Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

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For the American photographer, see Christina Fernandez (photographer).
This name uses Argentine naming customs for married women: the birth family name is Fernández and the marital name is Kirchner.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President of Argentina
In office
10 December 2007 – 10 December 2015[1]
Vice President Julio Cobos
Amado Boudou
Preceded by Néstor Kirchner
Succeeded by Mauricio Macri
First Lady of Argentina
In role
25 May 2003 – 10 December 2007
Preceded by Hilda de Duhalde
Succeeded by Néstor Kirchner
as First Gentleman
National Senator of Argentina
In office
10 December 2005 – 28 November 2007
Constituency Buenos Aires
In office
10 December 2001 – 9 December 2005
Constituency Santa Cruz
In office
10 December 1995 – 3 December 1997
Constituency Santa Cruz
National Deputy of Argentina
In office
10 December 1997 – 9 December 2001
Constituency Santa Cruz
Personal details
Born Cristina Elisabet Fernández
(1953-02-19) 19 February 1953 (age 63)
La Plata, Argentina
Political party Justicialist
Other political
Front for Victory (2003–present)
Spouse(s) Néstor Kirchner
(m. 1975; d. 2010)
Children Máximo
Alma mater National University of La Plata
Religion Roman Catholicism

Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner (Spanish pronunciation: [kɾisˈtina elisaˈβet ferˈnandes ðe ˈkiɾʃneɾ]; born 19 February 1953), known as Cristina Kirchner[2] and often referred to by her initials CFK,[3][4][note 1] is an Argentine lawyer and politician.

She was the President of Argentina from 2007 to 2015 and she is the widow of former president Néstor Kirchner. She was the second woman to serve as President of Argentina (after Isabel Martínez de Perón, 1974–76), 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 a graduate of the National University of La Plata.[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 Néstor Kirchner's presidency (2003–07), 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 percentage point 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 percentage points over the next candidate, Hermes Binner. Fernández de Kirchner's critics and political opposers have claimed her administration exhibited numerous cases of corruption, crony capitalism, falsification of public statistics, harassment of Argentina's independent media, and use of the tax agency as a censorship tool and use of public funds to attack political opponents.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

The election of the right wing politician and former businessman Mauricio Macri in November 2015 as President of Argentina was said to bring an end to the Kirchnerismo movement in the country;[17] nevertheless, Kirchnerismo's popularity remain strong generally, as well as Fernández de Kirchner herself.[17][18]

Early life and education[edit]

Cristina Fernández during her youth

Cristina Fernández was born on February 19, 1953, at Tolosa, a suburb of La Plata, capital of the Buenos Aires Province.[19] She was the daughter of Eduardo Fernández and Ofelia Esther Wilhelm. Eduardo Fernández, a bus driver, was anti-Peronist, and Wilhelm was a Peronist union leader. Wilhelm started as a single mother; Fernández married her and moved to the house when Cristina was two years old. Most details about her childhood, such as her elementary school, are unknown.[20] She attended high school at the schools "Popular Mercantil" and "Misericordia".[20]

She started her college studies at the University of La Plata. She studied psychology for a year, then dropped it and studied laws instead. She met the fellow student Néstor Kirchner in 1973, who introduced her to political debates. There were heated political controversies at the time, caused by the decline of the Argentine Revolution military government, the return of the former president Juan Perón from exile, the election of Héctor Cámpora as president of Argentina, and the early stages of the Dirty War. She became influenced by Peronism, left-wing politics and anti-imperialism.[20] Despite of the presence of sympathizers of the Montoneros guerrilla in La Plata, the Kirchners had never been Montoneros themselves.[20] Cristina and Néstor married on May 9, 1975, in a civil wedding. Wilhelm got them an administrative job at her union.[20] The 1976 Argentine coup d'état took place the following year. Cristina proposed to go to Río Gallegos, Néstor's home city, but he delayed the departure until his graduation, on July 3.[20]

