Sunday, September 25

The trial against Cristina Kirchner intensifies polarization in Argentina

The physiognomy of the Recoleta neighborhood of the city of Buenos Aires bears the mark of these times of crisis: buildings of lineage and, at the same time, the incessant parade of poor people looking for bread and fish in the garbage. Late-model cars and people sleeping rough. At the intersection of Uruguay and Juncal streets stands one of those stately apartments. There, in that furious heart of the anti-peronismit lives Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. “If they touch her, what a quilombo (mess) is going to be created,” his followers warn day and night. Men and women have become human shield from the moment the prosecutor Diego Luciani asked for her 12 years in prison and permanent disqualification for considering her the head of a “illicit association“linked to the business of public work during their governments (2007-2015). “We stayed until Monday at least,” a young man who defines himself as Cristina’s “soldier”.

The trial against the vice president seems to devour all the events in Argentinaeven the silent but profound adjustment carried out by the new Minister of Economy of the Peronist Government, Serge Massa. Fernández de Kirchner has not only challenged the relationship of the prosecutor and Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu, one of the members of the court that must issue a sentence, with former President Mauricio Macri. He also dusted off the family album of some magistrates related to the case: sons or husbands of daughters of officials of the last dictatorship who, he said, wait for the time to come revenge for having promoted trials against those responsible for having violated human rights between 1976 and 1983.

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The sentence is expected for the beginning of December, when the Argentines will focus their attention on the World Cup in Qatar and Leo Messi. For now, Francisco Sánchez, a deputy from the PRO, Macri’s party, has recommended applying the death penalty for the accused of corruption. Other members of that right-wing formation are content with the possibility that Fernández de Kirchner will finally leave the political scene. “They want to outlaw her“, assures at the intersection of Uruguay and Juncal a Buenos Aires resident who joins the unemployment lists. And that verb brings back the memory of other interdictions. In 1956, the military regime that overthrew John Peron sanctioned Law 4161 that forbidden to pronounce his name and that of his late wife, Eva Duarte. That did nothing but encourage a violence that became the language of arms in the 70s.

Is Cristina Lula?

All those ghosts return to populate the minds of those with memories. Peronism, for now, intends to carry out a massive march in defense of the vice president. But, in addition, it warns that Argentina is replicating what happened in Brazil in 2018, when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for acts of corruption. The trial was annulled in 2021 by the Supreme Court. Lula not only spent 585 days in a cell. He came out of the election race when he was a favourite. He won the elections Jair Bolsonaro. sergio moro, the judge who had sentenced the former president, was awarded the Ministry of Justice. He is no longer an exemplary figure. He is considered a reprobate responsible for having politicized justice, the same as the prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol.

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That’s what several Latin American presidents think and the Argentine, Alberto Fernandez. Cristina, they suggest, is Lula. Luciani and Uruburu are the Argentine copies of Dallagnol and Moro. Fernández maintains that the accusing party “has no evidence” and his argumentation “is of a very large legal weakness“. The trial, coincided with Fernández de Kirchner, seeks to intimidate the political leadership. “Who is going to want to be president if they have to take responsibility for what all public officials do?”

A horizon of discord

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In response to a question from a television journalist, the president ruled out any resemblance to what happened in January 2015 to Alberto Nismanthe prosecutor who was investigating the anti-Semitic attack that had killed dozens of people in this capital in 1994 and who was found dead in his apartment a few days after denouncing a pact between the then president and Iran to guarantee the impunity of the perpetrators of that terrorist act. Fernandez said that Nisman “committed suicide” and that so far “nothing else has been proven”. And, surprisingly, he added: “I hope prosecutor Luciani doesn’t do something like that“.

The prosecutor claimed to feel intimidated by the presidential intervention. “This government gives security to judges and prosecutors,” responded the president. Macrista Maximiliano Ferraro denounced him for “instigation to suicide and threat of mafia assassination.” Other members of the right-wing coalition have proposed to subject him to impeachment. “He has violated the Constitution,” Macri said. Nothing seems to indicate that the tension will decrease. The only thing that could lead to the trial against Fernández de Kirchner from the center of the scene is a economic disaster. And that danger is latent.

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