The weapon was a few centimeters from the face of the Argentine vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchnerwhen Fernando Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old man of Brazilian origin who has lived in the country since he was 6, pulled the trigger twice, without any of the projectiles leaving the chamber. Argentina was saved from an assassinationbut the attack against the country’s most important political figure has created an anxiety of consequences impossible to calibrate yet.
The aggressor, who exhibits neo-fascist tattoos and had a criminal record for illegal possession of weapons, was reduced at the time, but long minutes passed in which no one seemed to have taken dimension of the danger in which the former president was (2007-2015). Not even she, who continued to greet and sign autographs for supporters who had come to her home in the city of Buenos Airesnor his custody, which still allowed his protégé to climb on top of a car and smile once again at his followers, when he had been a trifle away from losing his life.
Judging by the symbols engraved on his body, the first indications lead one to think of “a politically motivated attack” by a “follower of neo-Nazi ideas”, he poses to Public Doctor in Political Science Julio Burdman. This analyst dismisses the premise that he is a madman on the loose. “Even if he led the attack individually, this person is part of a universe of meaning that adheres to radical ideas and that adherence became an extremist political political act,” he says. “This is a matter of political analysis, not psychological.”
A background judgment
Two catalysts of the attack observes Burdman, director of the political and social studies consultancy Electoral Observatory and professor at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). The first is “the hyperpolarized discourse of contemporary Argentina, with very strong radicalization discourses that slip into the political debate.”
Julio Burdman: “This is a subject of political analysis, not psychological”
Deputy Francisco Sánchez, belonging to the main opposition bloc, Together for Changedemanded a few days ago the death penalty for the vice president after learning that the prosecution is asking for twelve years in prison in the trial in which she is prosecuted for the alleged direction of public works carried out in the province of Santa Cruz (south) during the years of her government and those of her husband, the late Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007).
Under this judicial process, death threats against Cristina Fernández intensified in some opposition marches. Some with megaphone in hand. Others resorted to more explicit symbols, such as the gallows.
“Another not minor aspect is the mismanagement of the security operation around the vice president,” ponders Burdman. The specialist reports that the vice president was left in a vulnerable situation every time she entered and left her home on foot, located in a building that does not have its own parking lot. “For twelve days, when Demonstrations for and against began in front of his home due to the legal case he has for acts of corruption, all logistics was chaos”.
The political discussion about the security of the former president was twisted in the dilemma of whether her security depended on the Federal Police, under the sphere of the national government, or that of Buenos Aires, managed by the head of government (mayor’s office) of the capital, in opposing hands.
Juan Negri: “Signs of polarization have been seen in public discourse”
Within the Latin American context, Argentina manifested very little political violence, but in recent times there have been “signs of polarization in public discourse and a growing willingness to take extreme and very conflicting positions, with a deep disbelief in the democratic credentials of the other “, considers the also doctor in Political Science John Black.
Given the request for the conviction of the vice president, “a certain radicalization of the followers of each side was seen,” Negri, director of Political Science and International Studies at the Di Tella University. “Kirchnerism voters believe it is an operation against her, and macrismo voters believe she is completely corrupt and should be condemned.”
The attempted assassination of Cristina Fernandez, which was in turn an attempt at political femicide, places her in the condition of a victim, even though this situation exasperates those who have begun to make political calculations about the advantage that the vice president may have in next year’s general elections . “This could bring greater polarization, if the government is not up to the task and starts attacking the opposition as undemocraticand if the opposition, instead of condemning the act, tries to make a profit”, observes Negri.
for the political scientist Javier Cachesconsultant and teacher at the UBA, on Thursday night “a line was crossed that had never been crossed since the return of democracy, by putting violence at the center of the agenda as a vehicle to resolve political issues.”
Since the capitulation of the dictatorship (1976-1983), “political parties and civil society entered democracy building a great consensus that invalidated and delegitimized political violence as a means to resolve issues of power,” he recalls.
Javier Cachés: “A line was crossed that had never been crossed since the return of democracy”
Cachés observes the first sources of radicalization starting in 2008, when Cristina Fernández maintained a pulse with employers and agricultural producers to increase the withholdings on crops of soybean, wheat, corn and sunflower with a scheme of mobile deposits according to its international price, which almost cost him the presidency. “Since then, Argentina has experienced a dynamic of political polarization that can be generalized to other modern democracies,” says this analyst. “But as seen in other countries, this political division into two increasingly opposed and separated factions has an asymmetrical dynamic, in which one side, the power block going from the center to the righthas become more radical than its antagonist, in this case Peronism”.
This movement, led by Cristina Fernández, “has been the object of permanent stigmatization and delegitimization campaigns, with increasingly frequent hate speech,” says Cachés. Violent slogans or body bags in marches called by the opposition are the graphic image of that breeding ground with which the political environment is tense and contributes to a state of exasperation.
“There is a whole dynamic in some referents of Together for Change – alliance that under another name led Mauricio Macri to the presidency (2015-2019) -, plus the emergence of far-right referentswhich has given free rein to a kind of social fascism in a part of society,” he alleges. “This episode implies a turning point in Argentine democracy, a wake-up call that reminds us that democracy is not a guaranteed conquest. , but it must be revalidated and built permanently”.
political scientist Facundo Cruz, meanwhile, evaluates the assassination attempt as the last level of political polarization that Argentina has reached. “This puts at risk decades and decades of justice, of memory, of a democratic system that was consolidated and stabilized after decades of much political violence,” he assumes.
the senator Edith Terence, belonging to the coalition that evicted Kirchnerism from the Executive after twelve years in power, acknowledges the shock in which Argentine society finds itself. “No one in their right mind can agree with such a cowardly act and charged with the worst drive that a human being can have, which is contempt for life,” she affirms to Public.
The legislator, belonging to the Radical Civic Union that integrates Together for Change, recognizes “very tense days, with many social mobilizations and a lot of gestural and discursive violence since the beginning of the trial against the vice president.”
Edith Terenzi: “The attack is a hinge in the political and social life of the Argentine Republic”
It is precisely justice that must intervene to clarify what happened “without cracks and interference, with freedom and guarantees”, so that it serves as a containment and the violence does not spread further. “The attack against the vice president is a hinge in the political and social life of the Argentine Republic,” says Terenzi. “We are not just talking about the life of a person, nothing more and nothing less than that of the vice president, but of the life of the Argentine institutional system“.
The senator calls for greater awareness among business, social, media and union leaders to “lower the escalation of violence and have a different message of cohesion and national unity”. Special mention is made to his colleagues in politics, who owe the country a reflection on what has happened so that they can “live together democratically and with respect”.
the national deputy leonardo grosso, for his part, indicates that it was a miracle that the bullet did not come out of the weapon aimed at Cristina Fernández. The leader of the Evita Movement, a Peronist social organization close to the government, considers that the attack sets “a limit that has been crossed in Argentine democracy.” His conclusion is one: build “as large a unit as possible between the entire political, social, economic, and leadership arc in Argentina to put a ‘never again’ in this type of violence”.