Argentina is a “democracy.” Yes, it has the legislative, judiciary and executive branches styled after the U.S. Constitution, but what it does not have is a democratic president.
Cristina Kirchner, wife of the late former President Nestor Kirchner, was democratically elected in 2007 as President of Argentina and is currently running for reelection. A peronist by nature, Kirchner has a long track record of controversial policies. For example, Kirchner supported a 52 percent tax for soy bean farmers, and she also proposed a “Ley de Medios” which broke up a media monopoly that opposes her policies, called Clarin, by forcing the company to sell many of its radio and television stations and replace them with stations that defend the president’s policies. These are two major policies that define the Kirchner presidency.
Both of these policies were designed to put up a fight with her political opposition, but last weekend, her government’s attitudes toward the opposition reached new heights.
Guillermo Moreno, Kirchner’s Secretary of Commerce, attended a rally by the Propuesta Republicana (PRO). PRO is an opposition party headed by the popular Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri. His cousin, Jorge Macri is running for Mayor of a well-populated region in the Greater Province of Buenos Aires called Vicente Lopez. Jorge Macri won 29 percent of the vote in the recent September primaries, which led him to obtain the largest percentage of any candidate.
Jorge Macri’s supporters were campaigning last weekend in Vicente Lopez. Guillermo Moreno, along with Kirchner’s supporters, approached Macri’s campaign and began to beat them up. Moreno grabbed one of Macri’s supporters, Mario Urcelay, by the neck and threw him against his car. The incident was videotaped and, as of this writing, has 256,000 hits on Google.
However, the current president is oblivious. She was asked about the incident and responded that Moreno is “an honest man that meets his responsibilities.” She didn’t oppose him or fire him, but supported him.
The Moreno case is a prime example of how Kirchner deals with her opposition. This whole fiasco is easy to understand. Kirchner doesn’t deal with her opposition; she just sends her own people to do the dirty work.
This is the current President of Argentina. Kirchner will easily win her reelection this weekend and the country will go ruled by a Kirchner for four more years, adding up to 12 years of Kirchnerism if including her husband’s first term.
As an Argentinean citizen and an American student who is currently studying abroad, I find this astonishing. Could Americans imagine if a member of Obama’s cabinet went up to a Republican rally and started beating up their supporters? He or she would easily be fired.
Argentina’s politicians have low respect for the law. It’s not just Kirchner. Argentina has a long record of corrupt politicians like former President Carlos Menem who is known for stealing millions of dollars from the country, former President Eduardo Duhalde and current candidate for President who is suspected for drug trafficking, former President Fernando De La Rua who sent mounted police to beat up protesters in the crisis of 2001 and the list goes on.
While Argentina is a “democracy,” it lacks political dialogue and law-abiding politicians. The country needs change in this week’s elections, not the same.