Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
|Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
|President of Argentina|
10 December 2007 – 10 December 2015
|Vice President||Julio Cobos
|Preceded by||Néstor Kirchner|
|Succeeded by||Mauricio Macri|
|First Lady of Argentina|
25 May 2003 – 10 December 2007
|Preceded by||Hilda de Duhalde|
|Succeeded by||Néstor Kirchner
as First Gentleman
|National Senator of Argentina|
10 December 2005 – 28 November 2007
10 December 2001 – 9 December 2005
10 December 1995 – 3 December 1997
|National Deputy of Argentina|
10 December 1997 – 9 December 2001
|Born||Cristina Elisabet Fernández
19 February 1953
La Plata, Argentina
|Front for Victory (2003–present)|
(m. 1975; d. 2010)
|Alma mater||National University of La Plata|
Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner (Spanish pronunciation: [kɾisˈtina elisaˈβet ferˈnandes ðe ˈkiɾʃneɾ] ( listen); born 19 February 1953), sometimes referred to by her initials CFK,[note 1] is an Argentine lawyer and politician, who served as President of Argentina from 2007 to 2015. 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.
Born in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province, she studied laws at the University of La Plata, and moved to the Patagonia with her husband Néstor Kirchner upon graduation. She was elected to the provincial legislature, and her husband to mayor of Río Gallegos. She was elected national senator in 1995, and had a controversial tenure, while her husband was elected governor of the Santa Cruz Province. She was also elected in 1994 for the constituent assembly that amended the Constitution of Argentina. She became the First Lady from 2003 to 2007, when Néstor Kirchner was elected president.
Néstor Kirchner did not try to be reelected, and Cristina Kirchner was the candidate for the Front for Victory instead, becoming president in the 2007 presidential election. Her first term of office started with a conflict with the agricultural sector, and her proposed taxation system was rejected. After it, she nationalized the private pension funds, and fired the president of the Central Bank. Taxes of public services remain subsidied, the country lost the self-supply of energy, and she renationalized YPF as an alternative. The country fell in a sovereign default in 2014. The country had good international relations with other South American nations, and a rocky one with the United States and the United Kingdom. She also continued the human rights policy of her husband, and had a rocky relation with the press. Néstor Kirchner died in 2010, and Cristina Kirchner was relected in 2011. She established currency controls during her second term. Several corruption scandals took place, and faced several demonstrations against her rule. Her defeat in the 2013 midterm elections prevented the project to amend the constitution and run for more terms, and appointed governor Daniel Scioli as the candidate for the 2015 presidential elections. Scioli was defeated by mayor Mauricio Macri in a ballotage.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Political career
- 3 Presidential campaigns
- 4 Presidency (2007–2015)
- 5 Post-presidency
- 6 Public image
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Ancestry
- 9 Honours
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Cristina Fernández was born on 19 February 1953, at Tolosa, a suburb of La Plata, capital of the Buenos Aires Province. 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. She attended high school at the schools "Popular Mercantil" and "Misericordia".
She started her college studies at the University of La Plata. She studied psychology for a year, then dropped it and studied law 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. Despite of the presence of sympathizers of the Montoneros guerrilla in La Plata, the Kirchners had never been Montoneros themselves. Cristina and Néstor married on 9 May 1975, in a civil wedding. Wilhelm got them an administrative job at her union. 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 3 July.
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. 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. 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.
Néstor had established a law firm that Cristina joined in 1979. 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. The Kirchners acquired twenty-one land lots at cheap prices, as they were about to be auctioned. Although the forced disappearances were common during the Dirty War, Néstor and Cristina Kirchner never signed any Habeas corpus. Their law firm took military involved in the Dirty War as clients.
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 served as interim governor of Santa Cruz for a couple of days, after the impeachment of Ricardo del Val in 1990. 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. 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. As a result, she got a fame of troublemaker. She was removed from the PJ bloc in the Congress in 1997 for misconduct. 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.
Néstor Kirchner was elected president in 2003, and so Cristina became the First Lady. Under those circumstances, she sought a lower profile in Congress. 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. Cristina Kirchner won those elections.
2007 presidential campaign
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. 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. 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. Kirchner lost the election in the large cities of Buenos Aires and Rosario.
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.
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. 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. 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. He remained highly influential during his wife's term, supervising the economy and leading the PJ. Their marriage has been compared with those of Juan and Eva Perón and Bill and Hillary Clinton. Media observers suspected that Kirchner stepped down as president to circumvent the term limit, swapping roles with his wife.
