Argentina Declares Public Holiday Following Attack on Vice President Kirchner

President Alberto Fernández declared a public holiday to allow for demonstrations to protest against Thursday night’s attack on Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

(Photo: Tomás Cuesta/Getty Images South America).
By Belén Escobar (EN), Mariano Espina (EN) and Adam Critchley
September 02, 2022 | 09:30 AM
Reading time: 2 min.

Buenos Aires — After a night of mass demonstrations in the vicinity of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s house in Buenos Aires after she was approached by a man brandishing a pistol and who allegedly attempted to open fire, President Alberto Fernández declared a public holiday for this Friday, and which will be marked by a number of marches and demonstrations across the country as an expression of rejection of the attack.

Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old Brazilian, was detained following the attack, which occurred outsider Kirchner’s house as she returned home in the evening and was greeting supporters in the street. The alleged assailant pointed a pistol at Kirchner’s head and appeared to pull the trigger, but the gun did not go off.

According to local media, the suspect had previously been arrested for carrying a weapon, in March 2021.

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Following the attack, demonstrators gathered outside the vice president’s home from midnight, and which included members of the ruling party, to express their support for Kirchner, who also served as president from 2007 to 2015.

President Alberto Fernández said Friday’s holiday would be “so that, in peace and harmony, the Argentine people can express themselves in defense of life, democracy and in solidarity with our vice-president”.

“The Argentine people want to live in democracy and peace and our government is firmly committed to work every day to achieve this,” the president said in a TV address.

“We are obliged to recover the democratic coexistence that has been broken by hate speeches and spread by political and judicial and media spaces in Argentina”, the president added.

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“In a democratic society, discourses that promote hate cannot have a place because they engender violence,” he added, calling the attack on Kirchner “an event of enormous gravity, the most serious since we recovered democracy”.

Banking union La Bancaria called for national demonstrations to express rejection of the attack, and which it called an assassination attempt against the vice president as part of the “political and media persecution” that, it said, Kirchner has suffered in recent weeks.

“This [day’s] holiday should serve to mobilize us against hate and political violence, making clear our unlimited defense of democratic values,” the union said.

Es en repudio del atentado a Cristina Kirchner.dfd

Last month, prosecutor Diego Luciani called for Kirchner to be sentenced to a 12-year prison sentence and barred from holding public office, accusing her of corruption. Kirchner’s supports claim the allegations are politically motivated.

Kirchner is the widow of Néstor Kirchner, who served as Argentina’s president from 2003 to 2007, and who died in 2010.

The ruling Frente de Todos coalition also called on its members and supporters to march and gather in the capital’s Plaza de Mayo, “under the flag of defending democracy”, and who will be joined by members of the Movimiento Evita movement.

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Reaction

Representatives of Argentina’s political and business circles have expressed their condemnation of Thursday night’s attack.

Former president Mauricio Macri, who served from 2015 to 2019 and succeeded Cristina Kirchner in the role, said that “the extremely serious event requires an immediate and thorough clarification by the justice and security forces”.

Opposition party Unión Cívica Radical also expressed its condemnation of the attack, while the US ambassador to Argentina, Marc Stanley, also condemned the alleged assassination attempt.

Argentina’s industrial union (UIA) also expressed its “most energetic repudiation of the attack”.

“Argentine industrialists ratify our commitment to peace, dialogue and the basic consensus that will allow the country to move forward,” the UIA said in a statement.

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