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Buenos Aires News: Edition 9

I’ve decided to bring back the Buenos Aires News postings that I had previously been doing. I know it’s been awhile since Edition 8, but look for them to come more regularly now.

If you want up-to-the-minute Buenos Aires updates, follow the Buenos Aires Life Twitter account.

Can Argentina’s Diego Maradona work his magic? [Miami Herald]
Argentina’s World Cup hopes are riding on whether volatile coachDiego Maradona can work the same kind of magic he did as a player.

Messi, the surest bet to shine in South Africa [The Globe and Mail]
The Argentine star could set the world alight – if he survives Maradona’s madness.

Ugi’s PIzza Inflation Index [Buenos Aires Photographer]
The Argentine government continues to under-report the true level of inflation in Buenos Aires.  This blogger took matters into his own hands by reporting how much the cost of pizza at his favorite pizza place has gone up since the year 2000.

In Buenos Aires, tourists charged the same as locals [ToursHelp]
An older article, but interesting in that it recounts that the Buenos Aires tour bus was charging different prices for locals than for tourists. A consumer advocacy group complained, and now the price is the same – a higher $70 pesos for all.  Obviously, this means locals can pretty much no longer afford to take the bus ride. So, was justice done?

More American expatriates give up citizenship [NY Times]
Another older article, that is also interesting. “Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.”

Sleep-in journalists aim to save newspaper [guardian.co.uk]
Journalists fighting to block the shutdown of the Argentine newspaper Crítica have been on strike since 29 April, when they received no pay cheques.

Per capita beef consumption drops to 56 kilos [The Argentine Post]
Argentine beef consumption has dropped from 70.3 kilos to 56.3 kilos in the first half of this year due to smaller supply and increased prices.

Domestic plane tickets hiked 15% [Buenos Aires Herald]
Plane tickets on domestic flights to all 30 destinations in Argentina went up by an average of 15 percent this past week.

The group of 10 Argentine soccer hooligans with criminal records deported from South Africa were greeted by police and news crews, and some were taken into custody.
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Buenos Aires News: Edition 6

20% Of Kids Say It’s Ok To Pay Bribes [Argentine Post]
The Argentine Post has an interesting summary of a survey by the Argentine education ministry conducted on public school students aged 11-15.  20% of the students surveyed say it’s sometimes or always ok to pay a bribe while 30% say it’s ok to avoid paying taxes. Check out the article for other interesting details.

Argentina Strikes Give Travelers Holiday Headache [Bloomberg]
Subway workers in Argentina walked off their jobs today, disrupting travel for as many as one million commuters as employee demands for increased pay and job security disrupt banks, taxi service and the holiday season. Gas station owners and about 140,000 bank workers plan to stop work next week. Cab drivers are threatening to stay off the roads Dec. 24 and 25, when many residents will try to shuttle between holiday parties.

Human remains found in Argentine detention center [Associated Press]
Inside a once-secret detention center where political dissidents were tortured and killed during Argentina’s dictatorship 25 years ago, forensic anthropologists have discovered a pit containing 10,000 bone fragments.  The first discovery of human remains inside a detention center confirms the testimonies of hundreds of survivors who have said for years that authorities tortured, killed and burned the bodies of political opponents, they said Tuesday…

Argentine lower house passes questioned tax breaks [Reuters]
Argentina’s lower house passed early on Thursday a package of tax breaks that the administration hopes will stimulate the economy but critics say could encourage money laundering instead.The law includes huge tax cuts on undeclared offshore funds that are repatriated, tax incentives for companies that put under-the-table workers on the books, and deals for tax evaders who sign up for payment plans.

Argentina’s Buenos Aires Scrooges Forced to Rescind Ban on Christmas Carolers [LAHT]
The decision by the government of Buenos Aires this year not to authorize the tradition of caroling in the street on Thursday sparked a heated controversy among defenders of the Christmas spirit which eventually was settled by the revocation of the measure.

Argentina looks to taxis to get economy moving [AP]
Argentina’s government hopes 15,000 new taxis will help get the economy moving. President Cristina Fernandez says the government will offer taxi drivers credits on half the value of a taxi at a below-market interest rate of 11 percent It’s part of a series of programs to boost production and ease credit in South America’s second largest economy.

Going pinker on the Plata – Gay Tourism in Buenos Aires [Economist]
Gay tourists have flocked to Buenos Aires since Argentina’s 2002 currency devaluation made it one of the world’s most affordable destinations. Tourism officials reckon that at least a fifth of foreign visitors to the city are gay.

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Buenos Aires News: Edition 5

Fires Burn Over 1,200 Acres In Argentina [LAHT]
A state of emergency has been declared in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, where more than 500 hectares (1,234 acres) of forest have been scorched by several fires, forcing the evacuation of dozens of people, officials said Sunday.

Argentine automakers to sell at cost, protect jobs [Reuters]
Argentine automakers will sell basic models at cost through state-subsidized loans in a plan to protect jobs in Latin America’s third-biggest economy from the global economic slowdown. Local plants of Renault SA, General Motors, Peugeot, Ford Motor Co. and other automakers will participate in the government’s plan to protect 150,000 auto industry jobs and to keep production from falling steeply next year.  Now this is an interesting idea!

Argentine Unions Want Floor for Peso Devaluation [Bloomberg]
Argentina’s union leaders want the government to put a limit on the peso’s devaluation, claiming that a softer currency will fuel inflation and undermine workers’ buying power.

Madge blows $1 million in hotel bill [The Times of India]
Madonna reportedly shelled out a million dollars on the Four Seasons hotel in Buenos Aires after she and her crew checked out from its posh premises. The megastar blew an alleged 9,000 dollars per night to stay at the hotel’s private mansion while her 200 backing dancers, singers, make-up artists, choreographers, managers and security checked into another 110 rooms – costing at least 600 dollars each.  Now, I know where at least part of my ticket money went!

Argentina Gun Swap Wildly Successful [IPS]
As a disarmament campaign launched 17 months ago in Argentina nears its end, the government and civil society groups involved in the initiative announced that it has far exceeded even the most optimistic projections, despite the lack of publicity.  The Interior Ministry reported that the programme, in which people voluntarily swap their firearms for cash, has so far collected over 102,000 guns and 721,000 munitions, all of which were destroyed.

Why Have So Many Restaurants Closed in Buenos Aires?  (english version) [La Nacion]
An interesting read, about the closure and pending closures of almost 300 restaurants in Buenos Aires due to the economic crisis. Many of these restaurants had relied on the tourist market and thus increased prices so significantly that they lost the locals. It will be intersting to see if the new visa tax that goes into effect on January 1 will cause a further decline in tourism and what the fallout will be.

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Anxious Argentines tighten their purse strings

It seems that a lot of the news these days is focused on the ongoing farmer’s strike in Buenos Aires and it’s effect on consumer confidence. Guardian.co.uk is reporting on Argentines putting the brakes on spending due to rising inflation, the continued dispute with farmers and lack of confidence in the president. Many sources dispute the government’s numbers on inflation and suspect the real numbers to be much higher. Argentines also seem to be wary of the possibility of another financial crisis with many of them reported to be putting their money into US dollars.

There is no doubt that the 3-to-1 peso to dollar ratio was a strong consideration in my decision to move to Buenos Aires. Coming from NYC, the cost of living is considerably lower and my savings alone should be enough to support me for at least a year. While things may not be as cheap as they were immediately following the 2001 crash, for a New Yorker, things are still very cheap.  While I do not fully understand what effect these latest crises may have on the local economy, I’ll do my best to keep on top of the news and detail my experiences once I get there.

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