a longtime dependent of Venezuela, began to more actively pursue a relationship with the United States as the fortunes of its primary patron worsened. Meanwhile, the downturn in Venezuela’s outlook has worked in the United States’ favor. Caracas is home to one of the few remaining anti-U.S. governments in Latin America, and its position has declined in the past few years, as shown by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s stunning loss to an opposition umbrella group during the country’s Dec. 6 legislative elections. Though the party and Maduro still have a hold on the executive office for now, the embattled president could face a referendum against his rule in mid-2016. At the very least, he will be far more constrained than his openly anti-U.S. predecessor was in his ability to rule Venezuela.

The U.S. gains over the past year have not been limited to Cuba and Venezuela. For example, Argentina’s presidential election in late November replaced the leftist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with the pro-business Mauricio Macro. Though not strictly a move toward the United States, Macri’s victory will probably set Argentina on a more cooperative path with its foreign creditors during negotiations over defaulted bonds, and the new leader has already begun to pursue more open trade and investment policies.

Meanwhile, Colombia — a strong U.S. ally — made considerable progress in its negotiations with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known by its Spanish acronym, FARC. The United States has long supported these talks, though it has had some reservations on specific issues such as granting amnesty to FARC members, some of whom are currently in U.S. jails. All signs point to a formal deal between Bogota and the FARC being wrapped up in 2016, which would increase stability in the country.
More broadly, Latin America’s economic performance over the past year has generally favored countries that are closely integrated with the United States, including Mexico, Central American states and Pacific Alliance members (Colombia, Peru and Chile). More left-leaning countries, such as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador, have seen negative or negligible growth. These trends upset the political balance in many of these countries and made some Latin American states more willing to cooperate economically with the United States.

Greater Gains Lie Ahead

And so, in Latin America, 2015 proved to be a rewarding year for the United States in many respects, and several of its successes will likely see even further progress in the coming year. That said, not all news will be good news for Washington: Despite the formal normalization of ties with Cuba, the United States is unlikely to fully lift its embargo on the country in 2016 since the move would require congressional approval in an election year. At the same time, the Venezuelan opposition’s latest win will not mean that Caracas suddenly becomes friendly with the United States, though deeper economic cooperation between the two is a possibility if Venezuela’s financial climate continues to deteriorate. Elsewhere in Latin America, major powers such as Brazil and Argentina will seek closer trade ties with the United States to buoy their sluggish economies. Again, though, political constraints and cultural differences will keep this from translating into the full adoption of a U.S.-style open economic system.

Still, in spite of these potential roadblocks, the United States will likely strengthen its already advantageous position in Latin America in 2016, even as it encounters difficulties elsewhere in the world.

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December 21, 2015

NEW YORK — Argentina has agreed to negotiate in January 2016 with bondholders seeking $10 billion, a court-appointed mediator said on Monday.

The long-running legal dispute has isolated the South American country and its ailing economy from global credit markets. But Daniel Pollack, who was appointed mediator last year, said in a statement that the settlement talks will begin in the second week of January in New York City.

The announcement came after Pollack met with Argentina’s finance chief Luis Caputo and Mario Quintana, the country’s deputy Cabinet chief. The mediator also has had meetings with bondholders, who include representatives of U.S. hedge funds.

The dispute over Argentina’s debt emerged after the South American nation had its worst economic crisis and defaulted on $100 billion in debt in 2001. Most creditors accepted lower-valued bond swaps in 2005 and 2010. But U.S. hedge funds led by billionaire hedge fund investor Paul Singer’s NML Capital Ltd. refused took Argentina to court and won.

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez had long refused to negotiate with the hedge fund creditors, often calling them “vultures.”

The holdouts spent more than a decade litigating for payment in full rather than agreeing to provide Argentina with debt relief. They also sent lawyers around the globe trying to force Argentina to pay its defaulted debts and were able to get a court in Ghana to temporarily seize an Argentine naval training ship. The threat of seizures even forced Fernandez to stop using her presidential plane and instead fly on private jets.

