Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

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This name uses Argentine naming customs. The paternal family name is Fernández and the husband's family name is Kirchner.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Cristinakirchnermensaje2010.jpg
President of Argentina
Incumbent
Assumed office
10 December 2007
Vice President Julio Cobos
Amado Boudou
Preceded by Néstor Kirchner
First Lady of Argentina
In office
25 May 2003 – 10 December 2007
President Néstor Kirchner
Preceded by Hilda de Duhalde
Succeeded by Néstor Kirchner
Personal details
Born Cristina Elisabet Fernández
(1953-02-19) 19 February 1953 (age 61)
La Plata, Argentina
Political party Justicialist Party
Other political
affiliations
Front for Victory (2003–present)
Spouse(s) Néstor Kirchner (1975–2010)
Children Máximo
Florencia
Alma mater National University of La Plata
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature
Website Official website

Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner (Spanish pronunciation: [kɾisˈtina eˈlisaβet ferˈnandes ðe ˈkiɾʃneɾ] ( ); born 19 February 1953), known as Cristina Kirchner[1] and often referred to by her initials CFK,[2][3][note 1] is the 52nd and current President of Argentina and widow of former president Néstor Kirchner. She is the second woman to serve as President of Argentina (after Isabel Martínez de Perón, 1974–1976), the first directly elected female president and the first woman re-elected. A member of the Justicialist Party, Fernández served one term as National Deputy and three terms as National Senator for both Santa Cruz and Buenos Aires provinces.

Born in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province, Fernández is said to be a graduate of the National University of La Plata although the existence of her title remains in discussion.[6][7][8] She met her husband during her studies, and they moved to Santa Cruz to work as lawyers. In May 1991, she was elected to the provincial legislature. Between 1995 and 2007, she was repeatedly elected to the Argentine National Congress, both as a National Deputy and National Senator. During Kirchner's presidency (2003–2007) she acted as First Lady. Fernández was chosen as the Front for Victory presidential candidate in 2007.

In the October 2007 general election she obtained 45.3% of the vote and a 22% lead over her nearest rival, avoiding a runoff election. She was inaugurated on 10 December 2007, and was re-elected to a second term in the first round of the October 2011 general election, with 54.1% and 37.3% over the next candidate, Hermes Binner. Critics of Kirchner's administration have charged it with corruption, crony capitalism, falsification of public statistics, harassment of Argentina's independent media and use of the tax agency as a censorship tool.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Early life and education[edit]

Fernández during her youth

Fernández was born on February 19, 1953[4] in Tolosa, a suburb west of La Plata, Buenos Aires Province. She is a daughter of Eduardo Fernández (of Spanish heritage), a bus driver, and Ofelia Esther Wilhelm (of German descent).[15][16] She studied law at the National University of La Plata during the 1970s and became active in the Peronist Youth.[17]

Political career[edit]

Along with Néstor Kirchner, Cristina sympathized with the Peronist Youth during her university studies. However, the two never joined the Montoneros (a guerrilla organization with close ties to the Peronist Youth during the period 1970–1976), nor engaged in any notable political activism during that time. When Isabel Perón was deposed by the 1976 Argentine coup d'état, they left La Plata for Río Gallegos and worked as lawyers.[16][18] Cristina began her political career in the late 1980s[4] when she was elected to the Santa Cruz Provincial Legislature in 1989, a position to which she was re-elected in 1993.

In 1995, Fernández was elected to represent Santa Cruz in the Senate. She was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1997 and returned to the Senate in 2001. Fernández helped with her husband's successful campaign for the presidency in 2003, but without making joint public appearances.[19] In the first round of presidential election on 27 April 2003, former president Carlos Saúl Menem won the greatest number of votes (25%), but failed to get the votes necessary to win an overall majority. A second-round run-off vote between Menem and runner-up Néstor Kirchner was scheduled for 18 May. Feeling certain that he was about to face a sound electoral defeat, Menem decided to withdraw his candidacy, thus automatically making Kirchner the new president, with 22% of the votes. This was the lowest number in the history of the country.[20]

During her husband '​s term, Fernández de Kirchner was First Lady of the country. In that role, she worked as an itinerant ambassador for his government. Her highly combative speech style polarized Argentine politics, recalling the style of Eva Perón. Although she repeatedly rejected the comparison later, Fernández de Kirchner once said in an interview that she identified herself "with the Evita of the hair in a bun and the clenched fist before a microphone" (the typical image of Eva Perón during public speeches) more than with the "miraculous Eva" of her mother's time, who had come "to bring work and the right to vote for women".[21][22][23]

At the October 2005 legislative elections, Fernández de Kirchner was her party's main candidate for Senator in the Province of Buenos Aires district. She ran a heated campaign against Hilda González de Duhalde; they were the wives of the sitting president Néstor Kirchner and the former president Eduardo Duhalde.[24]

Election to presidency of Argentina[edit]

Campaigning with her husband, then-President Néstor Kirchner (outgoing), and their respective running mates, Daniel Scioli and Julio Cobos.

