banks remaining closed for the 19th day, the Argentine
President ,Eduardo Duhalde, declared a national medical
emergency due to a shortage in medications such as
insulin, local news agencies reported.
The Foreign Minister, Carlos Ruckauf , returned from
Brazil yesterday with 275,000 doses of insulin donated
by the Brazilian Government, the first instalment
of a larger donation.The Presidential spokesman ,
Eduardo Amadeo , said that Duhalde, a populist Peronist,
had appointed Juan Pablo Cafiero, a centre left politician,
as interim Social Affairs Minister to ``take all necessary
measures to ensure that products are available''.
Argentine laboratories have stopped producing medicines
until they know how much they must mark up their prices
to compensate for the 30 per cent currency devaluation
approved on Sunday. The decline in insulin availability
was felt some weeks ago, and a private group, Red
Solidarity, has had been distributing the medicine
free in Buenos Aires.
Uncertainty over the currency values persisted as
banks remained closed yesterday. The government has
uncoupled the peso from its 1-to-1 exchange rate with
the U.S. dollar, and imposed a value of 1.4 pesos
to the dollar for foreign trading. It will allow the
value to float in domestic trading, expected to begin
today. The stock market also remained shut down yesterday.
While the government said it expects the domestic
rate to trade about the same level as the official
foreign rate of 1.4 pesos to the dollar, black market
exchange rates were already climbing higher than 1.4,
reports said yesterday.
Market experts said that in all likelihood the exchange
rate will skyrocket as there will be great demand
for dollars from anxiety-plagued citizens. In New
York, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank said it anticipated the
peso would fall to 2.7 to the dollar by the end of
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