Argentina is facing one of the world’s highest inflation rates and dangerously low foreign reserves. Newly-elected President Mauricio Macri has promised to implement a series of free-market measures to jumpstart the weak economy. He has also vowed to solve the dispute with creditors, which has scared off many would-be investors and return Argentina to international credit markets.

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By Pedro Servin
December 21, 2015

ASUNCION, Paraguay — Argentine President Mauricio Macri asked Venezuela’s government on Monday to free prisoners being held for political reasons.

Macri made his appeal during a meeting of the Mercosur trade bloc in the Paraguayan capital. He recently said he would seek to suspend Venezuela from the South American block over its government’s jailing of opposition leaders. But that’s no longer likely because President Nicolas Maduro’s government respected the results of Venezuela’s Dec. 6 congressional elections.

Mercosur members say that the suspension would only have been in order if Venezuela had not accepted the vote results and broken the group’s so-called “democratic clause,” which says a member country can be sanctioned if it has “broken the democratic order.”

“Venezuela’s government must work toward achieving a true culture of democracy for our region,” Macri said during the meeting in Asuncion. “There’s no room for persecution based on ideological reasons or for thinking differently.”

To emphasize his commitment to the cause, Macri took a picture on the night he was elected president on Nov. 22 with Lilian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader in Venezuela jailed early last year.

Venezuela became a full member of the South American bloc in 2012 in an effort to link the region’s most powerful agricultural and energy markets.

Maduro is absent from the group’s meeting, but Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez defended her country’s socialist government and accused Macri of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

“Macri is defending the political violence of 2014, when (opposition demonstrators) used bazookas, set the public ministry on fire,” Rodriguez said of protests last year in Venezuela, in which several dozen people died.

In a heated retort, Rodriguez also said Macri had freed criminals who were responsible for torture and murders during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorria later said the information provided by her Venezuelan counterpart was wrong. She said Macri has not proposed an amnesty of dictatorship-era human rights abusers or agreed to their release.

During the Mercosur meeting, Paraguay proposed reviving a protocol that would oversee that human rights are respected by its member states. The bloc’s final statement after the meeting encouraged Venezuela to join the other countries that have already signed the agreement.

The economies of the Mercosur members have been badly hit by a slowdown in China which has decreased the Asian giant’s demand for the region’s commodities. The International Monetary Fund expects that Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, will shrink 3 percent in 2015. The IMF forecasts that Argentina will grow just 0.4 percent this year and contract 0.7 percent in 2016.

“To defend ourselves from the global economic crisis we have to strengthen our internal markets. We can guarantee the region’s economic growth through greater integration,” said Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Argentina has been criticized by Brazil and others for its protectionist policies. But Argentina’s foreign minister said Mercosur members praised her country’s recent decision to lift distortive policies such as heavy foreign exchange controls enacted by the previous administration.

Macri’s government put an end on the unpopular restrictions on buying U.S. dollars last week that made it difficult for businesses to operate and spawned a booming black market for greenbacks.

The decision, combined with the recent lifting of export taxes on many agricultural products, will expose Latin America’s third-largest economy to international market forces in ways not seen in over a decade.

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By Jim Wyss
December 21, 2015

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -Argentine President Mauricio Macri used his first appearance abroad since winning election to take Venezuela to task over the quality of its democracy and human rights record.

On Monday, during a Mercosur conference in Asunción, Paraguay, Macri asked for the “swift liberation of all the political prisoners in Venezuela.”

“Within the Mercosur countries there is no room for political persecution for ideological reasons or the illegal detention of those who think differently,” he added.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez shot back, saying Argentina shouldn’t meddle in sovereign affairs and that the people that Macri considers political prisoners had been detained for inciting violence during national protests in 2014.

She also defended Venezuela’s human rights record.

“There’s not a country in the world that has social programs like Venezuela, despite the media, financial, commercial and economic attacks our people are facing,” she said.