With Fernández leading all the pre-election polls by a wide margin, her challengers were trying to force her into a run-off. A candidate needs either more than 45% of the vote, or 40% of the vote and a lead of more than 10 percentage points over the nearest rival, to win outright without a run-off.[25] She won the election decisively in the first round with nearly 45% of the vote, followed by 23% for Elisa Carrió (candidate for the Civic Coalition) and 17% for former Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna.[26] Kirchner was popular among the suburban working class and the rural poor, while Carrió and Lavagna both received more support from the urban middle class.[27] Kirchner lost the election in the large cities of Buenos Aires and Rosario.[27]

On 14 November the president-elect announced the names of her new cabinet, which was sworn in on 10 December. Of the twelve ministers appointed, seven had been ministers in Néstor Kirchner's government, while the other five took office for the first time. The selections anticipated the continuation of the policies implemented by Néstor Kirchner.[28]

She began a four-year term on 10 December 2007, facing challenges including inflation, poor public security, international credibility, a faulty energy infrastructure and protests from the agricultural sectors over an increase of nearly 30% on export taxes.[28] Kirchner was the second female president of Argentina, after Isabel Martínez de Perón but, unlike Perón, Kirchner was elected to the office, whereas Isabel Perón was elected as vice president of Juan Perón, and automatically assumed the presidency on his death.[27] The transition from Néstor Kirchner to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was also the first time a democratic head of state was replaced by their spouse without the death of either. Néstor Kirchner stayed active in politics despite not being the president, and worked alongside his wife, Cristina. The press developed the term "presidential marriage" to make reference to both of them at once. Some political analysts as Pablo Mendelevich compared this type of government with a diarchy.[29]

Presidency[edit]

Presidential styles of
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Presidential Standard of Argentina.svg
Reference style Su Excelencia Señora Presidente de la Nación Argentina
"Her Excellency Madam President of the Argentine Nation"
Spoken style Presidente de la Nación
"President of the Nation"
Alternative style Señora Presidente
"Madam President"

2007[edit]

During the first days of Fernández's presidency, Argentina's relations with the United States deteriorated as a result of allegations made by an Assistant United States Attorney of illegal campaign contributions, in a case known as the maletinazo (suitcase scandal). According to these allegations, Venezuelan agents tried to pressure Venezuelan American citizen Guido Antonini Wilson to lie about the origin of US$790,550 in cash found in his suitcase on 4 August 2007 at a Buenos Aires airport. U.S. prosecutors allege the money was sent to help Kirchner's presidential campaign.[30]

Fernández de Kirchner and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez called the allegations "a trashing operation" and part of a conspiracy orchestrated by the US to divide Latin American nations. On 19 December 2007, she restricted the US ambassador's activities and limited his meetings to Foreign Ministry officials; a treatment reserved for hostile countries, in the opinion of a former US Assistant Secretary of State.[31][32] However, on 31 January in a special meeting with Kirchner the US Ambassador to Argentina, Earl Anthony Wayne, clarified that the allegations "were never made by the United States government", saying that the prosecutors making the charges are part of the independent judicial branch of the US government, and the dispute cooled down.[33]

Elisa Carrió and María Estenssoro, both high-ranking members of the main opposition parties, have claimed that the Argentine government's response to the allegations and its criticism of the US are a "smokescreen"; that the US involvement in the affair was merely symptomatic, and the root cause of the scandal is corruption in the Argentine and Venezuelan governments.[34]

2008[edit]

Road blockade during the 2008 Argentine government conflict with the agricultural sector in Villa María, Córdoba

In March 2008, Kirchner introduced a new sliding-scale taxation system for agricultural exports, effectively raising levies on soybean exports from 35% to 44% at the time of the announcement.[35] This led to a nationwide lockout by farming associations, starting on 12 March, with the aim of forcing the government to back down on the new taxation scheme. They were joined on 25 March by thousands of pot-banging demonstrators massed around the Buenos Aires Obelisk and in front of the presidential palace.

Protests extended across the country. In Buenos Aires there were violent incidents between government supporters and opponents, to which the police was accused of wilfully turning a blind eye.[36] The media was harshly critical of Luis D'Elía, a former government official who took part in the incidents, with some media sources and members of the opposition (notably Elisa Carrió), claiming he and his followers had disrupted the protest pursuant to the government's orders.[37][38] On 1 April, a government-organized demonstration was attended by thousands of pro-government protesters, who marched through downtown Buenos Aires in support of the bill increasing Argentina's export taxes on the basis of a sliding scale.

Fernández in a meeting with the nation's governors.