Cristina had not graduated yet when they moved to Río Gallegos, and was tested in free exams for the remaining subjects. There have been claims stating that she never graduated, and that she may have worked as a lawyer without having a degree. This idea was proposed by the constitutionalist Daniel Sabsay, and fueled by the reluctance of the UNLP to release her degree.[21] She registered at the "Tribunal Superior de Justicia" of Santa Cruz in 1980, the Comodoro Rivadavia's chamber of appeals in 1985 and worked as an attorney for the Justicialist Party in 1983. There are also logs of minor cases where she worked as a lawyer as well.[22] The case has been sent to trial four times, and the judges Norberto Oyarbide, Ariel Lijo, Sergio Torres and Claudio Bonadio all ruled that she has a degree.[23]

Néstor had established a law firm, that Cristina joined in 1979.[24] The firm worked for banks and financial groups that filed eviction lawsuits, as the 1050 ruling of the Central Bank had increased the price of the mortgage loan's interests.[24] The Kirchners acquired twenty-one land lots at cheap prices, as they were about to be auctioned.[25] Although the forced disappearances were common during the Dirty War, Néstor and Cristina Kirchner never signed any Habeas corpus.[26] Their law firm took military involved in the Dirty War as clients.[27]

Political career[edit]

Cristina Kirchner was elected deputy for the provincial legislature of Santa Cruz in 1989. The Justicialist Party (PJ), led by Carlos Menem, returned to the presidency in the 1989 general elections. She organized the successful political campaign of Néstor Kirchner, who was elected governor of Santa Cruz in 1991. She was elected in 1994 for the constituent assembly that amended the Constitution of Argentina.

She was elected national senator in the 1995 general elections. She opposed most bills proposed by Menem, such as a treaty with the Chilean president Patricio Aylwin that benefited Chile on a dispute at the Argentina–Chile border.[28] The minister of Defense Oscar Camilión was questioned in Congress about the Argentine arms trafficking scandal; Kirchner told him that he had to resign, which he refused.[29] As a result, she got a fame of troublemaker. She was removed from the PJ bloc in the Congress in 1997 for misconduct.[28] She resigned to her senatorial seat on that year, and ran for national deputy instead in the 1997 midterm elections. Menem ended his term of office in 1999, being replaced by Fernando de la Rúa. Kirchner took part in a commission to investigate money laundering with fellow legislator Elisa Carrió, and got in conflicts with her. She ran for senator again in the 2001 midterm elections.[28]

Néstor Kirchner was elected president in 2003, and so Cristina became the First Lady. Under those circumstances, she sought a lower profile in Congress.[28] Néstor Kirchner had a political dispute with the previous president, Eduardo Duhalde. Their dispute continued in the 2005 midterm elections. Without consensus in the PJ for a single candidate for senator of the Buenos Aires province, both leaders had their respective wives run for the office: Hilda González de Duhalde for the PJ, and Cristina Kirchner for the Front for Victory, which was kept by the Kirchners.[30] Cristina Kirchner won those elections.[31]

Presidential campaigns[edit]

2007 presidential campaign[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 focused on forcing her into a runoff. 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 runner-up, to win in a single round.[32] However, with 13 challengers splitting the vote, Fernández won the election decisively in the first round with just over 45% of the vote, followed by 23% for Elisa Carrió (candidate for the Civic Coalition) and 17% for former Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna.[33] 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.[34] Kirchner lost the election in the large cities of Buenos Aires and Rosario.[34]

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.[35]

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.[35] 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.[34] 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.[36]

2011 presidential campaign[edit]

Kirchner on election night.

When Néstor Kirchner refused to run for re-election in 2007, and proposed Cristina Kirchner instead, it was rumored that the couple may attempt to run for the presidency in alternate periods, to skip the constitutional limit of a single re-election. The death of Néstor Kirchner in 2010 derailed such a plan.[37] She had a low positive image, below 30%.[37] On 21 June 2011, Cristina Kirchner announced she would run for a second term as president. A few days later, she announced that her economic minister Amado Boudou would run for vice-president on her ticket. This selection was an unexpected one, as Boudou usually acts like a rock star instead of a politician.[38] She personally chose most of the candidates for deputy in the Congress, favoring members of the Cámpora.