Macri won Argentina’s presidency last month, putting an end to more than a decade of Kirchnerismo, which had allied the nation with Venezuela. Shortly after his election he’d threatened to expel Venezuela from the Mercosur, but softened his position after that nation’s opposition won a landslide congressional victory early this month.

The leaders of Mercosur — Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela — were expected to talk about jump-starting a languishing trade deal with the European Union and increasing ties with the Pacific Alliance countries, which include Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.

But the potential Venezuela-Argentina showdown was generating most of the buzz around the meeting.

Venezuela’s opposition claims more than 70 people are under arrest for political reasons. The government blames many of them (including former presidential candidate Leopoldo López) for inciting violence during national protests over the economy and crime.

The opposition has said that freeing those detainees will be one of its top priorities when the new legislative session begins Jan. 5.

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By Charlie Devereux
December 21, 2015

* Mercosur shouldn’t tolerate political persecutions, Macri says
* Venezuelan minister says new president is defending violence

Argentine President Mauricio Macri, in his first trip abroad since assuming office, inserted himself into an international dispute by calling for the release of prisoners in Venezuela that human rights groups say are being held for political reasons.

Speaking at the Mercosur summit in Asuncion, Paraguay, Macri called on Venezuela to respect its citizens’ democratic rights. The move came 11 days after Macri took office and two weeks after Venezuela’s opposition won control of congress for the first time since 1999. Opposition lawmakers have said one of their priorities is freeing prisoners including Leopoldo Lopez, the former mayor of a district of Caracas who they say was unjustly imprisoned.

“I want to expressly call on all the presidents of the members states of Mercosur for the swift liberation of political prisoners in Venezuela,” Macri said. “In Mercosur, we can’t allow political persecution for ideological reasons or illegitimate imprisonment for thinking differently.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, standing in for President Nicolas Maduro, accused Macri of double standards and said he was defending the violent perpetrators of protests last year that left at least 43 people dead.

Venezuela Reaction

“You are meddling in Venezuela’s affairs. You are defending this political violence,” Rodriguez said, holding up a photo of a man wielding a bazooka that she said was an opposition protester.

While the governments of Brazil and Argentina insisted after a meeting between Macri and President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia on Dec. 4 that their positions on Venezuela are similar, Rousseff on Monday was more cautious than Macri. She didn’t mention political prisoners and, instead, congratulated Maduro for the democratic nature of the legislative elections carried out Dec. 6.

In a closing statement, Mercosur called on all its member states to adhere to a 2005 protocol on human rights. Venezuela is the only member of the bloc that hasn’t yet signed up.

On the economic front, Macri urged Mercosur, whose founding members were Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, to modernize and accelerate a long-delayed effort to sign a trade deal with the European Union. He also thanked members of the trade bloc for their support in backing Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands.

Mercosur’s closing statement made no specific mention of the EU accord, though it did call for a meeting to discuss improving relations with the Pacific Alliance, a trade bloc comprised of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.

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By Carolina Millan
December 21, 2015

* Caputo and Quintana met with mediator in New York on Monday
* Macri has said he intends to reach settlement with creditors

Argentina’s new government is planning to begin “substantive” talks with disgruntled creditors left over from the country’s decade-old debt dispute in early January, according to court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack.

Pollack said that he met Argentine Finance Secretary Luis Caputo and cabinet-vice chief Mario Quintana for an hour Monday, according to an e-mailed statement.

“The meeting was constructive, covering a range of issues, and it was agreed that they will return to New York City in the second week of January to commence substantive negotiations with the bondholders,” Pollack said in the statement.

Mauricio Macri’s presidency is expected to mark a turning point in the debt saga that has kept Argentina ostracized from international capital markets since 2001 as he seeks a settlement. Macri named former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker Alfonso Prat-Gay as his finance minister, who in turn tapped the 50-year-old Caputo, a former head of Deutsche Bank AG in Buenos Aires, to oversee the holdout debt issue and review financing options.

“We want the negotiations that are coming to be as quick as possible but also as tough as possible,” Prat-Gay said at his swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 11.

