President Alberto Fernández told his political backers and supporters on Saturday that he wants to rid Argentina of “hatred” and put the country “back on its feet,” as he led the October 17 Peronist Loyalty Day celebrations.
Yet, inthe same speech, he took a jab at the opposition, saying Argentina was lucky to have a Peronist administration in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
"God must be a Peronist because thank goodness that Peronism is ruling at this time," he said.
On the 75th anniversary of a crucial day in Argentina’s political history, Fernández led a invite-only event at the headquarters of the powerful CGT umbrella union grouping at Azopardo 802.
Among those in attendance were CGT leaders Héctor Daer, Gerardo Martínez, Andrés Rodríguez, José Luis Lingeri and Antonio Caló, as well as Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero, Interior Minister Eduardo "Wado" de Pedro and Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa. Regional leaders including Tucumán Province Governor Juan Manzur, Quilmes Mayor Mayra Mendoza, Merlo Mayor Gustavo Menéndez, were also present.
Bookending a week that started with large anti-government protests on Monday, a long caravan of vehicles also drove through the capital in support of the Peronist administration and the wider movement, despite restrictions imposed to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina. Small groups of demonstrators also took to the streets.
The day began with a mobilisation by the powerful Camioneros truckers union, led by veteran union leader Hugo Moyano, which cut off the Avenida 9 de Julio thoroughfare, backing up traffic for several blocks.
In his speech at CGT headquarters, focused on the movement’s history and his current administration’s attempts to follow in its legacy, Fernández paid tribute to former president Juan Domingo Perón and that “history [had] changed forever” on October 17, declaring that on that day those forgotten by society had reclaimed their own place within it.
Fernández said that “Peronism always maintained the rule of being loyal to its people," hailing the movement for giving “rights to minorities.”
The annual celebration remembers what is seen by many as the founding day of the Peronist movement, when a massive labour demonstration at the Plaza de Mayo took place demanding that the general be liberated from jail.
"On September 19, 1945, many Argentines filled the streets demanding the resignation of a colonel who was giving rights to the people. They got emboldened. They arrested him, took him to [the jail at] Martín García [island] and that was the beginning of this whole story," said the president.
"When the people saw their colonel, who had given them rights and recognised their place in society, they took to the streets to claim. History changed forever," he declared, saying the events had allowed “millions of forgotten Argentines” to rise up.
Referencing those who were demonstrating in support of Peronism and his government, Fernández thanked those who “took to the streets,” though he admitted he “would have liked them to stay home,” given the coronavirus pandemic.
“The virus advances but it does not defeat us because we are still standing because we are convinced that we will do whatever it takes for Argentina to rebuild itself," he said.
Addressing the movement today and the government he leads, the president vowed to “end the Argentina of hatred.”
“We are going to build another country with everyone, with those who think like us and those who have differences with us," he said.
Describing Argentina as “sick” (a reference to the Covid-19 pandemic), Fernández said that the country would be “cured by Peronism.”
"We are going to put this collapsed Argentina on its feet. We are going to end the Argentina of hatred. Because we believe in diversity," he declared.
“Millions of Argentines demand another future; a country that does not leave them aside, a country that integrates them,” he said.
Kirchner calls for patience
Head of the Frente de Todos bloc in the lower house, Máximo Kirchner, used an interview Saturday to call for “patience” as the government attempts to get Argentina’s economy back on its feet.
Questioned about high poverty rates and this year’s projected economic decline, Kirchner – the son of former presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – said Argentines “have to be patient” but that the country would “move forward.”
"You have to be patient and understand that this is going to happen and we are going to move forward, with a lot of will and discipline," said the leader of the La Cámpora youth organisation.
He said that "the markets want to continue governing in Argentina, but they have to understand that the economy is managed by the government."
Kirchner also referred to criticism of the ruling administration issued by former president Mauricio Macri in a series of media interviews this week. The lamwaker said the PRO party leader’s re-appearance was neither good nor bad news, but worth ignoring.
"If he had no responsibility as president, he will have less now [he’s] in opposition,” he told AM 750. “His administration created a disaster and today he wants to teach us?"