By The New York Times

Argentina, land of the tango, gauchos and good wine, is also emerging as the land of the good deal.

Foreign visitors who pay for their lodging with an international debit or credit card — not cash — now receive a direct and automatic refund of the country’s 21 percent value-added tax. The reimbursement applies to all accommodations, from hostels and midrange hotels to luxury resorts and the rural estates known as estancias.

“Our goal is to position Argentina among the world’s top travel destinations by making it more competitive and affordable. To do so, we have been implementing a range of new policies,” said Roberto Palais, the executive chairman of the National Institute of Tourism Promotion.

Other measures include removing the $160 visa reciprocity fee that United States citizens were previously required to pay before entering the country, as well as lifting currency restrictions put in place by the former government. After taking office in 2015, President Mauricio Macri allowed the peso to float freely, substantially closing the gap between the official exchange rate and the black market rate. “Before this action was taken, most tourists would change money at illegal back street offices, called cuevas,” said Maita Barrenechea, the owner of Mai 10, a Buenos Aires travel company specializing in customized trips to Argentina. “Now they can rely on banks, ATMs and credit cards for a fair exchange rate.”

Air travel is also improving. The national airline, Aerolíneas Argentinas, is growing its fleet and recently added Cordoba as a domestic hub, offering a more strategic location for flight connections because of its central location, while a government investment of 22 billion pesos will go toward renovating and expanding 19 airports. The airline also introduced a streamlined version of its Visit Argentina Pass, which offers discounted domestic airfares to travelers purchasing between three and 12 flights (as long as fliers show proof of an international round-trip ticket).

Additionally, a number of low-cost carriers will begin flying in Argentina this year including Alas del Sur, American Jet and Avian. The Spanish budget airline Level has already launched a flight between Barcelona and Buenos Aires, and Norwegian Airlines will begin flying from... (Read More)

By Buenos Aires Herald

Andrés Rosberg, the former president of the Argentine Sommelier Association (AAS), was anointed head of the Asociación de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) last Thursday in Bordeaux, France. He is the first sommelier from the Americas in the international sommellerie association’s 48-year history to take up this post.

He told the Buenos Aires Herald: “We’ve been working toward this goal for many years and it will surely have direct implications for Argentine wine and sommellerie. In 2012, the AAS invited every ASI member nation’s president to Argentina to convince them to vote for us as future world cup hosts; we then hosted that contest in 2016. In addition, Paz Levinson (from Virtus restaurant, Paris) won the PanAmerican championship in 2015 then ranked fourth in the world last year. These, and other factors, all added up to help Argentina not only stand for the ASI presidency — but also win it.”

Rosberg added that Argentina is increasingly on the world stage for... (Read More)

By Washington Post

Ernestina Herrera de Noble, who transformed her late husband’s newspaper from a struggling political project into Argentina’s most powerful media organization, a telecommunications giant whose size allowed her to tangle with presidents and quietly shape national politics to her advantage, died June 14. She was 92.

Grupo Clarín, the Argentine conglomerate that she formed in 1999, announced her death but did not provide additional details. With annual revenue of more than 11 billion pesos ($700 million), the company is among the largest telecom businesses in Latin America. Its flagship paper, the Buenos Aires-based tabloid Clarín, claims to have one of the highest circulations in the Spanish-speaking world.

Mrs. Herrera de Noble, a former flamenco dancer, had neither business experience nor a college education when she took the reins of Clarín in 1969 following the death of her husband, Roberto Noble. A wealthy rancher with a reputation as a charismatic womanizer, Noble had served as a conservative-aligned minister in Buenos Aires Province before founding Clarín in 1945.

The paper — its name means “bugle” in Spanish — at first distinguished itself with striking, photo-filled front pages that were designed to capture a working-class audience. Yet by the time of Noble’s death, it had fallen into debt and had acquired a reputation as a pro-development political organ, limiting its mass appeal.

“I was distressed, but at the same time I arrived with a tremendous determination,” Mrs. Herrera de Noble later recalled of her first days running Clarín. “I had to continue the work of Noble, not imitating it, because people are irreplaceable and each one has his own style.”

She soon set about broadening the paper’s scope and surrounding herself with talented advisers, including accountant Héctor Magnetto, Grupo Clarín’s current chief executive. Within a decade, according to journalist and Clarín historian Graciela Mochkofsky, Mrs. Herrera de Noble had pulled the paper out of debt and set it on a path to become Argentina’s most widely read publication.

She went on to grow her company into a political heavyweight, ignoring critics who accused her of seeking a media monopoly through investments in provincial broadsheets, local radio stations, websites, film productions, printing plants, a wireless carrier and the country’s largest cable and Internet business, Cablevisión.

The company’s growth was driven in part by favorable relations with strongmen and presidents who regarded Mrs. Herrera de Noble as a kingmaker, a backroom operator capable of cutting deals or skewering her opponents with negative press coverage.

She and Clarín “were always a power player,” Mochkofsky said, from the era of military rule that began in 1976 and on through the return of democracy in 1983. The company, she said, was “opportunistic . . . always negotiating behind closed doors, with every government from the dictatorship on, to obtain licenses for cable television or support for their business growth.”