2011 presidential campaign
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. She had a low positive image, below 30%. 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. She personally chose most of the candidates for deputy in the Congress, favoring members of the Cámpora.
The elections took place on 23 October. 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. 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.
When she first took office, Cristina Kirchner replaced the previous minister of economy, Miguel Gustavo Peirano, who had been appointed by her husband and former President, Néstor Kirchner. Peirano was succeeded by Martín Lousteau in December 2007, who served as Cristina Kirchner's first of several ministers of economy under her presidency. The attempt to increase of taxes to agricultural exports caused a conflict with the agricultural sector and protests broke out. As a result, the taxes were not increased, and Lousteau resigned by April 2008, only a few months after he had been appointed. He was replaced by Argentina's tax agency chief Carlos Rafael Fernández. As an alternative to the raise of taxes, and facing debts payments the following year, the government nationalized the private pension funds, known as "Las Administradoras de Fondos de Jubilaciones y Pensiones (AFJP)". The amount of money involved in the operation was nearly 30 billions of dollars, and the debt obligations were nearly 24 billions of dollars. The nationalization was justified by the president as government protectionism during the crisis, and compared with the bank bailouts in Europe and the United States. It was critizised as a threat to property rights and rule of law. Fernández resigned after the Kirchnerite defeat in the 2009 elections, and was replaced by Amado Boudou, president of the ANSES that worked for that nationalization. Although inflation was nearing 25% and on the rise, Boudou did not consider it an important problem. On January 2010, Cristina Kirchner created the bicentennial fund with a necessity and urgency decree, to pay debt obligations with foreign-exchange reserves. Martín Redrado, president of the Central Bank, refused to implement it, and was fired with another decree. Judge María José Sarmiento annulled both decrees, on the grounds of the independence of the Central Bank. Redrado resigned one month later, and was replaced by Mercedes Marcó del Pont.
Kirchner was reelected in 2011, along with Amado Boudou as vice president. Hernán Lorenzino became the new minister of economy. The government established currency controls, that limited the power to buy or sell foreign currencies, specially American dollars. Many Argentines kept their savings in dollars as a prevention against inflation; the government considered that the controls were required to prevent capital flight and tax evasion. Axel Kicillof was appointed minister in 2013, and served for the remainder of Kirchner's term. He arranged the payment of the debt to the Paris Club, and the compensations requested by Repsol for the nationalization of YPF. One month later, negotiations with hedge funds failed, and the American judge Thomas Griesa ordered that Argentina had to pay to all creditors and not just those who accepted a reduced payment with the Argentine debt restructuring. Kicillof, however, refused that the country would have fallen into a sovereign default.
Back in 2002, Eduardo Duhalde fixed the taxes for public services, such as electricity, gas and water supply. The prices stayed fixed during the terms of Duhalde, Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, despite of the end of the crisis that motivated them. As the inflation grew during the period, the state financed part of those taxes with subsidies. Investment in the area decreased, and the generation and distribution networks suffered as a result. Argentina lost the self-supply on energy, and had to import it, instead of export.
Kirchner proposed a fiscal austerity program in early 2012, including the gradual removal of subsidies. The proposal turned to be unpopular, and was not implemented. She opted instead to send a bill to the Congress for the renationalization of YPF, privatized in 1993, blaming the Spanish Repsol for the energy trade deficit. The bill was approved by the chamber of deputies by a 207-32 margin. It was critizised as an authoritarian move, as there was no negotiation with Repsol. The Vaca Muerta unconventional oil field was also discovered by the time. However, YPF was unable to afford the costs of oil exploitation at the site, and the rights to exploit Vaca Muerta were given to the Chevron Corporation. The costs of the energy imports increased the trade deficit and the inflation, and power outages became frequent. Those outages usually took place in the hottests days of the summer seasons, as the use of air conditioning increased the electricity consumption to peak levels.
Conflict with the agricultural sector
In March 2008, Kirchner introduced a new sliding-scale taxation system for agricultural exports, so that it fluctuated with international prices. This would effectively raise levies on soybean exports from 35% to 44% at the time of the announcement. This new taxation scheme, proposed by minister Martín Lousteau, led to a nationwide lockout by farming associations, with the aim of forcing the government to back down on it. They were joined on 25 March by thousands of pot-banging demonstrators massed around the Buenos Aires Obelisk and the presidential palace. Those demonstrations were followed by others at other locations across the country, road bloackades and food shortages.