The elections took place on October 23. She was re-elected by the 54% of the vote, followed by socialist Hermes Binner, 37 points behind her. The opposition was divided in several candidates, and the perceived economic prosperity prevailed among voter's concerns over corruption and cronysm.[37] It was the highest victory in national elections since 1983. The Peronist party also won eight of the nine governor elections held that day, increased their number of senators and got the majority of the chamber of deputies, including the number of legislators needed for quorum. The Kirchners had lost that majority in the 2009 elections. She invited kids to the stage during the celebrations, and vice president Amado Boudou played an electric guitar. As in 2007, she gave a conciliatory speech.[39]

Presidency (2007–2015)[edit]

Domestic policy[edit]

Economic policy[edit]

Argentina forex reserves (yellow), USD official exchange rate (blue), USD exchange rate (black market) (orange) and monetary base (green), from 2011-01-01 to 2016-01-19.[40]

On 29 October 2009 she launched a universal child benefit plan (Spanish: Asignación Universal por Hijo)[41] 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.[42]

The 2010 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.[43] 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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46]

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.[45] Judge María José Sarmiento handed down a ruling preventing said use of reserves, and the Government reacted by appealing the ruling.[47] President Kirchner defended the policy as a cost-saving maneuver, whereby government bonds paying out 15 percent interest would be retired from the market.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50] 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 Cristina Kirchner.[51][52][53] 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.[54]

Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez in her first inauguration day in 2007. Kirchner gave power to his wife after 4 years in office

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.[55] Argentina's external debt now represented 30% of the country's GDP,[56] whilst the Central Bank foreign reserves reached US$49 billion,[57] 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".[58]

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.[59] In November she took part in the UNASUR Summit at Guyana, followed by hosting the XX Ibero-American Summit at Mar del Plata.

In 2012, the government tightened currency controls, allowing access to other currencies to only those people who traveled outside the country.[60] The blockade of other currencies affected financial activities and led to a black market in currencies.[61] On 15 May, The governor of the Buenos Aires province Daniel Scioli voiced his intention to run for the presidency in 2015.[62] 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.[63] 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.[64][65] A similar step was done with Mauricio Macri, by refusing to mediate in a subway strike that lasted for ten days, generating huge traffic delays in Buenos Aires.[66] Cristina backed away from both actions after noticing that she was more harmed by them than Scioli and Macri.[67][68]

Energy policy[edit]

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.[69]

Fernández also supported the nationalization of YPF.[70]

Conflict with the agricultural sector[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.[71] 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.[72] 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.[73][74] 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[75] to an unprecedented 23%.[76]

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.[77]

Other protests[edit]

In 2012 labor leader and Secretary General of the CGT Hugo Moyano organized a protest at Plaza de Mayo, with 30,000 people, requesting the abolition of capital gains tax.[78]

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,[79] political advocacy of The Cámpora at elementary and high schools,[80] 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;[81] the protest was followed by a protest of the gendarmeria and another of the CTA.[82] The largest demonstration was the 8N, which took place on 8 November.

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.[83] 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.[84] 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.[85] Both things led to a huge cacerolazo on 18 April, known as the 18A.[86]

Corruption scandals[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.[87] 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.[88][89] 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.[90] 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.[91]

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 seven 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).[92]

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".[93] The investigation was suspended by Judge Oyarbide on 30 December, though a week later, Piragini appealed the ruling.[94]

The Vice President Amado Boudou got involved in a political scandal, suspected of favoring the Ciccone currency printing business.[95]

Fernández’s net worth increase has been subject to controversy.[96] She claims that her net worth has been influenced by her successful law firm.[97] 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 deputy 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.[98] Báez is, in turn, accused of money laundering in The Route of the K-Money scandal.[99] The IGJ had not requested Hotesur to fix its situation, and refuses since 2012 to provide information about it to the press.[100]

Human rights[edit]

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.[101]

Relationship with the media[edit]

Kirchner holding a Clarín newspaper

It is estimated that the Kirchner government controlled nearly 80% of the Argentine media, either directly or indirectly.[102] TV Pública Digital, the state-owned TV channel, was turned into a government-propaganda vehicle.[102] Soccer broadcasting was nationalized in the program Fútbol para todos, and then filled with pro-government advertisements.[103] On the other hand, the Clarín group publishes the Clarín newspaper, the largest selling one in the country, which is not aligned with them.[102]

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.[102]

The government tries to enforce a controversial media law that would force Clarín to sell most of the assets and lose 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.[102] The government had little interest to enforce measures of the law that were not related to Clarín.[104] 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.[105] 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.[104]

