May 7, 2021
1. President Fernández to begin tour of Europe
President Alberto Fernández will begin an official visit to Europe next week, where he will meet with Italian and French dignitaries, and potentially stop in Spain as well. The itinerary also includes a visit to the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis. Fernández plans to concentrate on the deepening of bilateral relations, the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as ongoing negotiations with the IMF and the Paris Club during his state visits. The president will be accompanied by Economy Minister Martín Guzmán; Foreign Affairs Minister Felipe Solá; Secretary General of the Presidency Julio Vitobello and Press Secretary Juan Pablo Biondi.
2. Supreme Court rules in favor of the city of Buenos Aires in dispute over in-person classes
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city of Buenos Aires in the dispute the city had with the national government regarding the suspension of in-person classes ordered on April 14th by President Alberto Fernández in areas of high epidemiological and sanitary risk. The ruling by the magistrates consider that the Necessity and Urgency Decree 241/2021 violates the autonomy of the city of Buenos Aires, although it does not declare the decree unconstitutional, since it had expired last Friday. The judges’ ruling was divided into three opinions, one by Ricardo Lorenzetti, another by Carlos Rosenkrantz, and a third vote jointly by Juan Carlos Maqueda and Horacio Rosatti; Elena Highton de Nolasco, meanwhile, did not cast her vote because she considered that the case did not fall under the court’s purview.
3. Ruling coalition leaders show unity at an event
During the launch of the Reconstruir program, promoted by the Ministry of Territorial Development and Habitat, President Alberto Fernández appeared together with Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and other prominent leaders of the Frente de Todos coalition, such as the Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof; Chamber of Deputies President Sergio Massa; Chief of Staff Santiago Cafiero; and Interior Minister Enrique “Wado” de Pedro. This show of unity took place after differences of opinion between Economy Minister Martín Guzmán and Electric Energy Undersecretary Federico Basualdo, regarding the update of electric rates were made public. During his speech, President Fernández criticized the actions of the courts in connection with a ruling and an injunction granted by the court to Telecom Argentina, suspending the application of Decree 690 which declared mobile and fixed telephony, Internet and cable TV as public and essential services, freezing their rates.
4. Sinopharm vaccine to be developed in Argentina
Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturer Sinopharm announced that it has reached an agreement with Argentine laboratory Sinergium Biotech to begin weekly production of one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. The agreement involved not only the two companies, but also Chinese ambassador to Argentina, Zou Xiaoli; presidential advisor Cecilia Nicolini; and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti. Additionally, Vizzotti announced the mid-May arrival of 861,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca, a company with which Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta began talks to buy vaccines and unblock the shipment that had been agreed by the Argentine government a few months prior. Finally, Chancellor Felipe Solá welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s announcement for the exemption of patents on COVID-19 vaccines.
5. Alexis Guerrera takes charge of transportation ministry
On Monday morning, President Alberto Fernández swore in Alexis Guerrera, who took office as Minister of Transportation, replacing Mario Meoni, who passed away recently in an automobile accident. The new minister, who belongs to the Frente Renovador party, was until now president of Trenes Argentinos. After the inauguration, Guerrera referenced the situation of the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway and assured that it will not be nationalized, but that a bidding process will begin for the concession of the dredging and beaconing service. He also stated that his ministry’s immediate challenge is to follow the new sanitary measures limiting the movement of people to avoid the increase of COVID-19 infections.