Argentina defaulted for a second time last year after then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner refused to abide by a U.S. court order to repay the creditors.

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By Carolina Millan
December 21, 2015

* Currency rebounds after plunging as much as 30% on Thursday
* Importers holding off on purchases as they await new rules

Argentina’s peso climbed for a second day after Thursday’s devaluation as grain exporters bring dollars to the country while importers held off on purchases of greenbacks as they awaited the implementation of new rules for accessing the market.

The peso rallied 3.8 percent to 12.76 pesos per dollar at 2:22 p.m. on the MAE electronic platform in Buenos Aires, rebounding from a tumble of as much as 30 percent Thursday after newly elected President Mauricio Macri lifted currency controls as part of a pledge to kick start economic growth by implementing free-market policies.

The peso is gaining because farmers, who had withheld crops in stored bags as they waited for a better exchange rate, have sold their goods while importers aren’t using the market, according to Alejo Costa, the head of research at brokerage Puento Hnos Sociedad de Bolsa SA. This is leading to an oversupply of dollars among traders.

“The flows are limited on the demand side,” Costa said from Buenos Aires. “There isn’t an idea on where the exchange would be if everything was operating freely.”

A new system of automatic approval for imports announced by Macri isn’t yet “well-oiled,” Costa said. In addition, several large importers aren’t participating in the currency markets because they plan to purchase a bond announced by the Finance Ministry late Friday, he said. The sale would give importers a way to access dollars to send overseas.

A lack of dollar demand from individuals who are spending their free cash on Christmas gifts is also skewing the exchange rate, Costa said. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government had installed monthly limits to how many greenbacks individuals could buy for savings or tourism, leading to the emergence of a black-market for dollars to cope with the pent-up demand.

“The risk now is that this is generating an undershooting of the peso,” Costa said.

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By Tariro Mzezewa, Nate Raymond and Nicolás Misculin
Dec 21, 2015

Dec 21 Argentina’s new government and holdout bondholders are to meet in the second week of January to start “substantive” talks toward settling a more than decade-old sovereign debt dispute, the U.S. court-appointed mediator said on Monday.

The talks would mark a major breakthrough in the dispute, which has caused Argentina to be shut out of the international capital markets and encouraged the prior governments of both Cristina Fernandez and Nestor Kirchner to adopt unorthodox economic policies.

Mauricio Macri, the first non-Peronist president in more than a decade, was sworn into office on Dec. 10. He has moved to start reversing some of the populist policies of the prior governments and said it was a priority to settle the debt issue.

Daniel Pollack, a New York lawyer who is the mediator, said in a statement that he met for about one hour on Monday in his office with Argentina’s newly installed finance secretary, Luis Caputo, and the vice chief of the cabinet, Mario Quintana.

“The meeting was constructive, covering a range of issues, and it was agreed that they will return to New York City in the second week of January to commence substantive negotiations with the Bondholders,” Pollack said in a statement released through his law firm, McCarter & English.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, who has long overseen the litigation, urged in a hearing last Thursday that Argentina and its creditors resolve the dispute stemming from the $100 billion default on sovereign bonds in early 2002. The case is being heard in the United States because the bonds were issued under U.S. law.

“The government will start negotiating now and once they have the blueprint of a deal it will be brought to Congress. It should all be settled by the middle of the year,” said Senate leader Federico Pinedo, who is a close ally of Macri.

Pinedo said there a chance that Congress will be presented with the outline of a deal as soon as next month.

“It may happen that the president decides to raise it in a special in January or February. That would be doable,” Pinedo said.
Holdout investors led by Elliott Management’s NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius Capital Management have a judgment in their favor of $1.33 billion, plus interest, which has brought their total closer to $2 billion, sources with direct knowledge of the situation say.

A spokesman for Elliott declined to comment on Monday’s statement. A representative for Aurelius was not immediately available.

