Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Last week in Argentina...

Both the Argentine and the Chilean governments were shocked, shocked! when chilean intelligence personnel was found copying classified documents from the Argentine consulate in Punta Arenas. This was treated by both countries as a "regrettable incident", while the chilean government expressed that the agents had been working independently, and dismissed two high-ranked military officers. In the end, the bilateral relationship doesn't seem to have been much damaged by these events, as both governments are probably more interested in trade issues than in this kind of random events (spies getting publicly exposed, I mean; that both countries direct intelligence operations against each other goes, I think, without saying).

President Kirchner admitted having received threats directed at him and his family, which government officers linked to his comments relating the chronic and politically explosive security problems in the Buenos Aires area to corruption or outright criminality in the Buenos Aires state police (the much-feared "Bonaerense"). Today, in what might be seen as another round of this fight, two top-ranked chiefs were displaced.

Argentina's GDP per capita is expected to grow by 10% next year. The number is roughly in agreement with other projections, although you might want to keep in mind that the company that made them was founded by the current minister of economy...

The government announced yesterday a rise on the minimum wage and retirement pay to $350 and $240 respectively (around U$D 120 and U$D 80/month), plus a $50 raise to certain private employees and the payment of the annual "aguinaldo" before this year's holidays. This is being financed by record tax receipts, based to a large measure in high soy prices and rising consumption from China. Of course, if China's demand were to slow down (as the Morgan-Stanley crowd fears) or soy prices fell for any other reason, the fiscal, social and political situation of Argentina could seriously deteriorate. The global market, alas, is a tricky place.

Finally, for those interested in soccer (pretty much the whole population of Latin America, it seems): tournment leader Boca Juniors beat by 2-0 arch-rival River Plate, prompting a political storm in the defeated club that almost, but not quite, lead to the dismissal of coach Pellegrini.


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