Large demonstrations, called by pro-government political organisations and trade unions are set to begin at midday Friday across Argentina in repudiation of the failed assassination attempt on Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's life.
The shooting attempt on the vice-president's life, perpetrated by a man who apparently acted alone, has stunned the nation. President Alberto Fernández described it as the most serious incident since the return to democracy in 1983.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church and a former archbishop of Buenos Aires, sent Fernández de Kirchner a telegram in which he expressed his "solidarity and closeness at this delicate moment." He said he was praying that "social harmony and respect for democratic values will always prevail."
Reacting to the attack in an address to the country, President Fernández called a national holiday for Friday. Minutes later, the ruling Frente de Todos coalition called for a march to the Plaza de Mayo "to defend democracy" and show solidarity with the vice-president.
"Cristina remains alive because for a reason that has not yet been technically confirmed, the gun, which had five bullets, was not fired despite having been triggered," the president said in his speech broadcast at midnight.
Argentines have been left stunned by the attack. A man, who was detained swiftly by police and the vice-president's security detail, took aim at close range and attempted to fire a gun at Fernández de Kirchner's face outside her home in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.
On Friday, a vigil of militant supporters continued outside her apartment building amid a heavy police presence. The area was cordoned off to bystanders.
"We were waiting for our beloved Cristina. And she came down to greet everyone, like every night, to greet the people. And all of a sudden there was a commotion, and it was that guy who pointed the gun at her. They grabbed him right next to me, they ran him this way and I have the face of that bastard stuck in my head," said Teresa, who did not give her surname, in the early hours of the Friday morning in front of the vice-president's home.
The attacker slipped into the crowd of activists waiting to express their solidarity with the former president (2007-2015), in a demonstration that has been repeated every night since August 22, the day prosecutors in a trial against her and 12 others requested that she be handed 12 years in prison and banned from public office for alleged corruption offences.
CFK supporter Martín Frías, 48, said that after the attack "we know the enemy better, but we are not giving up the fight – it means taking greater precautions, but with the same convictions as always."
Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti and prosecutor Carlos Rivolo, who are in charge of the investigation into Thursday night's attack, carried out an inspection on Friday morning of the area where the attack took place.
Attacker and condemnation
The detainee, identified as 35-year-old Fernando André Sabag Montiel, Brazilian nationality, though he was born to an Argentine mother and Chilean father.
He has lived in Argentina since 1993 and was arrested on March 17, 2021 for carrying non-conventional weapons, according to police sources quoted by the Télam state news agency.
The attack was condemned by Latin American leaders and the head of the Spanish government, as well as the spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Office, Ravina Shamdasani.
"We are aware, we are shocked and we will be following the situation closely," Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva on Friday. "Any kind of political violence is condemnable and it is important to address differences through dialogue; certainly not in this way," she added.
Politicians from across Argentina's political spectrum condemned the attack, including former president Mauricio Macri, leader of the opposition, as well as the powerful Argentine Industrial Union business group and the Supreme Court.
by Liliana Samuel, AFP