Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner returned to the political front-line on Friday, using her first public appearance since a gunman tried to kill her to voice suspicions over the attack and hint that she may consider another run at the Presidency.
The Senate chief also called on the government to redistribute wealth and issued strong backing for Economy Minister Sergio Massa, as she dangled the possibility of another Casa Rosada candidacy.
"You know that, as always, I will do whatever I have to do to ensure that our people can organise themselves into a project for a country that recovers hope, strength and joy," Fernández de Kirchner stressed.
The 69-year-old, who served as head of state from 2015 to 2019, delivered a much-anticipated speech in Pilar, Buenos Aires Province, at an event organised by the Unión Obrera Metalúrgica (UOM).
Coming just two months after the failed attempt on her life, the vice-president defended her time in office, declaring that her administrations had produced “happy people,” delivering the “joy of having enough money, the joy of going to work and the joy of knowing that there was a future. We Argentines deserve that joy."
In her speech, Fernández de Kirchner also defended the decision she made in 2019 to second an electoral ticket headed by current President Alberto Fernández, with whom relations have been strained.
"I have no regrets, because we were able to achieve our objective, which was not to vote against someone but against some policies," she said, recalling that at the time former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was in prison and former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa was in exile, both allies of her who have faced corruption allegations.
At the same time, she declared that she was ready to "do whatever I have to do to ensure that our society can organise itself into a project for a country that recovers hope, strength and joy" – in an allusion to next year's general elections and rumours that she may consider running for the nation’s highest office once again.
"We have many opportunities, but they require organisation, intelligence and understanding," she declared, seeking to wipe away pessimism in the ruling coalition’s ranks about next year’s general election.
She also went on to call for a lump sum one-off bonus payment to be made to workers to protect them against runaway inflation and falling purchasing power.
"Today the issue of prices, salaries, investment and state spending must be tackled with concrete numbers, not slogans," she declared.
The vice-president also had supportive words for Economy Minister Sergio Massa, saying that he is “making a great effort to manage the consequences of what happened" – notable remarks given her recent public criticism of some government measures.
Attack and financing
The speech took place a little over two months to the day since the shocking attempt was made on Fernández de Kirchner’s life outside her home in the wealthy Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Recoleta.
"Today marks two months and three days since what everyone saw on television. I didn't notice the weapon that was wielded and that was actually intended to blow my head off," she declared, adding that there was “no better place than to be with the workers.”
The former president, against whom prosecutors are seeking 12 years in prison for alleged corruption offences, survived after the assailant’s gun failed to go off.
The attacker, his girlfriend and another man suspected of being the ringleader of the failed attack have been indicted and remanded in custody, while a 21-year-old woman was earlier this week released on insufficient evidence but remains under investigation.
"The justice system – I am resigned [to the fact] – is not going to investigate anything. They want me as the accused, not as a victim," she told those gathered.
The former president faces a trial for alleged corruption that will enter its final stages in two weeks time. She could potentially receive a sentence before the end of the year.
Fernández de Kirchner also attempted to link the failed attack to her opposition rival, Mauricio Macri, and his Juntos por el Cambio coalition. She pointed the finger at business leaders who back the ex-president, accusing them of financing opposition demonstrators.
“The first good conclusion I drew is that those allegedly outraged people who attacked me were not outraged. They were people paid by businessmen who identified with the previous government, with Macrismo, who indebted the Argentine Republic," she remarked, referencing the members of Revolución Federal that has held angry demonstrations against the government.
Four members of the far-right group were this week indicted on charges of “inciting hatred, intolerance and collective violence.”