Argentina has a long history of the deification of political figures. One of the instances most commonly known around the world is the story of Evita Perón, the governmental social work leader and wife of President Juan Perón. Comparisons are often drawn between Evita and current president Cristina Kirchner, who is also the wife of an influential president — Nestor Kirchner.
Though Evita isn’t necessarily universally loved in Argentina, affection for her appears unanimous next to the divided — or more correctly negative at 30 percent approval according to The Economist — public opinion of Cristina. A sluggish economy, partially due to an unending battle with the United States over its foreign debt, has made Kirchner quite unpopular in the country.
Even worse, Cristina’s government is viewed with suspicion by many Argentines after two indictments for vice-president Amado Boudou last year. Moreover, Kirchner’s government is also perceived by much of the international community to be lying about inflation and employment levels, reported the New York Times. That’s when they’ll even talk about it — Cristina’s people often refuse to even discuss such things. Hernán Lorenzino, Argentina’s economic minister from 2011 to 2013, famously walked out of an interview with Greek television when he was asked about the matter.
Of course, meddling with the economy is nothing near the accusations currently being waged against Kirchner. A large group of people in the country currently believe that Cristina was responsible for the death of Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who had recently publicly declared he had evidence that Kirchner had covered up an Iranian link to a 1994 bombing of Jewish center in Buenos Aires in order to secure a trade deal. He was found shot dead the morning he was supposed to present his research, in what is either a tragic suicide or a heinous murder.
That murder theory certainly isn’t without its proponents — tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets Monday evening to express their belief that Cristina has Alberto’s blood on her hands. Much of the international press has also sided with this interpretation of events, or at the very least that Iran was responsible. One piece in the Times of Israel recounts how columnist David Horovitz was told personally by Nisman that he had received several death threats because of his investigative work into the case.
“On his first visit to Israel seven years ago, Nisman, a non-observant Jew, told me that he had been warned off the AMIA case by Iran, and that he had received death threats, including one that he found recorded on his home answering machine which was particularly troubling because his daughter was standing next to him when he played it. In one of several subsequent telephone conversations, he said the Iranians had told him — during hearings at which they sought in vain to have their incriminated leaders cleared by Interpol — that he had slandered their nation, that his capture would be sought, and that he would spend years in Iran’s jails.”
While a history of violent and corrupt leaders has many Argentines concerned about Kirchner’s role, many other options have yet to be explored in the case. Cristina, while unpopular, still holds a very devoted fan base who has also been outspoken defending the president. Even some local media, often critical of Kirchner, has been cautionary about the evidence stacked against her. Colin Docherty, a columnist for local English language news site the Bubble, argued that Cristina lacked a clear motive in getting rid of Alberto as his evidence had obviously been shared with other sources and would still come to light.
“Kirchner called Nisman’s bluff. His career was over, his decade long investigation was for nothing, and his nuclear option was just a self-interested trick by Stiusso to give him leverage to keep his own position. The Iran link is now dead, both metaphorically and literally. But the damage done to the reputation of Cristina’s government will never be repaired – no matter what facts are put forward, a large portion of the population will continue to believe that someone acting on Kichner’s orders killed Nisman.”
No matter what theory turns out to be prove true from the debacle, Cristina Kirchner won’t be in a position to do anything about it for much longer. Argentina’s presidential elections are scheduled for October of this year.