The large majorities in the Argentine Congress held by the Front for Victory (FPV) could not ultimately guarantee a legislative blank check: on 16 July 2008, the presidentially sponsored bill met with deadlock, and was ultimately defeated by the tie-breaking negative vote of vice-president Julio Cobos. The controversy cost the FPV 16 Congressmen and 4 Senators by way of defections. This put an end to the 2008 Argentine government conflict with the agricultural sector, though it cost Cobos influence within the Kirchner's administration. Despite of the cold relation between Cobos and Cristina since that event, he completed his term as vice president.

A poll result published in El País, Spain's most widely circulated daily newspaper, revealed that following the protests, Fernández's approval rating had "plummeted" from 57.8% at the start of her administration[39] to an unprecedented 23%.[40]

Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in a demonstration in Plaza de Mayo square, Buenos Aires.

Once recovered from the conflict with agrarian interests, Fernández de Kirchner's job approval ratings rose by 30% (Poliarquía, 22 August 2008). Her inflexible handling of the protests and reluctance to review the policies that sparked the protest have led to speculation that her late husband, predecessor in office and leader of the Justicialist Party, Néstor Kirchner, controlled her administration. The British weekly newspaper The Economist has described this situation as Kirchner "paying the price for her husband's pig-headedness". On 20 October 2008, Fernández proposed the transfer of nearly US $30 billion in private pension holdings to the social security system, a law that was passed by Congress in late November 2008. president Cristina Kirchner is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.[41]

Also in 2008, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner vetoed the "Law of protection of the glaciers", which had been approved almost unanimously in Congress (only three senators opposed the law). Critics have stated that the President's attitude would threaten over 75% of the country's water reserves.[42]

2009[edit]

Following the 28 June 2009, mid-term elections, the ruling FPV's party list lost its absolute majority in both houses of Congress, shedding a further 24 seats in the Lower House (including allies) and 4 in the Senate. They lost in the four most important electoral districts (home to 60% of Argentines), and among these, the loss was narrow only in the Province of Buenos Aires. The FPV obtained a very narrow victory, overall, as a percentage of the national vote, and retained their plurality in Congress which was reflected in strengthened opposition alliances, notably the center-right Unión Pro, the centrist Civic Coalition and the left-wing Proyecto Sur, when elected candidates in both chambers took office on 11 December 2009.[43]

Allegations of impropriety have contributed increasingly to the Kirchners' decline in approval. The couple's own, latest federal financial disclosure in July 2009 revealed an increase in their personal assets by seen times since Néstor Kirchner's 2003 inauguration. The increase was partly the product of land deals in El Calafate, a scenic, Santa Cruz Province town where the couple had long vacationed and owned property (including 450 acres (1.8 km2) of land and two hotels).[44]

On 17 October 2009 Fernández de Kirchner proposed the compulsory submission of DNA samples in cases related to the dirty war, in a move lauded by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, but excoriated by opposition figures as a political move against Clarín Media Group Chairperson Ernestina Herrera de Noble, who is in litigation over the Noble siblings case and whose previous cordial relations with Kirchnerism had recently soured.[45] Similar motives are alleged by the opposition against the president's Media Law, which would restrict the number of media licences per proprietor and allocate a greater share of these to state and NGOs, thereby limiting the influence of Clarín and the conservative La Nación.[46]

The president's proposed enactment of mandatory primary elections for all of Argentina's myriad political parties, and for every elected post, was likewise rejected by opposition figures, who charged that these reforms could stymy minor parties and the formation of new ones.[47][48]

Following charges of embezzlement filed by a local attorney, Enrique Piragini, on 29 October, Federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide ordered an accounting expert to investigate the origin of the Kirchners' wealth. Public records show that since their arrival to power in 2003, the declared assets of the Kirchners increased by 572%. A preliminary report on the investigation by the Argentine Anti Corruption Office (OA) established that the official figures provided by the Kirchners "don't stack up".[49] The investigation was suspended by Judge Oyarbide on 30 December, though a week later, Piragini appealed the ruling.[50]

On 29 October 2009 she launched a universal child benefit plan (Spanish: Asignación Universal por Hijo)[51] as a way to fight poverty with the goal to reach approximately five million children and youths. Since its creation, the program has been lauded for having boosted school attendance rates and reduced poverty among families.[52]

2010[edit]

Kirchner and the President of China Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The year began with controversy surrounding the president's order that a US$6.7 billion escrow account be opened at the Central Bank for the purpose of retiring high-interest bonds, whose principal is tied to inflation. The move met with the opposition of Central Bank president Martín Redrado, who refused to implement it, and following an impasse, he was dismissed by presidential decree on 7 January 2010.[53] Redrado refused to abide by the initial decree removing him from the presidency of the Central Bank, however, and petitioned for a judicial power to keep him in office. Accordingly, the president enacted another decree for his dismissal, citing misconduct on Redrado's part.[54] The legitimacy of this new decree was questioned as well, as his dismissal would deny Redrado due process. Congress was in recess period at the time, but most of its opposition members considered returning to override the decrees through an extraordinary session.[55] The session became a source of controversy as well: Kirchner considered that, according to the 63rd article of the Constitution, only the President may call for an extraordinary session while the Congress is in recess. Cobos replied instead that all regulations concerning decrees require the immediate advice and consent of Congress, that the body's by-laws (56 and 57) allow extraordinary sessions called by any member, and that the commission formed for that purpose functions at all times, even during recess.[56]