Monday’s meeting between Caputo and Pollack was the second since the new Argentine government took office.
Caputo, shaking his head, did not answer any questions upon entering Pollack’s office building via a side entrance on Monday. He and Quintana were not seen leaving by a small handful of reporters and photographers who were waiting outside Pollack’s office.

Solving the sovereign debt dispute between Argentina and investors, who rejected two prior restructurings in 2005 and 2010, is seen as critical to getting the Latin American nation’s economy on a more stable growth path.

Pollack has said the total amount of debt held by bondholders with judgments against Argentina is approximately $10 billion. These judgments are based upon the principal of equal treatment, referred to in the bond agreement document as the pari passu clause.

In addition to NML and Aurelius, bondholders who did not participate in prior restructurings filed “me too” claims before Griesa on the same pari passu principle and were recognized by the court in October.

Over the course of the two restructurings, 92 percent of bondholders accepted the terms offered by Argentina, which left them on the whole being paid less than 30 cents on the dollar.

Argentina defaulted again in July 2014 after it refused to honor Griesa’s order to pay NML and Aurelius at the same time it paid these bondholders their principal and interest.

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By Sarah Marsh and Jorge Otaola
Dec 21, 2015

Argentina’s new President Mauricio Macri said on Monday that the country’s poorest families would receive a cash handout over the Christmas holiday to compensate for an increase in prices after a near 30 percent devaluation of the peso last week.

Since taking office 10 days ago, the free markets advocate has already fulfilled many of his campaign pledges to cut export taxes, lift capital controls and float the peso in a bid to improve Argentina’s competitiveness.

Critics have said Macri is helping big business at the expense of the poor as the measures will immediately benefit exporters operating in the grains powerhouse while fuelling inflation, thereby hurting consumers, especially those with low incomes.

“We have noted some prices of basic goods creeping up, which is why …. we have decided on this contribution of 400 pesos while we work with businesses and unions so that this transition is as orderly possible” Macri said at a news conference.
Around 8 million people will receive the aid by the end of next week. It will cost public coffers around 3.300 billion pesos (US$257 million).

Economists have said Macri’s measures will likely cause Latin America’s third largest economy to contract at the start of next year, as the devaluation fuels inflation already running at around 25 percent and affects private consumption.

But if the government manages to put a lid on price increases, the economy should return to growth by the end of 2016 as exports increase and investment starts flooding in, and expand strongly in 2017.
Alejo Puente, chief strategist at local investment bank Puente, said he expected inflation to accelerate to around 4 percent over the coming months from 1.9 percent monthly now, reaching an annual rate of around 34 percent in February.

The big challenge will be getting Argentina’s mighty unions to agree on hikes more in line with projected full-year inflation than the inflation at the start of the year. Wage talks are scheduled for March. Macri looks set to use a possible reduction in the number of workers paying income tax as a bargaining chip in negotiations.
Macri said the finance ministry was also working on issuing a new bill worth more than 100 pesos, which is the highest denomination note in Argentina and worth 7.8 U.S. dollars.

The peso closed on Monday at 12.85 per dollar. It is now 23.5 percent weaker than before Macri floated it last Thursday, after initially losing nearly 30 percent in value.

Macri’s predecessor Cristina Fernandez used to prop up the peso with central bank reserves.

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By Reynolds Holding and Martin Langfield
December 21, 2015

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Argentina and Elliott Management will finally give peace a chance in 2016. There may never be a better time for Latin America’s third-largest economy and Paul Singer’s hedge fund to end a 14-year standoff over defaulted bonds. New President Mauricio Macri needs access to global credit markets to implement his economic plan, and another defiant Peronist like predecessor Cristina Fernandez could take over if he fails.

An Elliott affiliate has sought repayment of the bonds since Argentina’s 2001 default. It and other investors refused to swap them for discounted debt in 2005 and 2010, and in 2012 won a court order saying creditors that accepted the exchange could not be paid first. Argentina protested mightily, even appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but to no avail.

