An Argentinian woman who serves on a local city council has resigned and reportedly faces up to 15 years in prison after she was caught hosting a party for her teenage children during the coronavirus pandemic. Isabel Marcado worked as the Coordinator of Institutional Relations in La Paz, Mendoza before resigning, reports Argentina's Perfil. Video of the gathering appears to show people not following social distancing guidelines and no one was wearing a mask.
In her resignation letter, Marcado took responsibility for the party and insisted that it was not the "mega party" it was reported to be. She said there was no DJ or alcohol at the party, only a video crew she hired to film. She also believed she could host the party because there were no new cases of the coronavirus in her area. However, large gatherings are still prohibited in the Mendoza province.
"Because of my children's 18th and 15th birthdays, we decided to follow tradition and throw eggs and flour, which takes no more than an hour, which is what happened," Marcado explained in her letter, reports The Mirror. "I did not know what I was thinking of and I take full responsibility for what happened, I allowed myself to follow the feelings and love of a mother."
La Paz Mayor Fernando Ubieta accepted Marcado's resignation, adding, "I am very sorry to have to make this decision, first and foremost because I know the quality of the person that Patricia is and the very important work she was carrying out." However, she still faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of spreading a dangerous and contagious disease. Mercado's husband, Eduardo Cuesta, who owns the house where the party was held, has reportedly been charged as well. The incident is still under investigation.
Argentina has 7,134 confirmed coronavirus cases and 353 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, even though the country's population is over 44 million. Officials in Buenos Aires acted quickly and found success containing the virus, notes NPR. When the country began its nationwide shutdown on March 20, there were only 100 confirmed cases. President Alberto Fernández began allowing provincial mayor sand governors to open businesses on Monday. A recent poll found more than 70% of Argentinians approve of his government's handling of the crisis.
While the number of cases is not high, the economic damage caused by the coronavirus is not going away for Argentina. The country risks going into default again if it cannot come up with a plan to restructure $65 billion in international debt before May 22. The country was already looking at a 2% decrease in GDP in 2020, and now the IMF is predicting a 6% drop, Daniel Montamat, who runs a consulting firm in Buenos Aires, told NPR.