Saturday, September 24

Cristina Kirchner, the woman who divides Argentines



This week, his name and face have covered the pages of all the newspapers and TV channels of the Argentine and international press. From one end of the South American country to the other, there is no place where the judicial situation of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) is not being discussed. At 69 years old, and with a long political career behind her, Cristina, which is what everyone calls her, has managed to become the most important woman on the Argentine political scene. And this is something that both her admirers and her detractors recognize. Perhaps the only point on which they agree. But, what has been the path that has led this lawyer from southern Argentina to become a political icon? Born in La Plata (the capital of the province of Buenos Aires) in 1953, from a young age she began to feel fond of the complex world of politics. Throughout her entire life, her political career appears intertwined with her personal and family life, two worlds that intersect since her youth and impossible to analyze separately. Her first contact with politics occurred in the 1970s, when she joined the Justicialist Party and became a member of the Peronist Youth, much more radical than the party and influenced by the revolutionary leftism of the time. Also in that decade, the future lawyer – she was studying that career at the University of La Plata – met who would later be her husband and her life partner: Néstor Kirchner. Together they would form a duo that would remain at the top of power for more than 10 years. Family and politics They were classmates at the university and, after getting married in 1975, they moved to the city of Río Gallegos, in southern Argentina. There they began to work together. Initially, in a law firm they formed. Then, in the realm of politics. They had two children: Máximo (born 1977) and Florencia Kirchner (born 1990). The eldest of the sons is today one of the main referents of the Kirchnerist movement and leads the group of this political sign called La Cámpora. Once again, family and politics hand in hand. The first position that the current vice president obtained came in 1989, as a provincial deputy of Santa Cruz. She later became a national senator. Her husband was, at that time, governor of that province. The political career of both climbed little by little, going from provincial to national positions until in 2003 they made the great leap to the Casa Rosada, with the arrival of Néstor Kirchner to the presidency. Four years later, his wife would succeed him in this position, becoming the second woman to preside over Argentina in history after María Estela Martínez de Perón (1974-1976). In October 2010 Nestor Kirchner passed away. A year later, Cristina would be re-elected with more than 54% of the votes for a second term between 2011 and 2015. An absent father Cristina’s story and her relationship with her husband arouse almost obsession in Argentina. In her book ‘Cristina Fernández, the true story’, the journalist Laura Di Marco assures that the absence of a father figure in her childhood explains her search for protection in her husband Néstor since she met him . She says that there are those who say that her “real father never recognized her” and that her biological father was not the bus driver who gave him her last name, Eduardo Fernández. The journalist describes her as “a bold, innovative, dependent and impressionable woman”. Her description contrasts with the perception on the part of Argentines that she is stubborn and abusive, this facet that politics has revealed in several contacts with the press. This July, she publicly scolded the presenter of an event she participated in for the way she was referred to. «Next time, my dear, never again call me ‘excellent’, I hate being called that. With Cristina and Mrs. Vice President, she is fine, enough and more than enough », she launched. Maternal and protective, Fernández de Kirchner established a caring and unconditional relationship with her youngest daughter, Florencia, especially when the young woman was hospitalized in Cuba after suffering post-traumatic stress and lymphedema in her legs. With her other offspring, Máximo, the bond exceeds the familiar. In Argentina there are those who assure that he is the political successor of her father and some consider that he will inherit the role of leader of the Kirchnerist movement. Regarding the bond between the two husbands, Cristina and Néstor, the Argentine journalist Ceferino Reato, in an article in the Argentine media Infobae, assures that both had “volcanic temperaments” but that, “however, they never allowed the discussions and fights to affect the intense political bond that united them». The same article recounts that some rispideces between the two were linked to Cristina’s taste for luxury items and ostentation. Her elegance was the focus of criticism from the beginning of her political career, due to the contrast she generated with a country in crisis and with high levels of poverty. From the beginning of her presidency to the present, her fondness for articles from the Louis Vuitton firm has been a constant and continues to arouse criticism. Without going any further, last year a belt of this brand that Cristina exhibited in Congress at a price of 700 dollars, a value that exceeds the average Argentine salary, caught the attention of the local press. Her fondness for luxury clothing reached the international press when the ‘New York Post’ published in 2011 that she had bought 20 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes worth 100,000 euros in Paris. Kirchnerism lasted twelve years in power, between the mandate of Néstor and the two of his wife. In various speeches, both enthusiastically celebrated more than 10 years in office, referring to their tenure at the Casa Rosada as “the decade won.” However, for the current Argentine vice president, this is no longer a lucky number: 12 is exactly the number of years in prison that the prosecutor who accuses her of corruption asks for her. As her power grew in Argentina, the former president began to be in the eye of justice. Some of the legal cases brought against her and that have been dismissed from her linked her to accusations of corruption and money laundering. But now, in the case called Vialidad, in which she is once again accused of corruption, she has reached an instance that truly worries her, since she runs the risk of going to jail. The prosecutor’s request has generated an almost predictable effect on the Argentine people: half celebrate, the other half suffer. What is certain is that for no citizen the figure of Cristina goes unnoticed. Never. The equation is simple: love her or hate her. Over the years, a mystique has been built around her figure such that, for many, it has become almost a religious issue. In Argentina, politics is lived and felt almost like football. And in the River-Boca of the current political scene, the mist of passions leaves no room for grays. There is fanaticism on both sides. Those who adore the current vice president – ​​that she holds much more power than the current president Alberto Fernández, and this is known in Argentina – feel it, shout it and even sing it in the streets. “If they touch Cristina, what a quilombo (mess) is going to be made,” reads one of her best-known songs. Another of her verses says: «Cristina, Cristina, Cristina heart. Here you have the kids (kids) for the liberation». The fans applaud. The detractors, they hate. The division will worsen On the other side of politics, on the opposite side, those who hate her cannot even hear her name or her voice. They come to call her ‘the mare’, and address the representatives of the movement as ‘kk’, alluding to the K of Kirchnerism. Those who defend her consider that she is being the victim of “judicial persecution” as they believe has happened in other Latin American countries. Those who criticize her, consider her a thief on a grand scale. She loved and loathed, but never indifferent. The feelings that she generates are close to those aroused by Eva Duarte de Perón, the last woman who managed to have such weight in Argentine politics. Fascination and quasi-religious adoration, on the one hand. Hate, from the other. The same one that led her to write ‘Long live cancer’ in the streets of Buenos Aires, alluding to the disease that ended her life. Symptoms of an increasingly divided and polarized society. As then, it begins to happen that there are Argentine families who separate, friends who do not speak due to their differences of opinion regarding Kirchnerism and its leader, Cristina. This was evidenced on Tuesday, when admirers and detractors agreed at the door of the house of the current vice president in the luxurious Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta, after the prison request for the leader of Kirchnerism was announced by the prosecutor of the case. The ‘anti-Kirchnerists’ celebrated the prosecutor’s decision and came with their pans to celebrate. The admirers gathered there to “hold her up” – support – her leader. Despite the fact that a fence had been placed to separate the two groups, the violence escalated and the police even intervened. Once again, the violence. Since Tuesday, a group of people has decided to camp at the door of Cristina’s home as a sign of support. She herself has called a march in defense of her. As the trial progresses, and the day of judgment approaches, it is to be expected that the social mood will worsen. Whatever the decision of the court, the result is almost predictable: indignation in half of the Argentines; relief in the other half.


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