The protest became highly polarizing. The government argued that the new taxes would allow for a better Redistribution of wealth, and to keep down the food prices. They also claimed that the farmers were staging a Coup d'état against Kirchner. Farmers said instead that the high cost of taxes made cultivation unviable. The activist Luis D'Elía interrupted one of the demonstrations with stick-wielding pro-government supporters, who attacked the demonstrators. The minister Lousteau resigned during the crisis, and the Peronist governors opted to negotiate on their own with the farmers, ignoring the approach of Kirchner. Her public image plummeted to its lowest level.
After four months of conflict, and having the majority of both houses of the Argentine Congress, the president sent a bill with the new taxes. However, many legislators gave priority to the local agendas of their provinces, and many of their economies depended heavily on agriculture. Many FPV legislators, such as Rubén Marín, opposed the bill. Marín argued that "For us, agriculture is the economy". There were two demonstrations the day of the vote: one against the bill, attended by 235.000 people, and other in support of the bill, attended by 100.000 people. Farmers had announced that they would continue with the demonstrations if the bill was approved without amends. Senator Emilio Rached from Santiago del Estero casted the vote that set a 36-36 tie. In those cases, the vicepresident, who also serves as president of the Senate but without right to vote, is required to cast the tie-breaking vote. Julio Cobos voted against the bill, which was thus rejected, saying that "My vote is not in favor, my vote is against". Despite of the cold relation between Cobos and Cristina since that event, he completed his term as vice president.
Kirchner was reelected in 2011, and the Constitution of Argentina only allows a single reelection. Many of her supporters proposed a new amendment to the Constitution, to allow indefinite reelections. Kirchner did not publicly support those proposals, but did not discourage or reject them either. The proposal was not taken to the Congress, as the FPV still lacked the required two-thirds majority to approve an amendment bill. This proposal was met with rejection from many sectors of society. The first big demonstration took place on September 2012, as a cacerolazo. It was not called by specific politicians or social leaders, but from social networks. The massive turnout proved to be completely unexpected by both the government and the opposition. People also protested about the 2012 Buenos Aires rail disaster, the conflict between Kirchnerism and the media, the rising crime rates and the tight currency controls. Kirchner dismissed the demonstration, and said that she would continue working as before. Most of the Kirchner loyalists, however, preferred simply to ignore the protest.
A larger demonstration, the 8N, took place two months later. It was attended by nearly half a million people. People protested over a variety of issues, such as those from the previous demonstration, the growing inflation and the corruption scandals. Kirchner promised to keep her policies unchanged, and senator Aníbal Fernández dismissed the significance of the demonstrations. Journalist Jorge Lanata explained the big society polarization in that the government and their supporters thought that they were engaged in a revolution, and that they think that their proclaimed goals justify going against the freedom of the press and other public rights. The cabinet chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina said that the demonstrators belonged to a social class that was against social justice, and compared the demonstrations with Coup d'états. A similar view was held by Kirchner's loyalists.
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. 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. 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. Those things led to a new cacerolazo on 18 April, known as the 18A.
Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who worked in the investigation of the 1994 AMIA bombing, accused Kirchner of engaging in a criminal cover-up conspiracy. He had accused Iran in 2006 of directing the attack, and the Hezbollah militia of carrying it out. The 2013 Memorandum of understanding between Argentina and Iran allowed instead for a joint investigation by both countries. He was found dead in his home, the day before he could explain his denounce in Congress. The unsolved case was highly controversial. The 18F demonstration took place a month after his death. It was organized as a silent demonstration, only as an homage to Alberto Nisman, and devoid of political flags or banners. The rule was followed, with occasional exceptions for waves of spontaneous clapping or people singing the Argentine national anthem. The city police estimated that the demonstration was attended by 400,000 people.
