On September 1, Chrisina Kirchner, Vice President of Argentina, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. For eleven days, demonstrators had gathered outside the home of the former head of state to support him. She is currently on trial for fraud and corruption. Seven years after leaving the presidency of the country, Cristina Kirchner remains an essential and influential figure in a polarized and tense policy.
A political “mother” with social fiber
Cristina Kirchner is the widow of President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007). The latter left in many Argentines the gratitude of a normality regained after the trauma of the “great crisis” of 2001. Cristina Kirchner has long cultivated the memory of her husband, who died in 2010 in the wake of which she was elected in 2007 and then re-elected in 2011.
We thought it was necessary to ensure over time a virtuous political process of transformation of the country.Cristina Kirchner, Vice President of Argentina
They had known each other in law school. Once they became lawyers, they lived and worked together. In the province of Santa Cruz in Patagonia, their electoral stronghold, then in the capital, once Nestor Kirchner became president. Their project was to alternate at the head of Argentina. “We thought it was necessary to ensure over time a virtuous political process of transformation of the country”, wrote Cristina Kirchner in her booklet “Sincerely.”
In power, Cristina Kirchner imposed exchange controls and import restrictions. She fell out with powerful agricultural producers, conducted a generous social policy. She was also close to Presidents Lula in Brazil and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. During his terms, same-sex marriage was approved, as well as a law on gender self-determination. She has also devoted increased attention to the cause of women, making Argentina a pioneer in Latin America.
The rise of the Kirchners to Argentine power
June 4, 1946: Juan Perón becomes president of Argentina, it is the birth of Peronism.
1998-2002: Economic, political and social crisis in Argentina.
May 25, 2003: Nestor Kirchner becomes president of Argentina.
December 10, 2007: Cristina Kirchner becomes president and will be re-elected in 2011.
December 10, 2019: Inauguration of Alberto Fernández as President of Argentina, with Cristina Kirchner as Vice President.
Implicated in a dozen cases
At the end of August, Cristina Kirchner lives under the threat of twelve years in prison and life ineligibility. This sentence was requested against her during a trial for corruption, in a case of public contracts in her stronghold of Santa Cruz (south) during the period when she was president of Argentina, between 2007 and 2015. According to the prosecution, it would have caused losses for the State estimated at 5.2 billion pesos, or 38 million dollars.
The indictment gave rise to several demonstrations of support for Ms. Kirchner by the hard core of the Peronist left of which she is the figurehead. Rallies took place at the end of last week in several cities of Argentina. And every evening, several hundred supporters meet at the foot of the vice-president’s home.
In recent years, Cristina Kirchner has been implicated in a dozen separate cases, between bribes, money laundering or obstruction of justice. She benefited from dismissals, but five procedures remain in progress. A verdict in her trial is not expected until late 2022. Even if convicted, she enjoys parliamentary immunity as President of the Senate and may not go to jail or even run in the general elections of October 2023.
A lawsuit against Peronism?
In a pleading broadcast on her social networks, Cristina Kirchner defended herself from the accusations against her. She claims that “it’s not a lawsuit against me, it’s a lawsuit against Peronism, national and popular governments“.”It’s 12 years (from prison required) for 12 years of the best government that Argentina has had in recent decades“, she launched. “They’re not after me, they’re after you!“
What is Peronism?
Interviewed by TV5MONDE in 2019 after Alberto Fernández’s victory in the presidential election, Dario Rodriguez, lecturer in Latin American civilizations at Paris-Sorbonne University, defines Peronism as the embodiment “both a movement, a party, and a political identity.”
Historically, Peronism positions itself as a movement that represents workers, and gives visibility to a marginalized world, especially the working classes.
Dario Rodriguez, lecturer at Paris-Sorbonne University
With defiance, aplomb, she posed as the victim of “a political trial“by a justice, according to her, instrumentalized by the right-wing opposition. Who, as she proclaimed to her supporters who came to sing it at her home, wants”exterminate” the Peronism of which they “hate the love and the joy”. The rejection it elicits is much broader, many analysts agree.”She cannot win a national election (…) she knows it and all Peronism knows it“, analyzes Raul Aragon. But in a primary election, Cristina “weigh this 25%“, and in his camp, “no ticket (presidential in 2023) cannot be done without Cristina’s agreement“. Like in 2019.