Cristina Kirchner is the most powerful leader of Peronism. She made it clear this Thursday before tens of thousands of people in the Plaza de Mayo, where she was the only speaker at the event for the 20th anniversary of her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner, coming to power. For an hour, she talked a lot about the past and little or nothing about the present. It didn’t matter much, at least in political terms. Kirchner took the stage to display her power of convocation within the government alliance, the Frente de Todos, and clarify that she will be the one who will put together the electoral strategy for the general elections in October. The president, Alberto Fernández, was not even invited to the event. While his vice president spoke on a huge stage in front of the Casa Rosada, he traveled to the Atlantic coast to take advantage of the festive bridge on May 25, national day.
The party that governs in Argentina does not have a candidate for the October elections and the crowd expected this Thursday at least one clue. Kirchner did not give it. We had to settle for seeing the faces that populated the stage. Behind him, very close, was the Minister of the Interior, Eduardo de Pedro, his man in the Fernández Cabinet. And also the Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, the man chosen by the vice president as the last table in the face of the crisis. It has not gone well for Massa, who until now has been able to do little to prevent inflation from remaining above 100% per year or the international reserves of the Central Bank drying up. But Kirchner and Peronism don’t have too many options.
The vice president and her companions sing the national anthem from the stage, this Thursday. LUIS ROBAYO (AFP)
“What better place than to meet again in the Plaza de Mayo, the Plaza de la Patria. Exactly 20 years ago we arrived with him [con Néstor Kirchner] here, to this very square”, said the vice president at the start of her speech. She then strung together ideas that were already known without reading: she defended her management as president, criticized former president Mauricio Macri, the media, the International Monetary Fund, and treated the Supreme Court as an “undignified jerk.” She then called to put together a project that would make the progressive electorate “fall in love” again and criticized those who call for the end of Peronism. “Why exterminate Peronism, if winning is enough,” she told the crowd.
The afternoon was ready for the Kirchnerist epic. It had rained all day in Buenos Aires and, despite the fact that Cristina Kirchner had to speak around four in the afternoon, people filled the Plaza de Mayo early. There was great expectation. “Go to the square to see what I say”, the vice president had announced a few days ago in her first television interview in six years and thousands of militants filled her waiting for her to make an electoral decision a month after the closing of the lists for the August primaries.
Thank you very much for so much love. It’s what has kept me going. Without you, without love, without the rosaries that reach me, without God and without the Virgin; I would not be here pic.twitter.com/6pjfUOVLuz
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) May 25, 2023
“It has to be her,” asked Elvira, 64, who had arrived with her friend Susana from Luján, two hours by bus from the province of Buenos Aires. “She called us and here we are. We are not leaving her, she is not going to leave the people hanging”. When, a few minutes after three in the afternoon, a voice over the loudspeaker in the square announced that Kirchner was about to take the stage, the lines of people sought refuge against the buildings on Avenida Diagonal Norte, under the scaffolding of the Cabildo building and the tents that covered some of the scattered grills began to sing: “President! Cristina president!” The slogan was applauded on stage while the vice president took the floor.
Supporters of Cristina Kirchner listen to her speech on May 25, 2023 in the Plaza de Mayo. LUIS ROBAYO (AFP)
Dale, say it! a young man was encouraged to shout when the vice president had been talking about the achievements of her first government for about 20 minutes and the militants looked at her in silence on the screens around the square. Her scream broke the lethargy and harangued again the request that Kirchner run for president. He did not do it. Neither did she point to another despite the fact that the three favorites of Peronism surrounded her on stage as she spoke. “If it’s not going to be her, we still need her to choose. We have to start militarizing our candidate,” said Néstor Flores, 24, who had traveled from La Matanza, a Kirchnerist electoral stronghold on the Buenos Aires periphery. The vice president said goodbye when the first thunder of the storm began to sound and the square became deconcentrated in silence. Those who went to hear the name of a chosen one will have to wait.
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