Telesur Gets It Right: Kirchner’s Argentina Is All About Her

EspañolPresident Cristina Kirchner used Argentina’s May Revolution celebrations to convene yet another taxpayer-funded party in front of the presidential palace. Its sole aim was to boost her prestige, and that of deceased former President Néstor Kirchner, to the level of Argentina’s founding fathers.

Rather than commemorate the culmination of the emblematic 1810 revolution of May 25, Cristina was celebrating the same date but in a different year. On May 25, 2003, her late husband took office, and Kirchnerista historiography marks that day as a refounding of the country. “We have built the Motherland again,” she told the crowds, hardly mincing her words.

However, the best description of the event held on Monday at the historic Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires was issued inadvertently by TeleSUR, a broadcaster largely owned by the Venezuelan government, an ally of the Kirchner administration:
“Caption: Argentina celebrates 12 years since the coming of Kirchnerism. Tweet: Telesur understood today’s celebration at the Plaza better than anyone. Nobody spoke of May 25, 1810.”

The festival held at the Plaza de Mayo included — as it has on previous occasions — musical numbers and Cristina Kirchner’s indispensable appearances, in which she delighted the crowd by dancing to different musical styles. The mass mobilization, however, was not due to patriotic celebration. Instead, Kirchner and her supporters know they’re on the way out, and are trying to hog the limelight for as long as possible.

Kirchner knows that presidents tend to weaken once out of power, so she doesn’t even favor either of the two candidates who aspire to succeed her within the Peronist movement. She seeks to hang onto the Casa Rosada, in which she’s centered almost all political power, until the very last moment, clinging onto it like the sinking Titanic until the waters of infamy close over her administration.

She believes that if one of the two candidates of the Front for Victory — the Peronist faction she leads — wins the presidency and heads up a good administration, or an opposition candidate delivers a forgettable one, she’ll have a shot at being back in the driving seat in 2019.

Before then, however, she has to face the risk of prosecution. To prevent this, she plans to cloak herself once more in parliamentary immunity, in the same way that former President Carlos Menem — whom she criticizes so much — tried to avoid a jail term for arms smuggling by staying on as a serving senator.

The Kirchner name will appear on the ballot in 2015. She may run as a candidate for congresswoman for the province of Buenos Aires, or for representative to regional talking shop Parlasur — a position she wouldn’t have to take up until 2019, but would give her national visibility now, as her name would be on ballots nationwide this year.

However, she’ll have a tougher job ahead of her in facing down corruption charges, even before she returns to the polls.

Celebrations began on Thursday, May 21, with the reopening of the former Central Post Office, renamed the Néstor Kirchner Cultural Center — another demonstration of the attempt to build a cult of personality around the 21st-century Peronist power couple.

The final cost exceeded its budget by five times, perhaps in an attempt to ensure that the family’s links with corruption and wasteful spending are enshrined in history. Its three pianos, purchased for US$530,000, are a symbol of their irresponsible, pointless opulence.

Cristina Kirchner’s government comes to an end, leaving an authoritarian legacy, a crippling inheritance for anyone who cares about individual rights, and the complete arrogation by the state of the right to privacy. The music and the celebrations on May 25 were completely off-key. But her departure from office? That, at least, is music to our ears.

Translated by Rebeca Morla.

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