Argentine President Fernández sticks to restrictive measures and clashes with Buenos Aires mayor — MercoPress

Argentine President Fernández sticks to restrictive measures and clashes with Buenos Aires mayor

Saturday, April 17th 2021 – 12:20 UTC

Rodríguez Larreta needs to bring his case to the Supreme Court after talks with President Fernandez not to shut down schools fail.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández Friday stood by his decision to shut down all schools for two weeks, among other restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 infections.

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta met with Fernández in a last-minute political effort to spare the nation’s capital schools from that prohibition, because it is believed classes are not a big source of contagion and, in fact, having observed all precautionary protocols and monitoring, it is one of the places where cases have been rarer.

In addition to that, 13 governors nationwide have declined the presidential request to enact similar measures in their respective provinces. But Fernandez’ decision was mandatory for the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).

Buenos Aires City government sources, as well as municipalities within AMBA, have filed petitions before the Judiciary to declare Fernandez’ decree unconstitutional because banning circulation of people is against the country’s Carta Magna and is permitted only after the State of Siege has been declared by Congress, which puts it beyond the President’s prerogatives.

Fernandez’ ban being for only two weeks, judiciary experts were sceptical a decision would be delivered soon enough to reverse the present situation. But it might prevent it from going beyond the April 30 deadline.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had criticized Fernández for imposing an 8 pm to 6 am curfew, but the Argentine leader downplayed those allegations saying his stay-at-home orders were not a curfew, thus clinging to a narrative that does not match reality.

Fernández’ measures have meant further economic hardships to businesses such as restaurants that can no longer welcome guests over for dinner. And workers who leave their jobs after 6 pm and needed to commute jammed the city’s main transport hubs Friday, making up crowds that were exactly what health experts have recommended against.

After a 100-minute meeting that led nowhere, Fernández explained that “we all want to return to educational presence as soon as possible. I also explained that all the scientific data show that the problem does not occur in schools, but that behind the [pupils’] presence a whole social movement is generated which greatly increases citizen circulation.”

He added that “it is evident that we have a really worrying number of [hospital] beds in town, not only due to Covid issues but also due to other pathologies, which use up a significant number of beds,” particularly by a growing number of patients aged between 9 and 19.

Fernández said he was “disappointed” at Rodríguez Larreta’s being “unfair and ungrateful” for not understanding the scope of the current crisis. And some analysts have pointed out Larreta had requested this meeting with the President just for his own political gain, trying to win over the anti lockdown voters.

Rodríguez Larreta insisted schools were not a source of contagion and that pupils “are not infected on the way to school either,” as he filed his case before the Federal Supreme Court.

“I said that I was going to do everything possible to guarantee on-site schooling and I am going to fulfil that responsibility,” said Rodríguez Larreta, who nevertheless highlighted the importance of having a president who is willing to talk things over. “I am convinced that dialogue is essential at this time of anguish and uncertainty in which society demands from us, more than ever, a great responsibility when managing the pandemic. ”

But he insisted ”a pandemic like the one we are experiencing does not admit that a President and head of Government (mayor) do not take measures in a coordinated manner.”

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