President Alberto Fernández, together with the leaders of Mexico, Colombia and Bolivia, this week slammed the "unjustifiable judicial persecution" of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in a joint statement.
The comments were delivered in a joint statement read out by Argentina’s Presidential Spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti at the Casa Rosada on Thursday and came in response to the news that prosecutors are seeking a 12-year jail term for Argentina’s vice-president in a trial investigating alleged public works graft ('Vialidad').
As well as Fernández, Bolivia President Luis Arce, Colombia President Gustavo Petro, and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also signed the statement.
"We express our absolute rejection of the unjustifiable judicial persecution that the current Vice-President of the Argentine Republic, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has been suffering," said the presidents.
"Such persecution aims to remove Cristina Fernández de Kirchner from public, political and electoral life, as well as to bury the values and ideals she represents, with the ultimate goal of implementing a neoliberal model," the four leaders warned.
In recent years, they noted, Argentina’s Judiciary "has opened numerous cases against her, many of which have had to be shelved in the absence of any solid evidence."
Fernández de Kirchner has been acquitted in several cases for alleged crimes that occurred when she was head of state from 2007 to 2015, but she still faces five trials.
"Together with the presidents, we express our strongest support for @CFKArgentina and roundly condemn the strategies of judicial persecution to eliminate political opponents," wrote President Fernández, as he shared the communiqué he signed with his regional peers on social networks.
According to Noticias Argentinas, citing official sources, the president "had been talking to his peers about the unfairness and concern of the situation [facing Cristina Fernández de Kirchner] and last night [Wednesday] the idea of expressing himself publicly came up."
Allegations and trial
Fernández de Kirchner, 69, is charged along with 12 others with the crimes of aggravated illicit association and fraudulent administration in a case about alleged corruption in the tendering of public works when she was president between 2007 and 2015.
The trial began in 2019 and judges are expected to issue a verdict before the end of the year. The vice-president, who also presides over the Senate, enjoys parliamentary privileges that protect her from both imprisonment and disqualification. Only if the ruling is confirmed by the Supreme Court or if she loses her parliamentary immunity could a sentence against her become effective.
Amid thriving political polarisation, the prosecutor's request for Fernández de Kirchner’s jailing and disqualification from public office on Monday has multiplied the vice-president’s criticism of the court and anger among her supporters, who have called for demonstrations in defence of the veteran leader.
On Wednesday, Fernández de Kirchner received messages of solidarity from former heads of state and government officials across the region.
"I express my unconditional solidarity with the vice-president of Argentina and president of the Argentine Senate, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner," Brazilian ex-president Dilma Rousseff wrote on her Twitter account.
Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales, meanwhile, said on the same social network that "sister @CFKArgentina is the victim of an inclement attack of 'lawfare', or political warfare that uses justice as a weapon, to disqualify her."
"We repudiate the judicial and media harassment against @CFKArgentina," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said on Twitter.
Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel also expressed his support for Fernández de Kirchner on social networks.