Who is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and why is she the most important figure in Argentine politics?
(CNN Spanish) — Since her triumph in the presidential elections of 2007, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has been consolidated as the most important figure in politics in Argentina, with followers and critics alike and an enormous influence in the life of the country.
Fernández de Kirchner, who already had experience as a deputy and a senator, was first lady between 2003 and 2007, and then twice president of Argentina between 2007 and 2015.
Following a return to the Argentine Senate during the Mauricio Macri presidency (2015-2019), Fernández de Kirchner was elected Vice President and took office alongside President Alberto Fernández in December 2019.
As vice president, Fernández de Kirchner has continued to exercise enormous influence in the government of Alberto Fernández and in the political life of the country.
And this Thursday, in the context of a judicial investigation against him and in the midst of a series of demonstrations in his favor, Fernández de Kirchner was the victim of an assassination attempt: a man pointed a gun at the vice president and pressed the trigger, but the shot did not come out. He was arrested by the police immediately afterwards.
Who is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner?
Cristina Fernández was born on February 19, 1953 in the city of La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires, according to slogan on your personal web page.
He studied law at the National University of La Plata, where he also began his political militancy in Peronism, the movement and political party (justicialismo) that emerged around former president Juan Domingo Perón and was based, according to their own instructions, in social justice, political sovereignty and economic independence.
I know case Nestor Kirchner in 1975, and in 1976, after the coup that overthrew the government of María Estela Martínez de Perón, Perón’s widow, and established a violent dictatorship, they settled in the province of Santa Cruz, in the deep south of the Patagonia.
After the return of democracy in 1983, Fernández de Kirchner and her husband they returned actively military in the Justicialist Party. Kirchner was elected mayor of Río Gallegos, capital of Santa Cruz, in 1987, and governor of the province in 1991. Fernández de Kirchner was elected provincial deputy in 1989, re-elected in 1993 and 1995.
In 1994 she was a representative of Santa Cruz in the Constitutional Convention that reformed the Constitution of Argentina, and in 1995 she was elected for the first time as a senator for the province of Santa Cruz in the National Congress.
In December 2001, the worst economic crisis in Argentina’s history broke out: amid high unemployment rates and an economic downturn, the imposition of strong restrictions on money withdrawals from banks —known as the “corralito”— led to a wave of protests violently repressed by the government.
The crisis led to the resignation of President Fernando De la Rúa and almost two years of economic collapse and political instability.
In this context, Néstor Kirchner competed in the 2003 presidential elections for the Front for Victory —a coalition led by Justicialism—, obtaining second place behind former President Carlos Saúl Menem. The few votes obtained by both, however, meant that a second round had to take place, but Menem withdrew from the race anticipating a defeat, and Kirchner assumed as president.
During her years as first lady, Fernández de Kirchner continued her work as a senator for the province of Santa Cruz and, as of 2005, senator for the province of Buenos Aires.
The two presidencies of Fernández de Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner’s presidency was marked by Argentina’s economic recovery after the 2001 crisis, fostered by a sustained increase in the prices of raw materials, especially food, and by income redistribution policies.
But in 2007 Kirchner surprised the electorate by announcing that he would not stand for re-election. Instead, Fernández de Kirchner ran for the Front for Victory and won with 45.29% of the votes.
During his first presidency, Fernández de Kirchner continued the policies of the previous government, promoting economic growth and social measures.
In those years, his government promoted the Universal Child Allowance, a controversial law on Audiovisual Communication Services, and same-sex marriage, among other measures.
It also faced two major crises: the first in 2008 against the agricultural sectors, which staged a series of protests and strikes in the face of increased export tariffs, and the second triggered by the international financial crisis that began that same year.
The death of Néstor Kirchner in 2010 due to cardiac arrest shook the government and the then president.
“It is the greatest pain I have had in my life. It is the loss of someone who has been my partner for 35 years. A partner in life, in struggle, in ideals. A part of me went with him, he is in Río Gallegos”, The president said at that time on national television, dressed in black.
A year later, Fernández de Kirchner was re-elected with 54.11% of the vote, her best electoral performance to date, and the largest majority obtained by any candidate since the return of democracy in 2003.
In his second government, he had to face the stagnation of the economy, which failed to overcome its 2011 peak, which, together with the effects of the Great Global Recession that began in 2008, had an impact on the Government’s ability to distribute income.
During these years, inflation and poverty began to grow, and they continue to be two of the main problems today.
The presidency is remembered for the restrictions on imports and the purchase of dollars, for a series of massive protests against him, the largest of which occurred on November 12, 2012, and for a conflict with venture capital funds, also known as such as vulture funds, which led to a selective default.
Also, by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose body was found in January 2015, shot in the head in the bathroom of his house, four days after denouncing Fernández de Kirchner for alleged cover-up in the context of the AMIA attack. from 1994.
The prosecutor’s complaint was later dismissed in three judicial instances, but Justice continues to investigate the causes of his death.
Disqualified by the Constitution from running again in the 2015 elections, the Front for Victory led Daniel Scioli, governor of the province of Buenos Aires and former vice president of Néstor Kirchner, as a candidate. But Mauricio Macri, of the Cambiemos coalition, won and ended the first 12-year term of what is known in Argentina as “Kirchnerism.”
Leader of the opposition and return to Government
Fernández de Kirchner did not hold any office during Macri’s first government, but in 2017 she was again elected senator for the province of Buenos Aires.
In those years he also faced a series of judicial investigations against him for corruption —among which the “highway” case and the notebooks of the alleged corruption stand out—, which Fernández de Kirchner denies.
In May 2019, the first oral trial began against Fernández de Kirchner for the “highway” case, for which the former Minister of Planning Julio De Vido, the construction businessman Lázaro Baez and ten other defendants, all accused of integrating an illicit association to defraud the public administration through public works.
In 2019, amid speculation about a possible candidacy, Fernández de Kirchner announced the formation of a new coalition, the Frente de Todos, to compete in the presidential elections. But she would be part of the ticket as vice president, along with Alberto Fernández, former chief of staff of Néstor Kirchner who later broke with Kirchnerism, who would be the candidate for president.
“After having been twice president of that country and the first woman elected as such… I remain more convinced than ever that personal expectations or ambition have to be subordinated to the general interest,” she said in a promotional video.
Also in this year the then senator published her memoir “Sinceramente”.
Fernández and Fernández de Kirchner had to deal with the covid-19 pandemic and its strong impact on the Argentine economy, which had already been dragging a recession since Macri’s presidency, and the Frente de Todos began to show signs of tension and disintegration through end of 2021.
In the midst of all this, in August of this year the Prosecutor’s Office accused Fernández de Kirchner of corruption in the framework of the “highway” case.
Specifically, she is accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of having led an association to defraud the State when she was president, by allegedly directing millionaire contracts for road works in the province of Santa Cruz. The Prosecutor’s Office requested 12 years in prison for the vice president and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Fernández de Kirchner, on the other hand, assures that this accusation of corruption has no foundation and that it is a persecution against him and the political project that the Front of All represents. He said he was not “before a court of the Constitution, but before a media-judicial firing squad” and that the sentence against him was already written.
With information from Emilia Delfino and Iván Pérez Sarmenti.