Obstinance has come at a high price. The nation faces double-digit inflation, dwindling foreign reserves and a gaping fiscal deficit. The economy will grow just 0.4 percent this year and shrink 0.7 percent in 2016, the International Monetary Fund forecast in October. A settlement with the holdouts, owed up to $15 billion, could reopen sources of foreign capital and help reboot growth.

A resolution is far less urgent for Elliott, considering its total sovereign debt holdings are less than 2 percent of its more than $27 billion of assets under management. Yet the expense of battling for repayment is mounting, and the firm is eager for a return on its investment.

Fernandez called the holdout bondholders “vultures.” But just before his Dec. 10 inauguration, Macri sent an emissary to meet the court-appointed mediator in the dispute. Though the shape of any deal is unclear, it would surely exceed the less than 30 cents on the dollar offered in the 2010 exchange.

The trick for Macri will be getting any deal through a left-leaning Congress, where he might be able to bargain, among others, with pragmatic Peronists not loyal to Fernandez. If the new president can’t fix the economy, his administration could quickly founder. A far less amenable counterparty might then succeed him – maybe even Fernandez herself, who could try to return in 2019. That alone should persuade Elliott and Argentina that further stalemate is pointless.

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By Daniela Desantis
Dec 21, 2015

ASUNCION, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Argentine President Mauricio Macri started his second week in office by asking regional trade bloc Mercosur to back his appeal for the freedom of jailed opposition leaders in Venezuela.

The center-right Macri won the presidency last month promising free-market solutions to Argentina’s long list of economic problems. He spoke during his election campaign about suspending Venezuela from Mercosur until the jailed politicians are freed.

“I ask for the prompt liberation of political prisoners in Venezuela,” Macri said in addressing a Mercosur meeting on Monday in the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro did not attend the meeting. But Venezuela’s representative in Asuncion, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, told Macri to back off.

“You are meddling in Venezuela’s affairs,” she said.

This month Venezuela’s opposition took two-thirds of the legislature’s 167 seats in a landslide victory driven by anger over the country’s prolonged economic crisis. It will hold a congressional majority for the first time since Maduro’s mentor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, rose to power in 1999.

The opposition has said the first priority for the new Congress will be an amnesty for the release of jailed opposition leaders, many of whom were jailed for their involvement in anti-government protests in 2014.

The United States, the United Nations, the European Union and others have increasingly pressured Maduro over jailed opposition leaders, particularly hard-liner Leopoldo Lopez who was convicted of fomenting 2014 protests that led to 43 deaths.

During the campaign Macri said Venezuela should be suspended from Mercosur, citing a clause in the bloc’s charter that seeks to punish anti-democratic governments with isolation from the group. He backtracked for the comments after Maduro recognized the opposition’s win in the legislative election.

Macri, meanwhile, faces tough economic challenges at home, including low central bank reserves, double-digit inflation and a sovereign bond default left by Argentina’s previous leader, Cristina Fernandez.

Macri let the Argentine peso float for the first time in years last week. It was the first test of his market-friendly policies after eight years of Fernandez, who believed in strong state control of the economy.

The Argentine currency strengthened 4.08 percent to 12.73 per U.S. dollar on Monday, after the lifting of capital controls on Thursday sparked a devaluation of more than 26.5 percent.

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December 21, 2015

Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s call here Monday at the start of a Mercosur summit for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela provoked an angry response from the Venezuelan foreign minister

“You are interfering in Venezuelan matters,” said Delci Rodriguez, who is representing President Nicolas Maduro at the Mercosur summit of heads of state.

She also accused Madro of defending “this political violence,” as she showed photos of armed people, including a man with a bazooka, which she said had been taken during the “peaceful demonstrations” in Venezuela in 2014.

“These are the peaceful protests of 2014, for those who have not seen … They burned the Attorney General’s Office, they burned essential public services, they attacked Venezuelans’ access to food, education, 19 universities were burned,” Rodriguez said.

