Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner survives an assassination attempt

The attack, which shook the country, was widely condemned by numerous political leaders and social activists from around the world

September 02, 2022 by Tanya Wadhwa
Argentine Vice President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, thanking supporters who have gathered outside her home since last week in her support in the face of ongoing judicial and political persecution against her. (Photo:Cristina Fernández de Kirchner/Twitter)

On Thursday, September 1, Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after a man aimed a handgun at point-blank range at her, but the gun did not fire.

The incident took place outside Fernández de Kirchner’s home in Buenos Aires’ Recoleta neighborhood, where hundreds of protesters have been gathered since last week to express their support for the former president in the face of the judicial and political persecution against her.

Fernández de Kirchner was greeting supporters outside her home, after returning from the senate, when a man emerged from the crowd, raised a handgun to her face, and attempted to shoot, but the gun seemed to misfire. The incident was captured by television cameras that were at the scene.

According to local media, police arrested the gunman, who was identified as Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old man of Brazilian origin. He was carrying a 22-caliber Bersa pistol. The officers are now trying to establish a motive for the attack.

Addressing the nation late on Thursday night, President Alberto Fernández said that “Cristina remains alive because, for some reason not yet technically confirmed, the gun, which contained five bullets, did not fire.”

President Fernández strongly condemned the attack, calling it “the most serious incident since we recovered democracy in 1983.”

Referring to the aversion expressed to the vice president in the media in recent days by the opposition forces, the head of state emphasized that “we can disagree, we can have deep disagreements, but hate speech cannot take place because it breeds violence and there is no chance of violence coexisting with democracy.”

President Fernández said that “we are facing an event that has an extreme institutional and human seriousness. Our vice president has been attacked and social peace has been disturbed.”

The president called on each Argentine, the political and social leadership, and the media to repudiate the incident and reject any form of violence. “We need to repudiate the disqualifying and stigmatizing words that divide us,” he said.

He also declared a national holiday on Friday to allow Argentines time to “express themselves in defense of life, democracy and in solidarity with the vice president.”

National condemnation

The attack, which shook the country, was widely condemned by numerous political leaders and social activists. Social organizations and popular movements called on people to increase the mobilizations to defend the vice president. The political organization, La Cámpora, has called for a massive march in “defense of democracy and in solidarity with the vice president” at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires at 12 pm today.

The ruling Frente de Todos coalition also published a statement repudiating the attempt on the life of the nation’s vice president. “We have been warning the people about it. The incitements to hatred directed from different spheres of political, media and judicial power against the former president, only led to a climate of extreme violence. We urge the leadership as a whole, the media and society as a whole to join in this repudiation, as well as to commit themselves to the search for social peace over and above all differences,” stated the coalition.

Economic Minister Sergio Massa condemned that attack, stating “when hate and violence prevail over debate, societies are destroyed and situations like these arise: attempted assassination.”

A group of 13 human rights organizations, including Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained for Political Reasons, Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Oblivion and Silence (HIJOS), among others, issued a statement rejecting the attempted assassination of the vice president. “We call on all of society to condemn the assassination attempt that puts coexistence at serious risk and constitutes an unprecedented event in our 40 years of democracy. We demand the fastest clarification of this terrible criminal act,” they stated.

Former president and one of the main opposition leaders, Mauricio Macri, also rejected that attack. “This very serious fact requires immediate and profound clarification by the justice system and the security forces.”

Buenos Aires’ mayor, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, of the opposition party Republican Proposal (PRO), repudiated the attack and expressed his solidarity with the vice president. He urged the country’s “Justice to act quickly to clarify the facts.” “This is a turning point in the democratic history of our country. Today, more than ever, all Argentines have to work together for peace,” he tweeted.

International solidarity

The attempted murder of Fernández de Kirchner was widely condemned by leaders, movements and organizations from around the world.

Bolivian President Luis Arce, was among the first international leaders to condemn the attack against the Argentine vice president. “We emphatically repudiate the attack on the life of sister Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Vice President of Argentina. From the Plurinational State of Bolivia we send all our support to her, her family, the Argentine government and people,” he tweeted.

Former Bolivian President and current head of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism party, Evo Morales, also repudiated the “cowardly assassination attempt against our sister Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.” Morales emphasized that “the criminal right and subservient to imperialism shall not pass. The free and dignified people of Argentina will defeat it.”

Chilean President Gabriel Boric also sent his solidarity and affirmed that “the assassination attempt on the vice president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández, deserves the repudiation and condemnation of the entire continent. The path shall always be the debate of ideas and dialogue, never weapons or violence.”

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel also rejected the attempted assassination and sent his country’s solidarity.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry, through Twitter, expressed its government’s concern about the incident and expressed its solidarity.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro also strongly repudiated the attack. “We strongly repudiate this action that seeks to destabilize the peace of the brotherly Argentine people. The Great Homeland is with you comrade!,” he tweeted.

Former president and current presidential candidate for the Workers’ Party of Brazil (PT), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, also expressed his “solidarity with comrade Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the victim of a fascist criminal who does not know how to respect differences and diversity.” “Cristina is a woman who deserves the respect of every Democrat in the world. Thank God she escaped unharmed,” he added.

The Executive Secretary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), Sacha Llorenti, also condemned and repudiated the terrible incident and expressed the organization’s solidarity with the Argentine vice president, her family and the people of Argentina.

Pope Francis also expressed his repudiation of the attack. “Having received the worrying news of the attack that your Excellency suffered yesterday afternoon, I wish to express my solidarity and closeness in this delicate moment,” the Argentine Pope wrote in a letter. He added: “I pray that in our beloved Argentina social harmony and respect for democratic values may always prevail, against all types of violence and aggression”.

In addition to these leaders, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Carlos Faria, among several others, condemned the attack against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and expressed their solidarity.