The planned use of foreign exchange reserves through a Necessity and Urgency Decree was itself questioned by several opposition figures, who argued that such a decree may not meet a threshold of "necessity" and "urgency" required by the Constitution of Argentina for its enactment.[55] Judge María José Sarmiento handed down a ruling preventing said use of reserves, and the Government reacted by appealing the ruling.[57] president Kirchner defended the policy as a cost saving maneuver, whereby government bonds paying out 15 percent interest would be retired from the market.[58] The move, however, also provided numerous vulture funds (holdouts from the 2005 debt restructuring who had resorted to the courts in a bid for higher returns on their defaulted bonds) a legal argument against the central bank's independence,[citation needed] thus facilitating a judgment lien on 12 January against a central bank account in New York.[59] Judge Sarmiento also annulled the decree that removed Redrado and reinstated him as President of the Central Bank the following day. The ruling refuted claims of misconduct cited by president Cristina Kirchner to justify his removal.[60] International media described the attempted removal of Redrado as authoritarian, while criticizing the planned use of reserves for debt retirement, as well as accelerating spending growth, as fiscally irresponsible. Opposition Congresswoman Elisa Carrió, a candidate in the 2011 presidential campaign, has raised the possibility of impeachment procedures against Christina Kirchner.[61][62][63] At the start of February 2010, one of Fernández de Kirchner's private assessors resigned his post due to the claims of "illicit gain". Just two weeks afterwards, another of her private assessors, Julio Daniel Álvarez, resigned for the same reason.[64]

On 22 February 2010 (2010-02-22),[65] British oil explorer Desire Petroleum started drilling exploration wells some 60 miles (97 km) north of the disputed Falkland Islands, despite strong opposition from Argentina which took the issue to the Latin America and Caribbean presidents summit where it received unanimous support.[66] According to geological surveys carried out in 1998, there could be 60 billion barrels (9.5×10^9 m3) of oil in the area around the islands but the initial 2010 drilling produced poor results.[67] As a result Desire's share price plummeted and the company announced further drilling could begin later in 2010.[68]

In March 2010, Fernández de Kirchner made an historic amends trip to Peru, a country with whom relations had been adversely affected following the Carlos Menem administration's illegal sale of weapons to Ecuador in the 1990s.[69] In the same month Fernández received a visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Buenos Aires, where she received great support for the way her administration was managing its foreign debt[70] and emphasized the positive relationship between the two countries[71] something which was not reported by local major news media.[72]

In April 2010, Chile's new president Sebastián Piñera was received in Buenos Aires on his first foreign tour abroad and reaffirmed the current strong ties between the two countries, after which Cristina Fernández attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.. Afterwards President Barack Obama thanked Argentina for its role in international stabilization and earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.[73] Back in Buenos Aires, she received the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, the first such visit in Argentina's history. Two days later, the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyễn Tấn Dũng arrived.[74]

On 19 April, she was invited to the bicentenary of the independence celebrations in Venezuela, where she was the main speaker in front of the National Assembly.[75] She signed 25 trade agreements with Venezuela relating to food, technology and energy.[76]

In May 2010, the President traveled to Spain for the European Union – Latin America and the Caribbean summit, where she was asked to compare the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis and the 2001 Argentine's default.[77] Back in Buenos Aires, during the Argentina Bicentennial celebrations, Cristina Fernández did not participate in the military parade of 5,000 troops (which included delegations of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, etc.) on Avenida 9 de Julio, which was considered a gesture of contempt towards the Argentine Armed Forces.[78]

Kirchner and Ban Ki-moon

In June 2010, her administration completed the debt swap (which had been started by former president Néstor Kirchner in 2005) clearing 92% of the bad debt left from its sovereign default of 2001.[79] Argentina's external debt now represented 30% of the country's GDP,[80] whilst the Central Bank foreign reserves reached US$49 billion,[81] more than the amount that was available when the decision to pay foreign debt earlier in the year was taken. Also in June 2010, she gave a speech at the International Trade Union Confederation (CSI) Global Summit, held in Vancouver, Canada, where she asserted "many Euro-zone countries today have applied the same policies that led Argentina to disaster (in 2001)", stating "it's an inescapable responsibility of the government to intervene in the financial system".[82]

Later, she traveled to Toronto to attend the G20 Summit and spoke against the EU fiscal austerity plans, fearing it would lead to a slowdown in the global economy. French President Nicolas Sarkozy responded by saying that Latin American representatives who reject the adjustments made in the Eurozone do not know the "harassment" the Euro had experienced, that had led several nations to implement strong budget-cutting measures. Cristina Fernández responded he should not "challenge somebody" just because he does not "agree" with what they say, and clarified that Argentina is interested in the euro because parts of its reserves are held in euros and that she is "sure that Sarkozy does not have even one cent in Argentine pesos in his Central Bank". Later, while addressing the press, she added, "In Latin America we can give lectures about harassment and seizure."[83] She also had a chance to speak with new British PM David Cameron.