“I want to expressly ask here before the Mercosur member heads of state for the quick release of political prisoners in Venezuela, because in the states that are party (to Mercosur) there can be no place for political persecution for ideological reasons or for different thinking,” Macri said in his opening remarks at the summit.

The leading political prisoner is Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader sentenced to 14 years behind bars on charges he instigated the violence that marred the anti-government protests in 2014.

“If we’re going to talk about human rights, we’re going to talk sincerely, we’re on the front rank for this debate,” said the Venezuelan foreign minister in her address.

“I understand that Macri wants to ask for the release of these violent people. I know it because one of his first announcements was to release those responsible for torture in the (1976-1983 Argentine military) dictatorship,” she said.

Macri, the conservative scion of a prominent family of industrialists, took office in Argentina Dec. 10.

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By Mohamed A. El-Erian
21 December 2015

Last week, the government of newly elected Argentine President Mauricio Macri launched a bold plan to revitalize a bruised and beleaguered economy plagued by high inflation. At a time of daunting crisis conditions, one should not underestimate the importance of this move not just for Argentina, but also for other countries, where leaders are watching closely for clues about how to deal with their own economic woes.

Thanks to years of economic mismanagement, Argentina’s economy has been badly underperforming for decades. Previous governments sought to avoid difficult policy choices and obfuscate fundamental issues by implementing inefficient controls that grossly misallocated resources and undermined Argentina’s ability to generate the foreign-exchange earnings needed to cover its import bill, resulting in domestic shortages.

The recent drop in commodity prices has exacerbated the situation, depleting what little growth dynamism the economy had left, while fueling inflation, deepening poverty, and spreading economic insecurity and financial instability.

In theory, governments in such a situation have five basic options to contain crisis conditions, pending the effects of measures to reinvigorate growth and employment engines.

• Run down the financial reserves and wealth that were accumulated when the economy was doing better.

• Borrow from foreign and domestic lenders.

• Cut public-sector spending directly, while creating incentives to induce lower private-sector expenditure.

• Generate revenues through higher taxes and fees, and earn more from abroad.

• Use the price mechanism to accelerate adjustments throughout the economy, as well as in trade and financial interactions with other countries.

Through careful design and sequencing, these five measures can help not only to deal with immediate economic and financial problems, but also to create the conditions for higher growth, job creation, and financial stability in the longer term. In this manner, they can contain the spread of economic hardship among the population, protect the most vulnerable segments, and put future generations on a better footing.

In practice, however, governments often face complications that undermine effective implementation of these measures. If policy makers are not careful, two problems, in particular, can reinforce each other, potentially pushing the economy over the precipice.

The first problem arises when specific factors, real or perceived, block some options from the adjustment menu. Some measures may already have been exhausted: the country may not have any wealth or reserves left to tap, and there may be a shortage of willing lenders. Other measures, such as fiscal adjustment, must be implemented very carefully, in order to avoid torpedoing the growth objective.

The second problem is timing, with governments struggling to ensure that the measures take effect in the right sequence. Effective implementation requires understanding key features of economic and financial interactions, including not just feedback effects, but also the behavioral aspects of private-sector responses. And all of this must be closely coordinated with the pursuit of supply-side reforms that promote robust, durable, and inclusive growth.

Here is where the Macri government’s approach is an historical exception.

Macri took over the presidency with a bang, launching an audacious — and highly risky — strategy that places aggressive price liberalization and the removal of quantitative controls front and center, ahead of the five measures relating to demand management and financial assistance.

Already, most export taxes and currency controls have been scrapped, income taxes have been cut, and the exchange rate has been freed up, allowing for an immediate 30% depreciation of the peso.

Historically, few governments have pursued this type of sequencing, much less with such fervor; indeed, most governments have hesitated, especially when it comes to full currency liberalization. When governments have taken similar steps, they usually have done so after — or at least alongside — the provision of financial injections and efforts to restrain demand.

The reason is clear: by taking time to set the stage for liberalization, governments hoped to limit the initial spike in price inflation, thereby avoiding a wage-price spiral and curbing capital flight. They worried that, if these problems emerged, they would derail reform measures and erode the public support needed to press on.