Several scandals took place during the Kirchner administration. The first one was the detention of the Venezuelan-American businessman Antonini Wilson in an airport, with a suitcase filled with $800,000. This money would have been illegally provided by Venezuela for the 2007 Argentine general election. Details of the case were explained by businessman Carlos Kauffmann and lawyer Moisés Maiónica, who pleaded guilty. The FPV financing for the 2007 elections caused another scandal years later. Three pharmaceutical businessmen, Sebastián Forza, Damián Ferrón, and Leopoldo Bina, were found dead in 2008, a case known as the Triple crime. Further investigations about Forza, who contributed with $200,000 to the campaign, identified him as a provider of ephedrine to the Sinaloa Cartel. Martín Lanatta and José Luis Salerno, convicted for the killings, claimed in 2015 that Aníbal Fernández was the boss of a mafia ring that ordered those killings, to secure the illegal traffic of ephedrine. Fernández denied those charges, and considered that is was a set up to undermine his chances in the 2015 general election. General illegal drug trade grew in Argentina during Kirchnerism, and saw Mexican and Colombian syndicates working with Peruvian and Bolivian smugglers. Conviction rates for money laundering were almost inexistent. Mariano Federici, head of the Financial Information Unit, said that "The magnitude of the threat is very serious, and this would never have been possible without collaboration from government officials in this country".
Amado Boudou, who served as minister of economy during Kirchner's first term and vicepresident during the second, was suspected of a corruption case in 2012. The Ciccone Calcografica printing company got bankrupt in 2010, but this request was cancelled when the businessman Alejandro Vandenbroele bought it. The company received as well tax breaks to pay its debts, and was selected to print banknotes of the Argentine peso. It is suspected that Vandenbroele is actually a frontman for Boudou, and that he may employed his clout as minister of economy to benefit a company that would actually belong to him.
The TV program Periodismo para todos broadcast information about The Route of the K-Money scandal. The businessman Leonardo Fariña said in an interview that he helped the businessman Lázaro Báez to divert money from public works, and take it to a financial firm located in the Madero Center luxury hotel. This firm, informally known as "La Rosadita", would have sent the money abroad to tax havens, using shell companies. Given the amounts of money involved, the money was weighed instead of counted to determine the value. Federico Elaskar, owner of the firm, confirmed in another interview the things said by Fariña. Both of them retracted their statements after the program was aired, but prosecutor José María Campagnoli confirmed their links with Báez. Báez denied any wrongdoing. Campagnoli was suspended as a prosecutor, accused of leaking information and abusing his authority. Báez is also linked with the Kirchners to the Hotesur scandal, a suspected case of money laundering. According to a criminal complaint by opposition deputy Margarita Stolbizer, his company Valle Mitre S.A. has rented 1,100 rooms per month, for years, at the Hotesur and Alto Calafate hotels, but without occupying them. Those hotels, located at the El Calafate city, belong to the Kirchners.
Human rights policy
The administration of Cristina Kirchner continued the trials against the military involved in the Dirty War, started by her husband. The have been more than 500 people sentenced, and 1,000 convicted, in a process that was unprecedented in Latin America. De-facto president Jorge Rafael Videla, who was convicted to a life sentence in 1985 and pardoned years later, received a new life sentence in 2010. General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, who waged war to the leftist guerrillas in the northern Argentine provinces, received a life sentence as well.
Another related investigation was the fate of the children of the captured pregnant guerrillas, who were given in adoption by the military junta. There is an estimate of 500 children involved. The investigation became controversial during the Kirchner administration, as the people involved are now adults and some of them refuse to go through a DNA test. One of those cases was the Noble siblings case, adopted sons of Ernestina Herrera de Noble, owner of the Clarín newspaper. The Kirchners advanced a bill in Congress to make the genetic testing of the suspects mandatory. Although the measure had popular support, critics consider it a breach of the right to privacy in general, and politically motivated in the Case of the Noble for the disputed between Kirchner and the Clarín newspaper. The testing the Noble siblings gave a negative result in 2011, and the case was closed in January 2016, after Kirchner left the presidency. Hilario Bacca, a confirmed son of dissapeared guerrillas, appealed a judicial ruling that sought to change his name, asking to keep the name he had been using so far.
Relationship with the media
It is estimated that the Kirchner government controlled nearly 80% of the Argentine media, either directly or indirectly. 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. On the other hand, the Clarín group publishes the Clarín newspaper, the largest selling one in the country, which is not aligned with them.
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.
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. The government had little interest to enforce measures of the law that were not related to Clarín. 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. 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.
Cristina Kirchner claims that journalistic objectivity does not exist, and that all journalists act on behalf of certain interests. She also justified the lack of press conferences, arguing that it is not important for her administration.
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.
The 2009 midterm elections took place a year after the crisis with the farmers. The Kirchners were highly unpopular at the time, and people rejected their policies and governing style. The growing inflation and crime also eroded their public support. Seeking to reverse their declining popularity, Néstor Kirchner led the list for deputy candidates at the Buenos Aires province. He was narrowly defeated by Francisco de Narváez, who led a Peronist faction opposed to the Kirchners. The Kirchners lost the majority of the Congress as a result of the election.