Cristina Kirchner claims that journalistic objectivity does not exist, and that all journalists act on behalf of certain interests.[105] She also justified the lack of press conferences, arguing that it is not important for her administration.[105]

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.[105]

2009 midterm elections[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.[106]

Kirchner and Pope Francis

2013 midterm elections[edit]

The Front for Victory had plans for a new re-election of Cristina Kirchner in 2015, which would require an amendment to the constitution of Argentina. Cristina Kirchner never commented on those plans herself, which were always proposed by other politicians from her party. Although the Front for Victory had the majority in both houses of the Congress since 2011, it did not have the supermajority required for such an amendment. Sergio Massa, mayor of Tigre and a former chief of cabinet of Cristina Kirchner, was the main opposition figure. Argentina lacked a big opposition party since the collapse of the Radical Civic Union in 2001; Massa created instead an alternative party that also stood for Peronism.[107]

Foreign policy[edit]

Kirchner and German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in 2010

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 there could be a conspiracy against her led by the US; Elisa Carrió dismissed such threats as mere conspiracy theories.[108] In her speech, she accused the "vulture funds" of destabilizing the economy of the countries and called them "economic terrorists".[109][110]

Latin America[edit]

Cristina Kirchner with Venezuelan president and personal friend, Hugo Chávez.

In March 2010, Fernández de Kirchner made a historic trip to Peru to make amends, a country with whom relations had been adversely affected following the Carlos Menem administration's illegal sale of weapons to Ecuador in the 1990s.[111][unreliable source?]

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.[112] She signed 25 trade agreements with Venezuela relating to food, technology and energy.[113]

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.[114]

United States[edit]

Kirchner and US President Barack Obama, 2011

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[115] and emphasized the positive relationship between the two countries[116] something which was not reported by local major news media.[117]

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.[118]

United Kingdom[edit]

On 22 February 2010 (2010-02-22),[119] British oil explorer Desire Petroleum started drilling exploration wells some 100 kilometres (60 mi) 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.[120] 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.[121] As a result, Desire's share price plummeted and the company announced further drilling could begin later in 2010.[122]

Middle East[edit]

Cristina Fernández with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, January 2013
Kirchner and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, July 2014

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.[123] Fernández gave her United Nations General Assembly speech where she again criticized Britain over the Falklands issue, and Iran for the 1994 AMIA bombing while giving her support for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and an eventual Palestinian state.[124]

Argentina signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran in relation to the Amia bombing. According to it, the Iranian suspects will be interrogated in Iran, under Iranian law. 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.[125]

In 2004, Alberto Nisman was appointed as a special prosecutor in charge of the AMIA bombing investigation in which 85 people were killed. He produced an indictment for seven Iranian officials, including a former Iranian President and Hezbollah’s senior military commander. In 2013, Kirchner signed a deal establishing a “truth commission” permitting Argentine judges to travel to Tehran and interview the suspects. On January 14, 2015, Nisman accused the President of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to bury the AMIA case. On January 18, 2015 Nisman died. Initially, Kirchner declared his death a suicide, but reversed herself days later, saying that Nisman had been murdered in a conspiracy to frame her. Most of Argentina believes that Nisman was murdered and half the country believes that Kirchner's government was involved.[126][127][128][129]


Cristina Kirchner and Chinese president Xi Jinping, in Buenos Aires, 2014

In July 2010, she traveled to the People's Republic of China with the goal of strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.[130] In 2015, during a trip to China, she tweeted a message replacing the letter "r" with the letter "l" so as to write in Spanish, "lice and petloleum", instead of "rice and petroleum", seemingly mocking the accent of the Chinese hosts. Another message was released shortly afterwards apologising for the initial message.[131][132]


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.[35] Three other ministries were created afterwards.