In July 2010, she traveled to the People's Republic of China with the goal of strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries[84] On her return, she signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Argentina.[85][86]

She reaffirmed her policy of debt reduction in announcing to continue to pay foreign debt with Central Bank foreign reserves which reached a historic record of $51 billion USD in July.[87][88] In August 2010, Fernández de Kirchner began her Twitter account.[89] She preceded the 39th Mercosur summit at San Juan where the trade bloc agreed to reduce customs fees and signed a free-trade deal with Egypt.[90]

Kirchner with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany in October 2010

In September 2010, it was announced that Argentina was elected president of the Group of 77 +China and prepared to act as a ‘bridge” with G-20 major economies to which it also belongs[91] Fernández de Kirchner visited Chile during their Bicentenary celebrations. She assisted at the baptism of a Chilean baby, Anaís Escobar Maldonado, born in the Argentine Air Force Mobile Field Hospital deployed at Curico after the earthquake. The visit had a high profile in the media because of the possible extradition to Chile of Sergio Apablaza. She met with president Sebastián Piñera and participated in the festivities at the national stadium.[92] She confirmed the celebration of the Third bi-national cabinet meeting for next October.[93][94]

On 30 September, she hosted the UNASUR presidents' emergency summit at Buenos Aires due to the Ecuador crisis. She then began an official visit to Germany the next day in order to participate as a Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair and meet Chancellor Angela Merkel. In October she inaugurated the Three News Agencies World Congress held in Bariloche.[95] This same month, as part of the 2006 civilian nuclear-power reactivation program, Fernández de Kirchner reopened the Pilcaniyeu uranium enrichment plant, put on hold in the 1990s, due to shortages of natural gas.[96]

Kirchner passing by her husband's coffin, lying in state at the Latin American patriots hall of the Casa Rosada.

On the morning of 27 October 2010, Néstor Kirchner died from heart failure at Jose Formenti hospital in El Calafate, Santa Cruz Province. Two coronary operations had been required earlier that year. On 7 February 2010, he had developed problems with his carotid artery and needed surgery. On 11 September, additional surgery was necessary because of coronary artery blockage and an angioplasty was performed. Néstor Kirchner had a state funeral at the Casa Rosada.[97][98][99]

Following the death of her husband, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner resumed activities and went to Asia for the G20 Seoul summit. Upon her return, she announced the Paris Club agreed to debt talks without International Monetary Fund intervention as had been proposed by Argentina since 2008. These negotiations settled the last portion of the sovereign debt 2001 crisis remaining after the restructuring of debts in 2005 and 2009.[100] In November she took part in the UNASUR Summit at Guyana, followed by hosting the XX Ibero-American Summit at Mar del Plata.

2011[edit]

Kirchner on election night.

The 2011 year was influenced by the general election in October. The youth organization Cámpora increased its influence in the government, disputing offices and candidacies with the traditional hierarchies of the Justicialist Party and the CGT. Cristina Fernández chose Daniel Filmus as her candidate for the mayor of Buenos Aires.[101] On 21 June 2011, she announced she would run for a second term as president. A few days later, she announced Amado Boudou would run for vice-president on her ticket. She personally chose most of the candidates for deputy in the Congress, favoring members of the Cámpora. She had highly publicized disagreements with Brazil regarding the trade quotas between the two countries. She also had a major dispute with the United States after seizing an American military airplane, accusing the U.S. of smuggling in undeclared firearms, surveillance equipment, and morphine for ulterior motives.[102]

Kirchner giving a speech in the United Nations regarding the Falkland Islands.

On 22 September, she addressed the United Nations. She supported the Palestinian request to be seated in the General Assembly, and threatened to cancel flights from Chile to the Falkland Islands in order to advance Argentine claims of sovereignty over the Islands.[103] The 2011 election took place in October, and she won with 54.1% of the vote.

