I just returned from 10 days in the U.S., so thisay not be news to any of you. But tonight, for the first time since I came to Argentina in 1995, a local bank charged me a $3 fee to withdraw cash from an overseas bank. The fee is in addition to whatever fees my bank charges in the U.S.
I withdrew the money from a “Link” network at a local branch of Banco de la Ciudad. I haven’t had a chance to test other banks or see if Banelco (Link’s competitor) is also charging a fee.
The fee would seem to be an easy way for local banks to make more money at the expense of foreigners. But it’s not year clear what the motivation behind the new fee is. According to Argentine Central Bank officials, ATM regulations here are largely determined not by the government but by just two private companies, Link and Banelco.
These companies are responsible for imposing what many people feel are unreasonably low limits on cash withdrawals from foreign banks. The limits, which vary from person to person and bank to bank, usually hover around 300 pesos per transaction. (The limits often confuse tourists accustomed to withdrawing much more cash, leaving them unable to pay for certain cash-only transactions.)
“We don’t have anything to do with imposing those limits,” a Central Bank official recently told me. “You need to talk with those companies to get more information.”
My transaction limit, for example, is a mere 370 pesos. Most visitors or foreign residents here can surpass the limits by taking out multiple transactions. But each one has its cost, and now that cost appears to have risen substantially. Link’s fee was almost exactly $3 (11.46 pesos as seen in the photo above), regardless of the amount withdrawn. When I tried to take out just 20 pesos, the fee was still $3.
Needless to say, the new fees will increase the cost of getting cash in Argentina. And needless to say, The Argentine Post will be contacting Link, Banelco and, again, the Central Bank, to figure out why this is happening.
If you’ve had any experiences with this, please post a comment and share your feedback.
UPDATE: In a statement, Banelco said both it and Link last month started charging a US $3 commission on every cash withdrawal using foreign cards. The companies, which work as networks representing Argentine banks, said the practice is the same as has been applied in other countries “for more than a decade.”
However, for the reasons mentioned above (the withdrawal limits and the discriminatory application of a fee only on foreign cards) , the commission doesn’t seem comparable to those charged in most countries. Banelco declined to answer questions about this or discuss the motives behind the new fee.
However, Banelco said both it and Link have raised the withdrawal limits to 1,000 pesos (without a daily limit) for the Cirrus network and 1,000 pesos (with a daily limit of 3,000 pesos) for the Visa Plus network.
I’ve tried using both networks and in neither case have I been able to reach the 1,000-peso limit. Instead, my limit seems to be around 930 pesos.
The reaction to President Cristina Fernández’s post-election speech and press conference last Monday was almost universally negative. Newspaper columns such as this one and this one were highly critical but representative of the overall reaction. The commentary on radio and television talk shows in the hours following the speech was critical. Viewer and listener comments focused on how the president seemed incapable of humbly and magnanimously acknowledging an electoral setback while simultaneously seeking to lead the country forward in a positive way.
The president, whose Victory Front Party suffered a major electoral defeat, sounded tone deaf and incapable of acknowledging that a significant portion of the country had voted for change. Indeed, seven out of 10 people voted for opposition candidates. Instead, the president downplayed her rivals’ achievements. In trying to make them seem small, she came across as a sore loser.
In the eyes of many Argentines the election was a referendum on her government. Instead of congratulating all parties for their participation in the election, the president, a lawyer by training, proceeded to make the case, in effect, that her party had in some ways actually won the election. (more…)
Plans to celebrate the 4th of July at ICANA were cancelled Friday because of fears regarding the A/H1N1 flu virus. The Democrats Abroad Argentina, or DAA, which had been planning the event, sent out the following notice:
“Due to the influenza epidemic, DAA’s 4th of July celebrations with Puertas Abiertas at ICANA have been canceled. We regret any inconvenience and wish you a safe and healthy holiday.”
Will the real Seinfeld co-creator and Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David please stand up?
Is this him here on the left?
Or is it this guy here below on the right?
Or is the person in this photo here really Carlos Bianchi, genius Argentine soccer coach? Or are all of these people really the same person?
Both were born in cities that start with the letter “B,” one in Brooklyn, the other in Buenos Aires. Both were born in the 1940s, one in 1949, the other in 1947. Both are extremely successful in their fields, one in soccer the other in television. Both are bald and wear glasses. And both appear on The Argentine Post. Seriously, can you tell them apart?
Juan Luis Manzur, Argentina’s new health minister, late Wednesday called for schools across the country to suspend all classes to stop the A/H1N1 flu virsus from killing more people.
Manzur said that as many as 44 people have died from the virus, though Health Ministry officials haven’t officially provided updated data since last Friday, when the number of confirmed dead stood at 26.
It’s unclear what other measures might be taken to detain the virus as Argentina’s heads into peak flu season.
Photo: Argentine President Cristina Fernández swearing in the new health minister. He replaced Graciela Ocaña, who quit on Monday.
By Fiorella Donayre
If happiness is a fresh warm bagel delivered to your door, then happiness arrived in Buenos Aires in March. That’s when Hanna Schiuma, Nicolas Fardi and Katrin Wilkniss launched “El Bagelazo” out of the small kitchen in Schiuma’s apartment in Almagro.
