Tens of thousands of Argentines demonstrated in several cities under the shock of the attempted assassination of Vice President Cristina Kirchner Thursday, which sparked a wave of international condemnation and calls for political calm in the country.
‘Enough hate’ was written on banners in Buenos Aires, where the capital’s largest demonstration was held in a long time, while President Alberto Fernandez declared Friday a holiday, describing the assault on a former president (2007-2015) as ‘a very dangerous act, the most dangerous our country has experienced since. Democracy restored’ in 1983.
On Thursday evening, just after 9 p.m., a man pointed his gun at Vice President Christina Kirchner in front of her home.
Several television channels broadcast a picture of this person pointing a weapon at Kirchner’s head, a few meters away from her, without firing a bullet, while she was talking to supporters in front of her home in the Recoleta neighborhood.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said in a statement hours after the incident that “Cristina is alive because the weapon that contained five bullets did not work for a reason that has not been technically confirmed, despite the trigger being pulled.”
According to her lawyer, Gregorio Dalbon, Kirchner “didn’t realize at the time” what was happening.
The official Telam news agency quoted police sources as saying that the man who was arrested on the spot is Fernando Andre Sapag Montiel, 35, who has Brazilian citizenship but has an Argentine mother and a Chilean father. He has lived in Argentina since 1993, and was arrested in 2021 for carrying a knife.
The accused refused to answer the questions of the judge and the public prosecutor in charge of the case, according to judicial sources quoted by local newspapers. He had previously undergone psychiatric examinations, which concluded that he could be prosecuted.
– ‘Wake up the Argentines’ –
A man named “Mario” who introduced himself as his friend since adolescence, described him in an interview with “Telef” network as “maniac” and “marginal” since his mother’s death and his life was often affected by alcohol.
On his Instagram account, Fernando Sabag appears with multiple altered looks and numerous tattoos including the black sun commonly associated with Nazi groups.
The entire Argentine political class condemned the assassination attempt.
Pope Francis, who was formerly Archbishop of Buenos Aires, sent a message of “solidarity” and “closeness”, saying that he prays that “social harmony and democratic values will always prevail.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “shock” at the assassination attempt and condemned it.
The United States “strongly” condemned the assassination attempt, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrote on Twitter that Washington stood “by the side of the Argentine government and people in rejecting violence and hatred.”
In Buenos Aires, the Plaza de Mayo, which historically witnessed the joy and anger of the Argentines, was filled with a large crowd on Friday at the invitation of the ruling coalition and movements loyal to it. Other rallies were held in Santa Fe, Rosario, Tucuman and several other cities, as reported by local media, at the invitation of pro-government sectors.
“I came to support democracy and Cristina to tell her we are here,” retired Adriana Spina, 61, told AFP. To see if the Argentines wake up and realize that we can’t go this way.”
– ‘Verbal violence’ –
Seven years after leaving the presidency, Senate President Christina Kirchner remains an important actor in the country’s political scene, a year ahead of a presidential election that has not yet announced her intentions.
Hundreds of activists have gathered every evening for ten days in front of Christina Kirchner’s home to express their support for her while she is currently on trial for fraud and corruption.
Their number was a few dozen when the accident occurred on Thursday evening. The atmosphere remained oddly calm in the following hours.
Among these supporters is Martin Frias, 48, a veteran Al-Biruni who expressed to AFP his regret over the political “climate of violence” in the country. He said that ‘violence in words leads to acts of violence’.
On August 22, the prosecution asked for a 12-year prison sentence against Kirchner and depriving her of the possibility of running in the elections for life, in a trial related to the award of public contracts in her stronghold in Santa Cruz (south) during her two presidential terms.
In an atmosphere of intense political polarization, the indictment led to demonstrations in support of Kirchner organized by the Peronist left, whose most important figure is. Gatherings took place last week in several cities.
Follow the world news from the statement via Google News