Former president Mauricio Macri on Sunday accused members of Argentina’s government of “using” the failed attack on Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner outside her Recoleta apartment as a pretext to “persecute” its “symbolic enemies.”
The opposition leader initially condemned the attempted assassination of the vice-president on Thursday in its immediate aftermath and on Sunday he again described it as a “violent and reprehensible act.” However, he accused Fernández de Kirchner’s allies of using the attack for political gain and launching “a hunt for symbolic enemies to whom they attribute, without any rationality, the instigation of that attack.”
The failed shooting attack stunned Argentina, which has seen low levels of political violence since a return to democracy in 1983. Yet the country is bitterly polarised after years of economic crisis and political infighting and the initial calls for unity and a lowering of tensions seem to have almost immediately collapsed.
Comparing the reaction to last Thursday’s failed attack, carried out by a 35-year-old Brazilian national, to the 1991 assassination attempt on former president Raúl Alfonsín, Macri said that the government and the ruling Frente de Todos coalition is seeking to “weaken two essential pillars of democracy.”
The Juntos por el Cambio leader, who led Argentina from 2015 to 2019, recalled that Alfonsín had “immediately refused to position himself as a victim or to use the attack as a political battering ram."
"But the violent act that put the vice-president's life at risk and that deserved the repudiation of all organisations and leaders, is now being used by Kirchnerism in a partisan way to start a hunt for symbolic enemies to whom they attribute, without any rationality, the instigation of that attack," Macri continued in a letter shared on his social network accounts.
Targeting Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro specifically, Macri alleged that the official had sought to establish “a direct link between newspaper, radio and television editorials and the attack on Cristina Kirchner.”
“This attribution is as irrational as the attack itself and could endanger the lives of journalists, the integrity of the independent media and, subsequently, democracy itself,” warned the opposition leader.
"That is why I come here to warn public opinion about this manoeuvre that is taking advantage of the attack on Cristina Kirchner to establish the persecution of the press and the judiciary", added the former president, which said Kirchnerism "is using the opportunity to weaken two essential pillars of democracy and in this act, change the course of the judicial events that we all know about" – a reference to the ongoing graft trial against the vice-president.
"I emphasise that there is no possibility of democracy without freedom of the press and that freedom of expression is not only the result of the lack of prohibitions, but also of the absence of threats and intimidation; a right of all Argentines as expressed in the National Constitution," continued Macri.
The opposition, he pointed out, “are vigilant, we are together, we believe in freedom of the press and in the independence of the judiciary, we believe in democracy.”
He concluded: “We will not allow ourselves to be confused."