To revive the Argentine economy in a durable and inclusive manner, Macri’s government needs to act fast to mobilize sizeable external financial assistance, generate additional domestic resources, and implement deeper structural reforms. If it does, Argentina’s bold economic strategy will become a model for other countries, both now and in the future.

But if the approach falters — whether because of incorrect sequencing or a surge of popular dissatisfaction — other countries will become even more hesitant to lift controls and fully liberalize their currencies. The resulting policy confusion would be bad for everyone.

Project Syndicate; Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz and a member of its international executive committee, is chairman of President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council. He previously served as CEO and co-chief investment officer of PIMCO.

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21 December 2015

Argentina and its creditors will begin “substantive” negotiations in the second week of January, says Daniel Pollack, the US district court appointee charged with overseeing negotiations with creditors owed $10B in judgments against the country. Bond markets have been expecting an end to the long-standing feud now that a new president is in place in Argentina. Mauricio Macri has been quick to begin unwinding the economic policies of his predecessor, beginning last week with the lifting of capital controls on the peso.

Partnering with Civil Society in the Pursuit of Human Rights !
State Dept Human Rights Officer – Wesley Reisser deservedly awarded
the UNA-NCA Tex Harris Diplomacy Award for 2015

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sólo el 14% de la gente quiere a Cristina Kirchner presa

23 diciembre, 2015

SCIOLI ¿peor que Macri?

22 diciembre, 2015


El populismo terminará cuando  Cristina deje la Presidencia, ya que el Poder estará repartido entre nuevos exitosos políticos,  encabezados por quien surja nuevo Presidente,  – Scioli, Macri o Massa –  en octubre próximo, o poco después si hay balotaje.

Quizás estos tres ciudadanos argentinos tienen algo en común: ser también ciudadanos italianos, ya que uno  es nieto y los otros dos hijos de padres  nacidos en Italia. Algo similar pasó con el peruano presidente Fujimori, quien resultó ser ciudadano japones no extraditable cuando Perú intentó procesarlo. Afortunadamente, nuestros tres candidatos no parecen haber cometido graves delitos, y nada hace suponer que lo hagan. O que tengan impunidad para hacerlo.


Hemos desde este blog criticado a Scioli cuando Cristina Presidenta lo castigaba y  despreciaba, al punto de no entregar a LA PROVINCIA DE BUENOS AIRES las gruesas sumas que  el Estado Nacional  aun  le  debe  Quizás el Gobernador no se animó a exigirle el…

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22 diciembre, 2015

















       Los argentinos estamos en el  “ojo del Huracán” , al cual fuimos llevados por la curiosa concepción DIRIGISTA Y ANTIDEMOCRÁTICA del duo de cordobeses que nos gobierna, los doctores Cavallo y De la Rua.

       Esta vez, analizaré al problema desde el exclusivo angulo de la concepción que ambos tienen sobre la MONEDA, ese elemento imprescindible para que una sociedad civilizada pueda ponerse DE ACUERDO…

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22 diciembre, 2015


El famoso Juez Griesa, de Nueva York,  desde hace tiempo abocado a los reclamos de los fondos buitres, tenia planteado el tema sobre si el Banco Central es dependiente del Estado Argentino, o simplemente, una entidad bancaria autonoma diferente, que no pertenece a dicho Estado. En el primer caso, sus fondos serian embargables, en el segundo, no. Y los abogados de Argentina en Nueva York han hecho esfuerzos enormes para sostener que no hay dependencia, o sea, que los fondos de dicha entidad serian inembargables. Creo hasta Boudou lo habria dicho, ademas de otros ministros de economia, y esa seria la posicion oficial tanto del Banco, como del Estado Argentino.

Las noticias en torno a la forma en que dicho banco es manipulado por el Presidente de turno, no es noticia, y desde este blog veiamos indefendible la posicion de nuestro Estado Ladron, pero como por la boca muere el…

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