Mrs. Herrera de Noble’s dealings with the government remained largely out of view until 2008, when a spat with then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner began dominating headlines. Kirchner’s husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, had been championed by Grupo Clarín, and the president signed off on the company’s acquisition of Cablevisión during his final days in office.

Yet Cristina Kirchner, a left-wing populist, felt antagonized by Mrs. Herrera de Noble’s media outlets shortly after being elected. Clarín papers and stations criticized the president for raising taxes on agricultural exports and for her subsequent, aggressive handling of farmers who were protesting the tax measure.

In response, Kirchner helped direct investigations into links between Mrs. Herrera de Noble and atrocities committed during the Dirty War of the 1970s and early ’80s.

It was during those years that Mrs. Herrera de Noble joined with several rival papers to purchase the country’s sole newsprint manufacturer, Papel Prensa. Ownership of the plant helped fuel Clarín’s growth in the coming decades, ending its reliance on imported paper that could be heavily taxed or outlawed by disgruntled government officials.

Kirchner and her allies charged that the purchase was facilitated by the junta, to take the plant away from owners who were sympathetic to the leftist Montoneros guerrilla group. Mrs. Herrera de Noble, they said, was complicit in the sale and in the subsequent torture and murder of associates of the plant’s former owners.

Her two children, whom she said she adopted in 1976, also were alleged to have been stolen from mothers who were abducted as political prisoners during the Dirty War. An estimated 30,000 people were killed or “disappeared” by the military during the conflict, while Clarín and other Argentine papers avoided coverage of the incidents, largely threatened into silence.

Mrs. Herrera de Noble insisted that she had done nothing wrong in adopting her son and daughter, and at one point testified that she adopted her daughter after finding her sitting inside a cardboard box outside her door. In 2011, DNA tests found that her children were not part of a group of 55 families whose children had been abducted.

Ernestina Laura Herrera was born in Buenos Aires on June 7, 1925, the youngest of six children. Her father was a humanities professor and her mother was a pianist from Valencia, Spain.

She once said that she met her future husband, who was 23 years her senior, during a 1946 cruise down the Paraná River. They saw each other intermittently and married in 1967, by which time Noble had divorced another woman.

Following Noble’s death, Mrs. Herrera de Noble vied for control of the paper with a daughter from Noble’s earlier marriage. They eventually settled in court, with Mrs. Herrera de Noble taking control of Clarín.

Survivors include her adopted children, Marcela and Felipe, and three grandchildren.

The election of Cristina Kirchner’s successor, former engineer Mauricio Macri, helped Grupo Clarín expand further as telecommunications regulations began to be rolled back. In August, the company announced a plan to convert Cablevisión into an independent business, allowing it to compete directly against Argentine phone carriers.

Mrs. Herrera de Noble remained tight-lipped about her plans, as well as her own life. She seemed to follow the advice of her late husband, adopting his motto as her own, according to an obituary in Clarín.

“Those who make a newspaper,” she liked to say, “do not have to... (Read More)

By International Railway Journal

A batch of 20 CRRC locomotives for Argentina’s 1676mm-gauge San Martín Railway was unloaded at the port of Buenos Aires on May 30.

The six-axle units were built at CRRC’s plant in Qishuyan, China, and are part of an order for 67 broad-gauge and 10 standard-gauge locomotives for Argentinean Trains Cargo. The first two units for the San Martín Railway arrived in Argentina at the end of last year.

The locomotives are equipped with... (Read More)

By Tech Crunch

Despite years of economic uncertainties and the lack of a proper legal framework to help promising startups obtain capital, Argentine entrepreneurs are building a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The country is home to many of Latin America’s biggest startup success stories, and with the introduction of one new law, the pathway to success is about to get a whole lot easier. Last month, the Senate voted unanimously to approve legislation supporting... (Read More)

By Punto a Punto

La Ruta Provincial 222 que comunica la Ruta Nacional 40 con el complejo Las Leñas, en Malargüe, está en pleno proceso de reconstrucción. Un conjunto de trabajos están devolviendo a la arteria nuevo pavimento, nuevas banquinas y nueva demarcación y señalización, señalan desde el gobierno.

La obra comprende tres segmentos que están siendo intervenidos de manera simultánea. El primero consta de 13 kilómetros, desde el ingreso al... (Read More)

By Venture Beat

I’ve lived in Santiago, Chile for six years, and in just this short time I’ve witnessed Latin America’s tech ecosystem grow by leaps and bounds. Programs like Start-Up Chile, 500 Startups: Latam, and NXTP Labs are seeding Latin America’s tech ecosystem and providing incredible resources for local entrepreneurs. Thanks to these programs, and many others, I’ve seen a surge in not only Latin American companies launching for local markets but also in US startups opening offices here, along with local entrepreneurs attacking the US market. This growth has generated a new wave of highly-skilled, international tech companies operating in Latin America.

As someone who has operated a tech company in Latin America and worked with countless startups with a Latin American presence, I receive numerous emails from US-based tech workers who are curious to know what... (Read More)

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