 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
Aníbal Fernández
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 – 26 Feb 2015
26 Feb 2015 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Interior and Transport Florencio Randazzo 10 Dec 2007 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
International Trade and Worship
Jorge Taiana
Héctor Timerman
10 Dec 2007 – 18 Jun 2010
18 Jun 2010 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Defense Nilda Garré
Arturo Puricelli
Agustín Rossi
10 Dec 2007 – 15 Dec 2010
15 Dec 2010 – 3 Jun 2013
3 Jun 2013 – 10 Dec 2015
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 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Federal Planning,
Public Investment and Services
Julio de Vido 10 Dec 2007 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Justice,
and Human Rights
Aníbal Fernández
Julio Alak
10 Dec 2007 – 7 Jul 2009
8 Jul 2009 – 10 Dec 2015
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 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Work,
Labour and Social Security
Carlos Tomada 10 Dec 2007 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Health and Environment Graciela Ocaña
Juan Luis Manzur
Daniel Gollán
10 Dec 2007 – 30 Jun 2009
1 Jul 2009 – 26 Feb 2015
26 Feb 2015 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Social Development Alicia Kirchner de Mercado 10 Dec 2007 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Education Juan Carlos Tedesco
Alberto Sileoni
10 Dec 2007 – 20 Jul 2009
20 Jul 2009 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Science,
Technology and Productive Innovation
Lino Barañao 10 Dec 2007 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Industry Débora Giorgi 26 Nov 2008 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Agriculture Julián Domínguez
Norberto Yahuar
Carlos Casamiquela
1 Oct 2009 – 10 Dec 2011
10 Dec 2011 – 20 Nov 2013
20 Nov 2013 – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Tourism Carlos Enrique Meyer 28 Jun 2010[134] – 10 Dec 2015
Ministry of Culture Teresa Parodi 7 May 2014 – 10 Dec 2015


Cristina Kirchner intended to remain an influential figure over Argentine politics after her presidency, to eventually return in the 2019 elections. Her son Máximo Kirchner, leader of La Cámpora, said that "we may hand the government, but not the power". She counted with wealthy businessmen such as Lázaro Báez, ten thousand of members of La Cámpora working at the ministries, legislators that would reject all bills that Cambiemos may send to the Congress, and control of the Santa Cruz Province. However, her leadership is resisted in the Justicialist Party, who blame her for the defeat in the 2015 elections, and consider that her intransigence may be a liability for the party.[135] As a result, a group of legislators broke away from the Front for Victory bloc and started a non-kirchnerite bloc in the Congress.[136] Without a steady supply of money from the government, Báez soon neared bankruptcy. Macri fired a huge number of state employees that did not do actual jobs, and Santa Cruz got in an economic crisis.[137]

Cristina made her first public appearance after leaving the presidency in April 2016, when judge Claudio Bonadio summoned her to testify in a judicial case. In a political rally organised outside of the courthouse, she claimed that the case was a politically motivated conspiracy.[138]

On June 2016, the Buenos Aires Federal Court ordered the federal judge Sebastian Casanello to further investigate the alleged links between the arrested Lazaro Baez and former Presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner. He also confirmed the preventive prison detention for Báez for money laundering allegations.[139]

Public image[edit]

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.[140] By 2014, she was listed at 19th.[141]

Following the death of her husband Néstor Kirchner, she dressed in black for over three years.[142]

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, during her studies at the National University of La Plata, she met her future spouse, Néstor Kirchner. They were married on 9 May 1975, and had two children: Máximo (1977) and Florencia (1990).[20] Néstor Kirchner died on 27 October 2010 after suffering a heart attack.[143]


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.[144] 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.[145] Fernández was re-admitted to hospital and had successful surgery on 8 October 2013 to remove blood from under a membrane covering her brain.[146]

Increasingly long periods without public appearances have led to media speculation regarding her health.[147]

In December 2014 she was hospitalized after she broke her ankle.[148]



Foreign honours[edit]



  1. ^ She is variously known as Cristina Fernández,[4][5] Cristina K,[6] or Cristina.[5]



