Today is the 205th anniversary of the May Revolution, which paved Argentina’s road to independence from Spain. Thousands of people headed over to the Plaza de Mayo today to celebrate and while big international bands such as Bersuit Bergarabat, Molotov and La Ley were performing, much of the attention focused on President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s big speech on Cadena Nacional. It’s her last May 25th in office, so we were all curious to hear what she had to say.
Well, she spoke for an hour and fifteen minutes, so she said a lot. Unfortunately, none of it was about the May Revolution. Just like she’s did last year (and the year before that) she used the almighty Cadena to deliver a highly partisan, highly divisive politically charged message in which once again she made it clear that the Kirchner doctrine is as strong as ever: If the people stand with her, the future looks as bright as unicorns and rainbows. If come December people vote against her party, Argentina will once again be shrouded in darkness and the horrors of the 90s (a neoliberal economy) and of the 70s (the violation of human rights) will somehow come back from the past to ruin our lives.
Because when it comes to fear mongering, nobody does it better than Cristina.
Her message also included a detailed recount of her administration’s greatest hits and a reminder that Argentina’s road to independence may have begun on May 25th of 1810, but the real independence began on May 25th, 2003, when her late husband Néstor Kirchner was inaugurated President.
Everything else before that date is just background noise.
I could go on about how disappointing this Cadena was, but I’d rather let you watch it first and then focus on some highlights later.
Now, my problem tonight was not the use of the Cadena Nacional to deliver a partisan message in an electoral year. I’m not one of those people who drop their monocles at the sight of Cristina breaking protocol. I don’t scream “someone please, think of the children!” whenever she refuses to follow the rules of etiquette. I actually love it when she vogues on television and on any other day I would agree with many of the things she said, especially when it comes to her administration’s accomplishments.
However, my intelligence is insulted whenever she brings up this “me against the world” dynamic and accuses the media, the political opposition or just those who don’t support her of being divisive when it’s her and her polarizing rhetoric alone that’s brought this country to a degree of polarization rarely seen in its history (to be fair, media outlets such as Clarín have greatly contributed to this, but as President, she should stay above the fray).
Because when Cristina hears she did something that offended you, she gets offended in return so she attacks again. And hence forms a never ending vicious cycle of hate in which many of those who initially just didn’t like her, today feel she’s a monster only comparable to Adolf Hitler.
Here are some of the things she said during her speech today:
- On her legacy: “Besides everything we’ve built, the most important thing is that we’ve once again built a country. We’re proud of it. This is not ambition of power, they want to make people think that it’s good to change everything every four years. Because when everything changes, everything stays the same. This is why this 12-year long transformation process needs to continue”.
- On unions: “I hope after December 10 union leaders will work as hard to maintain the salaries and benefits that Argentine workers have achieve in these twelve years. I want to address workers especially, because they know here they have a political project, a way of handling the state that has proven that we weren’t just going through a short good period”.
- On her political future: “Don’t be afraid. You may go after my daughter, attack my son, you can say whatever you want about me, but rest assured that for as long as I’m President of this country I will keep defending its interests”.
- On accusations of corruption: “I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have no bank accounts overseas to be discovered. On the contrary, others were found to own thousands of accounts abroad”.
- On 2003 as a new beginning: “When we lost the elections in 1983, when people wanted democracy and life, they didn’t see those hopes reflected on the faces of our leaders. We must take responsibility for that and we came to repay that debt”.
- On the media and the dictatorship: “How could the media not talk about what was going on inside the ESMA?” (Where many were tortured and killed back in the 70s). Well, to be fair at least one newspaper, the Buenos Aires Herald, was doing everything in its power to tell the world what the monstrous de fact government was doing to people. That should not be forgotten.
- On people upset with the name of the Kirchner Cultural Center: “If you’re not happy with the name, why don’t you build a nicer and bigger center and call it whatever you want?” (Ha. Burn!)
- On Argentina’s bilateral relations with the US: “Argentina no longer has carnal relations with anyone”.
- On fear mongering, just because: “Pay attention to everything that happens because they may try to do things to make people angry, to make people afraid”. (It’s unclear who “they” are).
- On opposition leaders who are now backtracking and supporting some of her most popular political achievements: “Now I suddenly hear that the Universal Child Allowance is OK, that they will not privatize Aerolíneas Argentinas or YPF. Oh, please! Go see for yourselves”.