Second term[edit]

2012[edit]

After the electoral victory of 2011, the ruling party regained control over both chambers of Congress.[104] They initiated a period of fiscal reform, which included several tax increases, limits to wage increases, but increases in protectionism and reorganization of state-owned enterprises.[105] Congress passed an anti-terrorism law, criticized for its vague and imprecise terms, that may allow it to be used against political opponents of the government.[106] Hugo Moyano, main union leader, who was a strong supporter of kirchnerism, began to oppose the President.[107] Moyano would later organize a big protest at Plaza de Mayo, with 30,000 people, requesting the abolition of capital gains tax.[108] However, her close union ally Enrique Omar Suárez, another powerful union leader, has remained in support of her.[109] The Vice President Amado Boudou got involved in a political scandal, suspected of favoring the Ciccone currency printing business.[110] The poor maintenance of rail services led to a rail disaster that left 51 dead and 703 injured.[111] The government has also begun to devote more attention to the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute (prompted by the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War).[112] Fernández also supported the nationalization of YPF.[113]

In 2012, the government tightened currency controls, allowing access to other currencies only to people who traveled outside the country.[114] The blockade of other currencies affected financial activities and led to a black market in currencies.[115] On 15 May, The governor of the Buenos Aires province Daniel Scioli voiced his intention to run for the presidency in 2015.[116] On 11 July, Fernández criticized the administration of the Buenos Aires province because the provincial government didn't have money to pay their workers wages. The province requested a transfer of funds from the federal government but were initially denied by the President. On 20 July, the federal government agreed to transfer funds to the province.[117] Moyano claimed the denial to transfer funds was to harm Scioli's image, as Scioli has the highest rate of approval of any governor in the nation.[118][119]

200,000 people took part in a cacerolazo against Kirchner.

Several other political scandals came to light in 2012, such as the liberation of sentenced prisoners for government-organized demonstrations,[120] political advocacy of The Cámpora at elementary and high schools,[121] and the creation of paramilitary units in Jujuy, led by Milagro Sala.[citation needed] More than 200,000 people in many cities of the country took part in a protest against Kirchner in September 2012,[122] the protest was followed by a protest of the gendarmeria and another of the CTA.[123] The largest demonstration was the 8N, which took place on 8 November.

The managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, warned the Kirchner Administration of the need for Argentina to provide the IMF with reliable estimates of inflation and growth. A BBC report noted that, while official government data reported inflation at 10 percent, private economists estimated the true rate at around 24 percent.[124] Kirchner rejected Lagarde's demands.[125]

Her administration sought to increase bilateral relations with Angola and Iran. Since there is suspected Iranian involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing, Kirchner's relations with the Argentine Jewish community deteriorated.[126] Fernández gave her United Nations General Assembly speech where she again criticized Britain over the Falklands (Malvinas) issue, and Iran for the 1994 AMIA bombing while giving her support for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and an eventual Palestinian state.[127]

The Argentine navy training ship ARA Libertad (Q-2) was impounded in Ghana in October 2012 as part of an extended legal battle between Kirchner's administration and "holdout" holders of Argentine government debt who had refused to accept the earlier write-down of principal and who continue to pursue full payment through the courts. On 26 October, New York judge Thomas Griesa issued a ruling favoring the holdout creditors, and against the government's practice of excluding them from payments made to those bondholders who had participated in the earlier debt restructuring. The government is appealing Griesa's judgment.[128]

2013[edit]

Kirchner meeting with Pope Francis in 2013.

Argentina signed an accord with Iran in relation to the Amia bombing. According to it, the Iranian suspects will be interrogated in Iran, under Irani laws. Not all suspects would be interrogated, but only those with a "red alert" arrest order from Interpol. This accord was rejected by the opposition parties and the Jewish community, who deemed it unconstitutional.[129]

Buenos Aires and La Plata suffered floods in April, with more than 70 deaths. Mayor Mauricio Macri pointed that the national government prevents the city from taking international loans, which did not allow for infrastructure improvements.[130] A week later, Kirchner announced an amendment of the Argentine judiciary. Three bills were controversial: the first proposes to limit the injunctions against the state, the second to include people selected in national elections at the body that appoints or accuses judges, and the third to create a new court that would limit the number of cases treated by the Supreme Court. The opposition considered that those bills attempt to control the judiciary.[131] The 2013 season of the investigative journalism program Periodismo para todos revealed an ongoing case of political corruption, named "The Route of the K-Money", which generated a huge political controversy.[132] Both things led to a huge cacerolazo on 18 April, known as the 18A.[133]

The aforementioned amendment of the judiciary was repealled by the Supreme Court, which ruled the law to be unconstitutional. The Front for Victory is defeated at the October midterm elections, with a sound victory of Sergio Massa at the populous Buenos Aires Province. Still, the government retains the majority in both houses of the Congress.[134] The Supreme Court rules the media law to be constitutional, a pair of days after the election. Cristina Fernández, who was under medical treatment during both events, changed the cabinet at her return, appointing Jorge Capitanich as chief of cabinet, Axel Kicillof as minister of economy, Juan Carlos Fábrega as president of the Central Bank, and Carlos Casamiquela as minister of Agriculture.[135] The interior trade secretary Guillermo Moreno resigns the following day.[136] The international controversy over the renationalization of YPF ends with a financial compensation for Repsol.[137] The year ends with several electricity blackouts and with police revolts at several provinces, which causes looting.[138]