  1. ^
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  3. ^ "CFK back at Olivos presidential residency after CELAC summit". Buenos Aires Herald. 29 January 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. 
  4. ^ a b "CFK to Harvard students: there is no 'dollar clamp'; don't repeat monochord questions". MercoPress. 28 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Profile: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner". BBC News. 8 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "Aerolineas takeover shadows Cristina K visit to Spain". MercoPress. 9 February 2009. Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "El título de CFK: doctor Sabsay, ¿ahora le pedirá disculpas a la Presidenta?". 6 November 2014. 
  8. ^ ""Confirman que Cristina "egresó con título de abogada""". 1 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Latin America's crony capitalism. (Alvaro Vargas Llosa)(Interview)". Reason  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 28 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Roberts, James M. (22 April 2010). "Cronyism and Corruption are Killing Economic Freedom in Argentina". Heritage Foundation. HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ Barbieri, Pierpaolo (8 August 2012). "Pierpaolo Barbieri: A Lesson in Crony Capitalism". WSJ. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ "Don't lie to me, Argentina". The Economist. 25 February 2012. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "The price of cooking the books". The Economist. 25 February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Knock, knock". The Economist. 21 June 2012. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "El Gobierno usó a Fútbol para Todos para atacar a Macri". Clarín. August 11, 2012. 
  16. ^ "El Gobierno difundió un aviso polémico aviso sobre el subte". La Nación. August 11, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Noel, Andrea (29 December 2015). "The Year the 'Pink Tide' Turned: Latin America in 2015 | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Argentina's Ex-President Wants Everyone to Know She's Not Scared of Corruption Probes - VICE News, April 14, 2016
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  21. ^ "Cristina Fernandez challenged to show her law degree and Timerman described as a 'traitor'". Merco Press. October 25, 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  22. ^ Laura Di Marco (November 2, 2014). "Cristina no es abogada: la noticia deseada de los anti-K" [Cristina is not a lawyer: the desired news of the anti-K] (in Spanish). La Nación. Retrieved February 17, 2016. 
  23. ^ Hernán Cappiello (June 7, 2016). "Bonadio sobreseyó a Cristina Kirchner por su título de abogada" [Bonadio aquited Cristina Kirchner over her lawyer degree] (in Spanish). La Nación. Retrieved July 29, 2016. 
  24. ^ a b Mariela Arias (September 28, 2012). "Cómo fueron los "exitosos años" de Cristina Kirchner como abogada en Santa Cruz" [How were the "successful years" of Cristina Kirchner in Santa Cruz] (in Spanish). La Nación. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  25. ^ Majul, p. 22
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  27. ^ Majul, p. 20
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  32. ^ "National Constitution of Argentina". Constitution of Argentina (in Spanish). , art. 97–98
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  36. ^ McCloskey, p. 20
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  61. ^ Quiroga, Anabella (5 August 2012). "El cepo cambiario seguirá firme" [The financial exchange lock will be firmly kept]. Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
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  63. ^ "Al final, Cristina liberó la plata y Scioli pagará los aguinaldos". Clarín. 
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  66. ^ "El millonario costo del paro de subte" [The millions of cost caused by the subway strike]. La Nación (in Spanish). 14 August 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  67. ^ La imagen de Cristina, más perjudicada que la de Macri (Spanish)
  68. ^ En las encuestas, Scioli quedó un poco mejor parado (Spanish)
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  71. ^ "Argentine Soybean Output May Slip; Protests May Pause". Bloomberg L.P. 9 March 2008. 
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  73. ^ "Cacería para ganar la Plaza. Fueron golpeados manifestantes que apoyaban el reclamo del campo". La Nacion. 26 March 2008. 
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  145. ^ Warren, Michael (5 October 2013). "Blood on brain, rest ordered for Argentine leader". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2014-06-28. 
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  147. ^ Jose Manuel Rodriguez; Catherine E. Shoichet (16 January 2014). "Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner goes off the grid". CNN. 
  148. ^ "Argentine President in hospital". Gulf Times. 
  149. ^ a b c El origen gallego de C.F.K. The Galician origin of C.F.K.
  150. ^ Cristina Kirchner dijo sentir envidia de la Furia Roja "España no es un país cualquiera: tres de mis cuatro abuelos son españoles y para todos los argentinos hay un lazo especial". Three of my grandparents are Spanish
  151. ^ "Ofelia Wilhelm, la madre de Cristina, de empleada estatal a jubilada VIP". 
  152. ^
  153. ^

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Hilda de Duhalde
First Lady of Argentina
Succeeded by
Néstor Kirchner
as First Gentleman of Argentina
Political offices
Preceded by
Néstor Kirchner
President of Argentina
Succeeded by
Mauricio Macri