The question now is how soon it will be before they’ll have to move to a bigger space as word of their bagels spreads.
“A few days ago, we had our biggest order yet, for 50 bagels that we had to deliver at 8:30 a.m.,” said Brazil-born Schiuma during a recent interview in her apartment. “We were up almost all night.”
Schiuma and Wilkniss, who’s from Germany, decided to go into the bagel business this year as a way to work for themselves and meet an apparently untapped demand. “There was nobody in Buenos Aires delivering warm bagels fresh out of the oven at anytime you wanted with just 24 hours advanced notice,” said Schiuma, who moved to Buenos Aires five years ago after studying history and gastronomy in Spain.
The Democrats Abroad sent out the following invite to celebrate the 4th of July this Saturday. Everyone is welcome, regardless of political perspective:
DEMOCRATS ABROAD ARGENTINA CELEBRATES
UNITED STATES’ INDEPENDENCE DAY AT PUERTAS ABIERTAS
Saturday, July 4, from 3pm to 8:30pm
(ICANA, Maipú 672, Buenos Aires)
Democrats Abroad Argentina will celebrate US Independence Day with Puertas Abiertas the annual cultural event at The Argentine-American Cultural Institute’s (ICANA) downtown headquarters at Maipú 672 in Buenos Aires.
The celebration is from 3pm to 8:30pm and is free and open to both DAA members and the general public.
In addition to authentic American food there will be live music, American films, and door prizes. This year’s Puertas Abiertas has been declared an event of cultural importance by the Argentine Secretariat of Culture. (more…)
Voters on Sunday dealt a powerful blow to former president Néstor Kirchner and his six-year-old grip on power. Argentines lined up throughout the country in massive numbers to vote for opposition candidates who said it was time to put an end to the former president’s antagonistic, confrontational style.
Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri, whose Union Pro Party defeated Kirchner in the province of Buenos Aires, said voters sent a clear message to Kirchner and his wife, President Cristina Fernandez: “They sent a message that is absolutely clear, which is, ‘Enough.’”
Opposition leader and wealthy businessman Francisco De Narvaez, who competed head-to-head with Kirchner in the all-important province of Buenos Aires, beat the former president by more than two percentage points. It was a relatively mild win in terms of the actual arithmetic but a huge victory in terms of its symbolism. Kirchner had bet heavily that he could beat De Narváez and his gamble turned out to be the worst bet of his political life.
Opposition candidates beat Kirchner-backed candidates in the country’s five top electoral districts: the City of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Province, Cordoba Province, Mendoza and Santa Fe. Kirchner even lost in his home province of Santa Cruz, dealing a harsh psychological blow to the First Couple, which dominated the province’s politics for many years.
Kirchner’s ruling Victory Front Party got single-digit support in key congressional races in Cordoba and Santa Fe, less than 12% in the City of Buenos Aires and only about a quarter of the vote in Mendoza. This election was many things, but nothing if not a resounding symbolic defeat for the First Couple.
Here is a rough guide to the election’s big winners and losers: (more…)
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s “dear, dear friend” issued a statement Sunday discussing part of her involvement in the governor’s disappearance scandal. In the statement, she talks about how her e-mail communication with the governor may or may not have become public knowledge.
The Argentine Post was not going to publish her name, but since she has come out publicly and done so herself, this ethical quandary has become a non-issue. For those of you interested, what follows is the e-mailed statement, in English, that María Belén Chapur provided to the TV station C5N.
The Argentine Post has independently confirmed that the statement is from Chapur herself. The statement was given to C5N host Eduardo Feimann.
Dear Eduardo, (more…)
As Argentina’s winter season moves into full gear and the number of confirmed H1N1 flu deaths rises, suspicions are also rising about the veracity of the government’s swine flu data.
As of June 26, the latest available data, Argentina had 1,587 confirmed swine flu cases and 26 confirmed deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
That ranks Argentina third in the world in terms of confirmed deaths. It is topped only by the U.S., which has had 27,717 cases and 127 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Mexico, which has had 8,279 cases and 116 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
La Nación columnist Joquín Morales Solá summed up the suspicions over Argentina’s official swine flu data in a column Sunday: (more…)
For those of you who follow politics but aren’t familiar with Argentina’s electoral system, here are two photos of typical ballots being used to vote this Sunday. The first corresponds to the ruling Victory Front Party ticket led by former president Néstor Kirchner. The ex president is one of few people on the 35-candidate ticket who has actually promised to take office if elected.
Many of the other people on the ticket are so-called “testimonial” candidates, meaning they may not actually take office if elected. If this sounds nonsensical, it is, so don’t worry if it doesn’t make any sense – because it really doesn’t. (more…)
Torcuarto Di Tella University has released its latest crime “victimization rate” survey and the results are much more encouraging than they were a month ago.
The study, which surveys households in 40 urban centers around the country, shows that 31.8% of these homes reported that at least one household member was the victim of a crime within the past 12 months. Although that figure is up 17.3% on the year, it’s actually down 17.8% from the previous month.
It’s hard to know how promising this news is. After all, when compared with the previous month, crime declined last May too. In fact it declined in each of Argentina’s winter months last year. Are criminals less apt to rob and steel when it’s cold? (more…)