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Children time

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Bosque Los ArrayanesVilla La Angostura is perhaps one of the prettiest destinations in Patagonia. Now, the community wants to celebrate Christmas in a magic way attracting families and specially children. For 10 days starting on December 15th, everyone has been getting ready for another issue of “Fiesta Magica de la Navidad”.

The goal is to make this destination a favorite spot for children in Christmas time, both local residents as well as those coming from out of town.

With scenic views and magic sights it is difficult to imagine what else can the community offer, however, much more will be in place from majestic concerts to family activities that will be offered for free. Even Santa Claus will pay the community a visit at the “Arrayanes Forest“. This event has been nominated as one having national repercusion by the “Administracion de Parques Nacionales”.

The planned schedule is as follows:

December 15th: Concert by the “Orquesta Sinfonica de Neuquen”.
December 16th: Concert of flutes at the Arrayanes location by the “Orquesta de Flautas de San Martin de los Andes”.
December 20th: Concert of Children Chorus by Youth singers of Bariloche.
December 21st: Concert by the “Orquesta Cofradia and Coro Juvenil Municipal de Bariloche”.

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Tourist alert: ATMs with no cash

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As has been happening for the last few years, Argentina has been the target of visitors from Brazil. Aided by the rate of exchange -the Real being so strong-, brazilians have been traveling all over Argentina in vast numbers. Not only merchandise has been flying from shelves at grocery stores and clothings stores. There is now a new item that visitors from other countries will not be able to find. This time inside ATM machines: CASH!

Starting today, automatic teller machines will be delivering again paper money that has just arrived from Brazil. Still, the Central Bank of Argentina issued a note stating that most likely only “Banco Nacion” will be able to supply the $100 pesos notes as there is no time to distribute them to all ATMs. As days go by, the whole 100 million “100 bills” that were ordered -10 billion pesos- will be placed in the machines.

Tourists from Brazil and abroad are welcoming the relief as many had to wait long lines for cash from the few machines that had any supply left. But here is an alert to anyone coming to visit: problems may persist for at least another 2 weeks as distribution to all areas of the city is somewhat complex. And the demand for cash has been on the rise as retirees will be withdrawing their pensions in cash and supply will have to cover the extra money being paid -as bonuses- at the end of the year.

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La Niña

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Crops in ArgentinaThere is recent indication that weather patterns stemming from “la niña” will be affecting negatively many argentine crops, namely soybeans and corn. Drought may extend to vast areas of the country and very likely estimated records crops for 2010/2011 at 100 million tons will not be achieved. Lack of rain has made farmers delay sowing numerous crops, in particular the ones mentioned earlier as dryness is affecting mostly the center region of the country. Nevertheless, the effects will not be as severe as those of 2008/2009 crop where output was 33% less than what was estimated at the time.

It is also estimated that most of Cuyo, the southern part of Cordoba and the west of Buenos Aires province will not be receiving rain for some time, as opposed to the NOA region, southeast of Buenos Aires and Chaco as well as north mesopotamia. These weather patterns are expected to stay in place till March and while yield would be reduced, farmers and agents might find compensation in the already higher grains prices which are in turn pricing potential argentine bad crops.

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Corruption in Argentina

A few weeks ago, one of the most watched political TV shows had as a guest Jorge Molina -a former director of Aerolineas Argentinas- as part of a segment on corruption in Argentina. Specifically, the segment was devoted to report a possible complex, widespread and sophisticated network of systemic corruption at a high level that has been operating methodically resembling the works of a mafia organization of sorts. During the interview by host Mariano Grondona, the interviewee stated that sometime around September 2007 right before elections, he was visited by Manuel Vázquez -a former assitant to Secretary of Transportation Ricardo Jaime- who requested “aid” for u$d 1.5 millions for the electoral campaign. Molina then described how he instead offered to contribute what was legally permitted by the “ley de partidos politicos”, a sum considerably smaller.

Succintly, Molina made clear that he was not only coerced into funding the official political campaign at the time but also threatened with roadblocks on his actions as manager of the company if he didn’t cooperate by making it easy for Aerolineas to engage in certain transactions of very large amounts, in which pressumably Vázquez et al. would have had a bite. Interestingly, right after Aerolineas Argentinas was nationalized, the company finalized the purchase of 20 embraer planes from Brazil. The same transaction Molina refused to greenlight, adding that prices set for buying the planes looked stretched in many ways.

Ever since the death of Nestor Kirchner many political figures with ties to the administration have been voicing the need to “profundizar el modelo”. That is, to complete the structural changes initiated by Nestor Kirchner… whatever that means. In reality, digging deeper is hard to find anyone that can precisely explain what is or even how to “further Kirchner’s vision for Argentina”. It is possible that the common person in the street would view this change as one where unions acquire even more power and a bigger piece of the cake just as Moyano has been declaring recently that it is time for argentines to have a “worker” in the Pink House. For yet another group of perhaps more sophisticated citizens, this furthering may entail even more widespread redistribution of income dangerously depleting any wealth left. But for the more savvy bunch, it could just be that what all this really means is pursuing a method of governing where the figure of the government is used to access and acquire power over both private (nationalizing) and public resources with the ultimate goal of manipulating existing structures to facilitate the channeling of funds to those in charge.

Molina’s tale seems to point in this direction as much as many of the recent emails that have been made public through the investigation of the Jaime/Vazquez affair. It may be that a leftist and radical government may find it easier to enrich its own comrades by the use of their special powers. Something that can be vastly more difficult to accomplish if free market forces that make competition and efficiency mandatory where the order of the day. Unfortunately, the average criollo will hardly be able to connect the dots when not even 5 judges working on these and other cases of corruption in official agencies may be able to bring any light or prove any wrongdoing.

Here goes a hope and a wish for Argentina’s bright future… and a new rising model.

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In Argentina, pigs fly

Here is a quickie for those tracking food prices in Argentina. Granted. There are probably vast differences in prices when shopping in select areas of the city compared to faraway places in the province. It is also very likely prices are heavily discounted when shopping in bundles, like in Macro stores or similar wholesale outfits. But this graphic can provide a reliable floor of what prices are for red meat in Argentina, being December even more expensive for staples such as ribeyes, new york strips, asado, flap meat, filet mignon, short ribs, skirt and other cuts. Find a currency converter here.

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