The Front for Victory recovered the majority at both chambers of the Congress during the 2011 presidential elections, when Cristina Kirchner was re-elected for a second term. The party had projects to amend the constitution and allow indefinite re-elections, but lacked the supermajority required for it. A victory at the 2013 midterm elections would have given such majority, but the party was defeated at most provinces. Sergio Massa, former cabinet minister of the Kirchners, won at the Buenos Aires Province by nearly 10 points with his new party, the Renewal Front. 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. However, the party still retained the simple majority in Congress. This election was the first one when teenagers from 16 to 18 were allowed to vote. President Kirchner, who had undergone brain surgery some weeks before, was hospitalized during the election and unable to join the campaign.
Kirchner was part of the "Pink tide", a group of populist presidents that ruled several Latin American countries in the 2000s. This group is composed by Néstor and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, among others. Kirchner has been an inconditional supporter of Chávez and Maduro. As Paraguay rejected the incorporation of Venezuela into the Mercosur trading bloc, she took advantage of the impeachment of Fernando Lugo to claim that Paraguay had suffered a coup d'etat and propose to temporarily remove the country from the bloc. With the support of the other presidents, Paraguay was removed for a time, and Venezuela incorporated to the Mercosur during the time. She kept her support to Venezuela even during the large 2014 Venezuela protests and the imprisonment of its leader, Leopoldo López.
Kirchner had a rocky relation with the United States. Several items from a US airforce place, such as drugs and GPS devices, were seized by Argentine officials, which caused a diplomatic crisis. US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said that those were standard tools in counter-terrorism tactics, which would be tought to the Argentine police during the joint operation, and asked for the return of the seized materials. Kirchner blamed the whole country for the 2014 default, ruled by US judge Thomas P. Griesa. She told in a cadena nacional adress that the US may be trying to oust her from power, or even assasinate her. She said this a few days after accusing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of similar assasination plans against her. The idea was rejected by opposition leader Elisa Carrió as a mere conspiracy theory.
The 30th anniversary of the Falklands War took place in 2012, and Kirchner increased the anti-British sentiment in her rhetoric, reiterating the Argentine claims in the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute. The British Prime minister David Cameron rejected her comments. Relations were also strained by recent oil explorations in the area, and Kirchner threatened to sue Rockhopper Exploration for it. The Falklands Islands celebrated a sovereignty referendum in 2013, where 99.8% voted to remain a British territory, with only three votes against. Kirchner ignored the referendum.
When the archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis, the initial reactions were mixed. Most of the Argentine society cheered it, but the pro-government newspaper Página/12 published renewed allegations about the Dirty War, and the president of the National Library described a global conspiracy theory. The president took more than an hour to congratulate him, and only did so in a passing reference within a routine speech. However, due to the Pope's popularity in Argentina, Cristina Kirchner made what the political analyst Claudio Fantini called a "Copernican shift" in her relation with him and fully embraced the Francis phenomenon. On the day before his inauguration as pope, Bergoglio, now Francis, had a private meeting with Kirchner. They exchanged gifts and lunched together. This was the new pope's first meeting with a head of state, and there was speculation that the two were mending their relations. Página/12 removed their controversial articles about Bergoglio, written by Horacio Verbitsky, from their web page, as a result of this change.
Argentina suffered a terrorist attack in 1994 that killed 85 people and wounded 300, the AMIA bombing, targeted against a Buenos Aires Jewish center. The investigation stayed open for years, and prosecutor Alberto Nisman was appointed to the case. He accused Iran of organizing the attack, and the Hezbollah group of carrying it out. He intended to prosecute five Iranian officials, including the former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, but Argentina signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran for a joint investigation. Nisman accused the president of signing that memorandum for oil and trade benefits, according to hundreds of hours of wiretaps. He was found dead at his home, a day before a congressional hearing to explain his accusation, which caused a great controversy. As of 2016, both the AMIA bombing and the death of Nisman's cases remain unresolved, and the courts have rejected to investigate his denounce against Kirchner.
