She’s back. After slowing down for a few weeks after the primaries, the campaign for October’s midterm elections has resumed and Cristina Kirchner, former president and candidate to the Senate for the province of Buenos Aires, had her first big appearance on Friday the 15th. It was one for the history books, and not only because she is notoriously press shy – at least with those who are not on her side.
Perhaps scared at the prospect of losing to Cambiemos’ candidate Esteban Bullrich she sat for a 90 minute interview with journalist Luis Novaresio. Apparently, the strategy of rallying her base is not working and its time to try something as innovative as speaking to the mainstream media. It may have worked, since according to her campaign team, the interview was watched by around 4 million. 10% of the Argentine population watched her.
The interview itself spanned most issues and didn’t shy away from the most controversial topics. Chief among them the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had accused the then-president and several high-ranking members of her administration of covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center and was found dead at his apartment in Puerto Madero. According to a recent report from a Border Patrol analyst, he was murdered by a shotgun. She declared that “when I was president and the Nisman thing happened I addressed the nation on the Cadena Nacional (national broadcast). It is unthinkable that a president stays silent when society is in shock”, which can easily be constructed as a reference to the fact that president Macri didn’t speak about the disappearance of activist Santiago Maldonado, a sore spot in his administration. She continued by claiming, once again, that she is being framed by her opponents.
When asked about another of the most controversial issues in Latin American politics, Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian government and the economic crisis in Venezuela, she answered that “democracy is at risk in all of Latin America. 44 journalists were killed in Mexico this year alone. There’s institutional and physical violence. There have been thousands of deaths. Venezuela, with all the problems a divided country has to deal with … Choosing one country and attacking it for something that happens in so many others where people disappear …” She did not finish her sentence, but her words are not surprising, as the Latin American left is never hard on Maduro.
When pressured, she did accept that Maduro does not uphold the Rule of Law in his country, but quickly pointed out that she considers the trial against Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff illegitimate, and that Peña Nieto’s government in Mexico is accused of human rights violations regarding the deaths in Tlatlaya.
Finally, she spoke about the unity of the Peronist movement, which she broke from the party to create a new party – what remained of the Partido Justicialista is divided between those who support Cristina’s former minister Randazzo and those who support Mayor Massa. Cristina claims she doesn’t feel like an obstacle to the party’s unity, arguing “we won the elections. It’s hard to be an obstacle by winning the elections. And especially, being told that by those who didn’t get the results they expected”. Furthermore, she defended her “former” party and some of its prominent members by saying the government was persecuting them with help from the judicial branch: “To have an administration be compared to an illegal organization is an attack against democracy. It’s nonsense. The Judiciary has lost a lot of its prestige with this. It’s all part of a plan to persecute me” That’s Cristina in a nutshell.