Trials, tales of corruption – yet still a candidate
She’s facing a battery of allegations in the court yet her supporters see past it all. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president who inspires both amor and animosity in almost equal measures, will be here for some time to come.
She is facing a battery of corruption
allegations and criminal
charges. Yet despite the evidence
mounting against in the courts against
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the
former president’s hard-core backers
remained unperturbed. And that makes
her a leading – if undeclared – contender
to regain power in next year’s elections.
Hundreds of supporters thronged
the street outside when investigators
searched the former president’s
apartment recently. Cries of support for
the former president rise from crowds
during protests against the austerity
policies of the man who replaced her
as president, Mauricio Macri.
“Many women voted for the government
of Mauricio Macri and now they
regret it,” Teresa Rollano said while
walking arm-in-arm with a friend at a
recent protest. “The people want Cristina
because she represents the working
class. She has given us all of our
One recent survey by local pollster
Ricardo Rouvier & Associates said Fernández
de Kirchner is almost neckand-neck
with Macri in terms of support
ahead of the October 2019 election.
That’s remarkable for a politician
who faces numerous formal investigations
into alleged bribery, money-laundering
and criminal association dating
back to her own administration from
2007 to 2015. Then there’s the charges
related to that of her late husband Néstor
Fernández de Kirchner, now a senator,
hasn’t been convicted of any crimes
yet – a first trial is scheduled to start in
February – and she fiercely denies any
wrongdoing, accusing officials of “persecuting”
her to distract from the current
But the local press continues to be
filled with scandals: the bags of millions
of dollars in cash tossed over a
convent wall, the mysterious death of
Alberto Nisman, the corruption conviction
of Amado Boudou, her former vicepresident,
the ‘notebooks’ scandal that
has uncovered a network of bribery
Part of her strength, it seems, stems
from disenchantment with Macri, whose
budget-cutting efforts have cut public-sector
jobs, raised utility bills and
hiked bus fares without managing to
revive the economy or rein in soaring
His decision this year to seek IMF aid
has also roused fears among those who
blame the international agency for a
devastating economic crash in 2001,
when the government was forced into
the largest debt default in history.
Their backers credit the Kirchners
with leading the country out of that
crisis, even if many point to Latin
America’s commodity boom. Macri’s
backers blame their policies for eventually
creating the country’s current
Under Fernández de Kirchner, “I was
able to buy a new car, fix my house and
travel on a plane for the first time,” said
Gloria Buffarini, a hairdresser. “I used
to pay 600 pesos a month for electricity.
Now, it’s 3,000.”
But she also inspires deep animosity.
Detractors blame her for endemic corruption
and the deterioration of the
economy, which was choked by restrictions
on imports, exports and foreign
currency exchanges in the latter part
of her administration.
“Not since [Juan Domingo] Perón
has there been another leader who has
generated such a situation of love and
hate,” said Mariel Fornoni of the Management
& Fit consultancy. She said
Fernández de Kirchner has a “hard
core of followers who are going to vote
for her no matter what she does.”
The former president infuriates people
like Patricio Canbelari, a language
teacher, who said, “Most want to see
her arrested,” and called her a “whitegloved
Will she go to jail? Fernández de
Kirchner’s Senate seat grants her immunity
from arrest but not from prosecution.
That could be lifted only by an
unlikely vote of two-thirds of the
country’s senators. While a conviction
might theoretically bar her from running
for office, that would only occur
after appeals were exhausted – a process
that would take many years.
Fornoni said, many Argentines believe
that although corruption was rife
during Fernández de Kirchner’s term,
it exists in Macri’s government as well.
“They say: ‘They were probably corrupt,
but I lived better,’” Fornoni said.
Only one thing it seems is for sure.
CFK isn’t going anywhere soon.