Argentina’s Vice President, Ex-President and Former primera dama Cristina Fernández de Kirchner narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. As the country’s most influential politician signed autographs to fans outside her home on Thursday evening, a man pointed a gun at her forehead from nearby. However, when he tried to pull the trigger, the weapon jammed and Kirchner (69) was able to be brought to safety. The gunman, a 35-year-old Brazilian man who has lived in the country since 1993, was arrested.
‘CFC’ or ‘Cristina’, as it is popularly known, has dominated national politics for two decades. Since 2003, first as the wife of left-wing nationalist president Néstor Kirchner, whom she succeeded in 2007 to remain president until 2015 after his death (in 2010). For the 2019 presidential race, she decided to take a tactical step back: she did not run for the highest office again, but became the running mate of the more moderate candidate Alberto Fernández (no relation).
‘Cristina’ evokes deep aversion or great admiration among Argentinians
It strongly divides the population: it evokes deep aversion or great admiration. While little is known about a possible motive for the arrested gunman, the assassination attempt immediately became the subject of polarized debate. While right-wing opinion makers on TV analyzed that the attack “will suit her politically”, left-wing supporters called for the “hate rhetoric” to be dimmed.
Kirchner has been in the news since last month, because the justice system indicted her for alleged corruption during the years she was president. If convicted, she could face up to 12 years in prison and a political professional ban. Kirchner, who is also a Senate president and enjoys immunity, would only have to serve a possible sentence if the Supreme Court takes it over — which could take years — or if she loses her Senate seat by the end of 2023.
Kirchner denies the charges and speaks of a witch hunt by the right that it wants to “wipe out Peronism”. Since the indictment, her supporters have protested in solidarity near her home in Recoleta, an upscale neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Last weekend, they clashed with police officers when the capital’s mayor Larreta – an opposition politician – erected crush barriers to contain the protest. The Kirchner fans called this a “provocation” and attacked officers.
Speaking to the nation, President Fernández termed the failed attack on Thursday night as “the most serious event since we regained democracy.” [in 1984, red]”. He said the shooter’s Bersa .40 was loaded with five rounds. For Friday, he announced a national day off on which “the Argentine people can, in peace and harmony, express their support for the protection of life, democracy and solidarity with our Vice President”.
Also read: Cristina Kirchner puts all of Argentina on the wrong track