Argentina: failed gun attack against Cristina Kirchner
Eva Deschamps / September 2, 2022
A man was arrested Thursday night in Buenos Aires after pointing a loaded gun at Vice President Cristina Kirchner as she returned home, an incident condemned by the entire political class and internationally.
According to images of several televisions, the man pointed a handgun to the head of Ms. Kirchner, just a few meters away, without any shot being fired, while she was signing books and mingling with supporters, who came to wait for her at the bottom of her house, in the neighborhood of Recoleta.
I saw this arm come up over my shoulder behind me with a gun, and with people around me he was subdued, a supporter of Ms. Kirchner, who did not wish to give his name, told AFP on the spot, and that TV images clearly show him participating in the brief melee.
Police officers then seized the suspect and took him to a police car in an adjacent street, which was immediately surrounded by a thick cordon of police officers. This one left shortly afterwards under the cries and booing of several tens of people present, noted the AFP.
Cristina is alive, because for a reason that has not yet been technically confirmed, the weapon that contained five bullets did not fire although it was triggered, said the president in an address a few hours after the incident.
The head of state denounced a fact of enormous gravity, the most serious since our country regained democracy in 1983. He announced to have decreed a national holiday on Friday, so that in peace and concord the Argentine people can express themselves in defense of life, democracy, and in solidarity with our vice-president.
On the spot, the crossroads in front of the building where Mrs. Kirchner lives was quickly cordoned off after the attack with crime scene tape, and police officers were taking samples.
According to several Argentine media, the suspect is a thirty-year-old Brazilian, an information not confirmed by official sources.
Hundreds of activists have been gathering every evening for ten days in front of Cristina Kirchner's home, to show their support to the former head of state (2007-2015), currently on trial for fraud and corruption.
On August 22, the prosecution requested a 12-year prison sentence and life ineligibility against her in this trial, which concerns the awarding of public contracts in her fiefdom of Santa Cruz (south) during her two presidential terms.
In a highly polarized Argentine political landscape, the indictment has given rise to several demonstrations of support for Ms. Kirchner by the hard core of the Peronist left of which she is the figurehead. Rallies were held last week in several cities. And every evening, several hundred faithful gathered near her home, singing and chanting their support.
They were only a few tens Thursday evening at the time of the incident, and the atmosphere remained strangely calm in the following hours. Among them, Martin Frias, 48, a Peronist of long date, who was sorry with the AFP of a climate of political violence in the country. Violence in the words, which lead to violent acts.
As the hours passed, after the announcement of the attack, the crowd at the intersection of Juncal and Uruguay streets had swelled by a few hundred people, in a noisy but uneventful atmosphere, with a fetish chant of If they touch Cristina, what a mess is brewing!
Thursday night's incident was immediately condemned by the entire government camp as well as the opposition coalition Juntos por el cambio (Together for Change).
The leader of the right-wing opposition and successor of Mrs. Kirchner to the presidency Maurico Macri (2015-2019) expressed his absolute condemnation of the attack suffered by Cristina Kirchner, which fortunately had no consequences for the vice-president.
Abroad, several Latin American leaders, primarily of the left, reacted in the evening. The assassination attempt against Vice President Cristina Kirchner deserves the rejection and condemnation of the entire continent, tweeted Chilean President Gabriel Boric.
All my solidarity to the comrade @CFKArgentina, victim of a fascist criminal who does not know how to respect the differences and the diversity, declared the ex-president and presidential candidate of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Adulated by part of the Peronist left, a divisive figure hated by the opposition, Cristina Kirchner, 69, remains an influential figure in Argentine politics seven years after her departure from the presidency, a year before a presidential election for which she has not made her intentions known.
A verdict in her trial is not expected until late 2022. Even if she is convicted, as president of the senate she has parliamentary immunity and may not go to jail or even run in the general elections in October 2023.