Mauricio Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires, was elected president in the 2015 presidential elections, defeating the Kirchnerite candidate Daniel Scioli in a ballotage. Macri reported during the transition period that Kirchner was creating obstacles and problems to undermine his government. She changed the 2016 budget, increasing the spending in several areas (even the broadcasting of soccer matches), despite of the huge fiscal deficit. A number of Kirchnerite officials refused to resign to their offices, instead of allowing Macri to appoint his own ones. Even the handover ceremony became controversial, as Kirchner refused to attend it. It was the first time since the end of military rule in 1983 that the outgoin president did not hand over power to the incoming one.
Cristina Kirchner faced several charges in court after leaving office. One of those operation was the sale of dollar future at very low prices, nearing the end of her term of office, which became a heavy burden for the presidency of Macri. The operation was carried out at the Central Bank, but judge Claudio Bonadio considers that they acted upon instructions from Kirchner. Kirchner is also investigated in The Route of the K-Money scandal. A million of her financial assets was frozen while Bonadio investigates the case. She took advantage of the hearing to organize her first political rally since leaving power. Lázaro Báez was detained in April 2016, as it was suspected that he may escape. José López, an official from the ministry of public works, was detained while trying to hide bags filled with millions in cash at a monastery.
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Cristina Kirchner is a populist leader and, like other contemporary populists in Latin America, built a system of propaganda to legitimize its actions: the Relato K. This propaganda works around a number of usual themes: the glorification of the state in detriment of the individual rights, use of conspiracy theories to explain mistakes as attacks from others, blaming neoliberalism for the poverty, and glorification of democracy while keeping it in just its procedural form. The political world is divided in two halves, the people and those against the people, with the Kirchners described as the saviors of the people. This division is used to justify the rejection to those described as being against the people, and to polarize the population. The problems caused by her policies, such as inflation, are always explained as the result of class conflict and imperialism. Economic activity is described as a zero-sum game, where any wealth is the result of the explotation of someone else, which justifies economic interventionism. The victory of Kirchner in the 2011 election was used to justify authoritarian policies, as those policies would be the general will; opposition and criticism was often described as antidemocratic or even as a coup d'état plotting.
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). Néstor Kirchner died on 27 October 2010 after suffering a heart attack.
The health of Kirchner first became a topic of public concern in 2005, when the magazine Noticias reported that she may suffer from bipolar disorder. The journalist Franco Lindner interviewed the psychiatrist that treated her, without revealing his name. Journalist Nelson Castro investigated further, and discovered that said psychiatrist was Alejandro Lagomarsino, who died in 2011. Lagomarsino was the leading specialist in the treatment of the bipolar disorder in Argentina. Castro's investigation revealed that she was treated by Lagomarsino for a short period, but could not find out for how much time, which treatment and medicine she received, or whether some other psychiatrist continued treating her or not. Eduardo Duhalde said that Néstor Kirchner once confided him that she had a bipolar disorder, while she was having a violent outbust. During the United States diplomatic cables leak it was revealed that Hillary Clinton questioned the mental health of Kirchner and asked the US embassy whether she was receiving treatment or not; she later apologized to Kirchner for those leaks. Kirchner said in the book La Presidenta that it is all a misunderstanding, that it is her sister who suffers from bipolar disorder. Castro considers that some of her outlandish phrases or projects and her frequents periods of hiding from public view may be explained by the disorder's periods of mania and depression, as well as regular political strategy.
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. The standard procedure in those operations is to expose the thyroid gland so that the pathologists take a sample, analyze it in seach of carcinogenic cells, and then decide if it is required to remove the gland or not. In the case of Kirchner, this step was omited and the glad was removed directly. After the operation, it was released that she had been misdiagnosed and did not have cancerOn 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 8 August 2012. Fernández was re-admitted to hospital and had successful surgery on 8 October 2013 to remove blood from under a membrane covering her brain.
|Ancestors of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
- Honorary Doctorate from the National University of La Plata.
- Honorary Doctorate from the National University of Quilmes.
- Brazil: Grand Collar of the Order of the Southern Cross
- Ecuador: Manuela Sánchez Award from the National Assembly of Ecuador.
- Palestine: Star of Palestine
- Peru: Order of the Sun of Peru
- Spain: Grand Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
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- El origen gallego de C.F.K. The Galician origin of C.F.K.
- 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
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
- (Spanish) Official site of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
- (Spanish) Senate of the Argentine Republic website
- (Spanish) Extensive biography by CIDOB Foundation
- Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the Internet Movie Database
Hilda de Duhalde
|First Lady of Argentina
as First Gentleman of Argentina
|President of Argentina