Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gave yet another interview yesterday, following her new strategy of trying to engage with a different audience than her base by talking to the media, and particularly outlets that are not outright friendly to her.
This time, she went to Crónica, a TV channel known for approaching the news in a lighter and, in occasions, a somewhat frivolous tone. Most of the interview happened along those lines: journalist Samuel “Chiche” Gelblung asked her about her favorite foods, if she likes making the bed, sweep and do housework and whether she would go out with Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who’s got a rather different political vision to her (she said she’d rather become a nun), among other things.
But during the time when Gelblung took the interview to the political terrain, there was a question that stood out, as it hadn’t been asked to her before: her stance on the state’s responsibility in the Once railway tragedy, where 51 people were killed and 789 injured. In fact, journalist Luis Novaresio – who interviewed her for the first time in this new era of hers – was questioned for not having asked her, and he admitted that he should have but didn’t have enough time.
Fernández had never addressed the issue, and her answer made the rounds: she said that the state wasn’t responsible for the tragedy: “the motorman didn’t pull the brakes at the end. The train stopped in all stations before. But if you don’t stop and crash, well. In the hearings, he could never explain why he didn’t pull the breaks,” she argued.
The judiciary begs to differ. The two transportation secretaries during her administrations, Juan Pablo Schiavi and Ricardo Jaime, were sentenced to eight and six years in prison, respectively. A tribunal determined that their corrupt practices were a key factor that caused the state of the train and the rails to deteriorate so much that an accident of the kind became almost inevitable.
Moreover, the former Planning Minister during her two administrations, as well as her late husband Néstor Kirchner’s, Julio De Vido, faced the first hearing of the trial against him for being – also allegedly – partly responsible for it.
Here are other relevant – and not so much – statements of her interview:
“I wasn’t impressed when I was told that I had thyroid cancer. But when I was hospitalized, I thought I was done.”
“I didn’t cry next to Néstor’s coffin. I cried alone because he wouldn’t have liked it.”
“I don’t read my biography nor Néstor’s. Because if they are true, I know what happened. And if they are lies, I’m not interested.”
“I’m reading a book that Novaresio gave me and now I want to give him one back.”
“I am a fan of ‘Game of Thrones.'”
“I’m very fun.”
“I was never poor to the extent of being hungry. Today, there are people who die of hunger.”
“I was demonized, stigmatized. There was never a ruler who was as mistreated as I was. It was ‘war journalism.'”
“Néstor told me: ‘people are going to ask more from you than me because you are a woman.'”
“Why I’m running for office? Because I want to do the right thing. I don’t want people to suffer. I’m not a Kirchnerite, I’m a Peronist.”