2014[edit]

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the UN General Assembly

The year began with a renewed economic crisis, which led to a nation-wide strike of teachers, and a general strike by union leader Hugo Moyano. The crisis was temporarily solved with a rise of the interest rate. On January 22, Cristina Fernández announced the government-sponsored programme "Progresar", which gives a monthly subsidy for youths aged 18 to 24 who wish to complete studies but are unemployed or work under the table.[139] Cristina Kirchner visited Pope Francis for a third time. The scandal over Amado Boudou grew when he was summoned for inquiry by Federal Judge Ariel Lijo. The country paid the debt with the Paris Club. US judge Thomas P. Griesa rules that Argentina must pay as well to the hedge funds that did not enter into the Argentine debt restructuring,[140] which Argentina failed to do. Still, the government denies that such failure may be a new sovereign default; Standard & Poor’s defined it as a "selective default".[141] She said in a speech at the United Nations that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group may be trying to kill her, and later that it would be the US; Elisa Carrió dismissed such threats as mere conspiracy theories.[142] In her speech, she accused the "vulture funds" of destabilizing the economy of the countries and called them "economic terrorists".[143][144] The government promoted several new laws and law amendments, such as an overhauled civil code,[145] hydrocarbon law[146] and telecommunications law.[147] Cristina Kirchner was denounced in the Hotesur scandal over a firm headed by her and her sons to manage the hotels in Calafate. She is suspected of using the hotels for money laundering. The judge Claudio Bonadio, heading the case, was in turn called for impeachment.[148]

Cabinet[edit]

On 14 November 2007, the president-elect publicly announced the names of her new cabinet, which was sworn in on 10 December. Of the 12 ministers appointed, seven were already ministers in Néstor Kirchner's government, while the other five took office for the first time.[28] Three other ministries were created afterwards.

Source:[149]

 The Presidential Standard of Argentina
Chief of Cabinet and Ministers
of Cristina Kirchner's Government
Office Name Term
Chief of the
Cabinet of Ministers
Alberto Fernández
Sergio Massa
Aníbal Fernández
Juan M. Abal Medina, Jr
Jorge Capitanich
10 Dec 2007 – 23 Jul 2008
24 Jul 2008 – 7 Jul 2009
8 Jul 2009 – 10 Dec 2011
10 Dec 2011 – 20 Nov 2013
20 Nov 2013 – incumbent
Ministry of Interior Florencio Randazzo 10 Dec 2007 – incumbent
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
International Trade and Worship
(Chancellor)
Jorge Taiana
Héctor Timerman
10 Dec 2007 – 18 Jun 2010
18 Jun 2010 – incumbent
Ministry of Defense Nilda Garré
Arturo Puricelli
Agustín Rossi
10 Dec 2007 – 15 Dec 2010
15 Dec 2010 – 3 Jun 2013
3 Jun 2013 – incumbent
Ministry of Economy Martín Lousteau
Carlos Fernández
Amado Boudou
Hernán Lorenzino
Axel Kicillof
10 Dec 2007 – 24 Apr 2008
25 Apr 2008 – 7 Jul 2009
8 Jul 2009 – 10 Dec 2011
10 Dec 2011 – 20 Nov 2013
20 Nov 2013 – incumbent
Ministry of Federal Planning,
Public Investment and Services
Julio de Vido 10 Dec 2007 – incumbent
Ministry of Justice,
(Security) and Human Rights
Aníbal Fernández
Julio Alak
10 Dec 2007 – 7 Jul 2009
8 Jul 2009 – incumbent
Ministry of Security Nilda Garré
Arturo Puricelli
María Cecilia Rodríguez
15 Dec 2010 – 3 Jun 2013
3 Jun 2013 – 4 Dec 2013
4 Dec 2013 – incumbent
Ministry of Work,
Labour and Social Security
Carlos Tomada 10 Dec 2007 – incumbent
Ministry of Health and Environment Graciela Ocaña
Juan Luis Manzur
10 Dec 2007 – 30 Jun 2009
1 Jul 2009 – incumbent
Ministry of Social Development Alicia Kirchner de Mercado 10 Dec 2007 – incumbent
Ministry of Education Juan Carlos Tedesco
Alberto Sileoni
10 Dec 2007 – 20 Jul 2009
20 Jul 2009 – incumbent
Ministry of Science,
Technology and Productive Innovation
Lino Barañao 10 Dec 2007 – incumbent
Ministry of Industry Débora Giorgi 26 Nov 2008 – incumbent
Ministry of Agriculture Julián Domínguez
Norberto Yahuar
Carlos Casamiquela
1 Oct 2009 – 10 Dec 2011
10 Dec 2011 – 20 Nov 2013
20 Nov 2013 – incumbent
Ministry of Tourism Carlos Enrique Meyer 28 Jun 2010[150]incumbent
Ministry of Culture Teresa Parodi 7 May 2014 – incumbent

Relationship with the media[edit]

Kirchner holding a Clarín newspaper

The Kirchner government controls nearly the 80% of the Argentine media, either directly of indirectly.[151] TV Pública Digital, the state-owned TV channel, was turned into a government-propaganda vehicle. Soccer broadcasting was nationalized in the program Fútbol para todos, and then filled with pro-government advertisements.[152] On the other hand, the Clarín group publishes the Clarín newspaper, the largest selling one in the country, which is not aligned with them.[151]

The Kirchner government made a campaign against the Clarín group, which included over 450 legal and administrative acts of harassment, as reported by the Global Editors Network. One of those actions was a selective use of state advertising, to benefit the media aligned with the government.[151]

The government tries to enforce a controversial media law that would force Clarín to sell most of the assets and loose licences. The law was initially sanctioned as a competition law for the media, but critics point out that it is only used to further the campaign against Clarín.[151] The government had little interest to enforce measures of the law that were not related to Clarín.[153] Clarín launched a constitutional challenge on some articles of the law at the judiciary; and the government released an advertisement against Clarín, claiming that they refused to obey the law and that they may be subverting democracy.[154] The conflict even led to disputes with the judiciary, as the minister Julio Alak said that benefiting Clarín with an extended injunction during the trial would be an insurrection, and it was rumored that judges that did not rule as the government wanted may face impeachment.[153]

Cristina Kirchner claims that journalistic objectivity does not exist, and that all journalists act on behalf of certain interests.[154] She also justified the lack of press conferences, arguing that it is not important for her administration.[154] She announced in December 2014 that she would use the emergency population warning on a daily basis, during the prime time, to inform about ongoing events.[155]

Anthony Mills, deputy director of the International Press Institute, compared the harassment against the press in Argentina with the cases of Venezuela and Ecuador. He considered unfortunate that the president disparaged journalism, and pointed that the freedom of the press may be declining in Argentina.[154]

Net worth[edit]

Cristina and Néstor Kirchner’s net worth combined over time. It has not been indexed by inflation.

Fernández’s net worth increase has been subject to controversy.[156] She claims that her net worth has been influenced by her successful law firm.[157] Fernandez' net worth dropped in 2010 because 50 percent of Kirchner's assets were inherited by his sons after Nestor's death.

The firm Hotesur, which belongs to Cristina Kirchner, manages her hotels in El Calafate. The deputee Margarita Stolbizer pointed that it had not paid taxes in years, that there are no people at its legal address, and that it did not report its annual balances or its currect authorities to the IGJ as all such firms are expected to do. Those hotels are hired by the businessman Lázaro Báez, who makes public works, but the rooms stay empty most of the time.[158] Báez is, in turn, accused of money laundering in The Route of the K-Money scandal.[159] The IGJ had not requested Hotesur to fix its situation, and refuses since 2012 to provide information about it to the press.[160]

Public image[edit]

The media aligned with the government is used to promote a cult of personality over the figures of both Cristina and Néstor Kirchner, who are described as the leaders of a popular left-wing revolution waged against foreign enemies. This advocacy is usually called the "Relato K" (Spanish: K Narrative).[161] Politicians, public people and institutions are treated as "good" or "evil" according to the political needs of the moment.[162] The demonstrations against the government and the criticisms of other political parties are usually described as attempts to make a coup d'état against Cristina Kirchner,[163] as well as the actions of the hedge funds.[144]

The magazine Forbes ranked her as thirteenth in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world in 2008, at the start of her presidency.[164] She gradually lowered her positions, and as of 2014, she is listed as the #19th.[165]

Cristina Kirchner used widow clothings since the death of Néstor Kirchner. As this style benefited her personal image among the society,[166] she kept using it for over three years.[167]

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, during her studies there, she met her future spouse, Néstor Kirchner. They were married on 9 May 1975, and had two children: Máximo (1977) and Florencia (1990).[16] Néstor Kirchner died on 27 October 2010 after suffering a heart attack.[168]

Health[edit]

On 27 December 2011, presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro announced that Fernández had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer on 22 December and that she would undergo surgery on 4 January 2012. However, it was later released that she had been misdiagnosed and did not have cancer.[169] On 5 October 2013, doctors ordered Fernández to rest for a month after they found blood on her brain, due to a head injury she received on August 8, 2012.[170] Fernández was re-admitted to hospital and had successful surgery on 8 October 2013 to remove blood covering her brain.[171]

Footnotes[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ She is variously known as Cristina Fernández,[3][4] Cristina K,[5] or Cristina.[4]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Néstor Kirchner
President of Argentina
2007–present
Incumbent
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Hilda de Duhalde
First Lady of Argentina
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Néstor Kirchner
as First Gentleman of Argentina