Category Archives: Kirchner (Bryan)

Kirchner’s Public Discourse

By Bryan Weiner

One of the key elements of a leader’s personality is their ability for public discourse. The Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech dealt with the issue of a leader who had a stutter and a fear of public speaking. Many claim that President Obama’s surge in popularity and his eventual unlikely presidential candidacy came from the moving keynote speech that he gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as well has a very distinctive and passionate style of public speaking and social media presence that highlights some key aspects of her persona and her character.

Many political speeches given by Latin American leaders are filled with fiery and passionate rhetoric. The charged speeches of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Che Guevara’s call of “hasta la victoria siempre” resonate in the political discourse of the region. Kirchner is no different. Many of her speeches are passionate calls to her nation and her people to fight for what is right and for a better future for Argentina; a future that is in line with her Peronist/Kirchnerist populist and nationalistic vision for the country. In an analysis of Kirchner’s speeches conducted by Victor Armony, a researcher from the University of Quebec, he highlights the 10 most commonly used words in Kirchner’s speeches. What is unique about her speeches is the use of the word “creo” meaning, “I believe,” which he claims simultaneously shows the “force of her conviction and the possibility of her error.” He does however, also analyze that her “emphasis on ‘message’ and ‘vision’” can be powerful, but it can also come off as contrived. This is very noticeable in some of her other speeches and the criticisms they have drawn; they are moving and powerful, but they have a sense of a having a very carefully crafted message. One other noticeable element of her speeches is that they are very much directed at the average people and citizens of Argentina (generally not an unusual tactic for politicians). She uses this to reinforce the populist values of her overall political message.

With social media, however, leaders have an entirely new platform with which to connect to their citizens. This is a platform that has served Kirchner very well and ties directly in to her speaking style. Colin Docherty analyzes the unusual twitter presence of Kirchner and makes many interesting connections. Kirchner often doesn’t use the typical style of Twitter: condensing down information into a concise 140-character message. She will give the full text of speeches she has made over the course of 30-40 tweets or will speak conversationally over a series of tweets (the only time she makes stand-alone tweets are when they contain pictures or links to articles). Docherty theorizes that she is trying to connect directly to her base in her very open and conversational manner, and use that to carefully deliver her often-controversial message. When reading some of the tweets and their comments, this becomes very apparent; she is making casual connections and getting people to respond to her (although she never responds back to them).

What does this say about Kirchner’s persona, though? It tells a great deal about who she is as a leader and who she is as a person. Her passion and her conviction come through very clearly in both her speeches and her tweets, but they also reveal her to be a savvy politician with a very calculated message.

Kirchner: The Movement

By Bryan Weiner

Siempre voy a estar junto a ustedes desde cualquier lado, porque por sobre todas las cosas, soy una militante peronista de toda la vida” (I will always be with you from any side, because above all things, I am a lifelong Peronist militant/activist) – Twitter: 7/10/13.

Shortly after it was revealed that Evo Morales’ plane was forced to land in Austria due to pressure from the United States who believed that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was aboard, there was an emergency meeting of left-leaning Latin American leaders enraged by the incident. Upon leaving from that meeting, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, furiously tweeted about the need for Latin American leaders to come together to oppose the next wave of colonialism coming from the north, in the form of espionage and by keeping poor Latin American countries in the role of raw-material exporting economies. She called on the need for Latin American leaders to come together, rise up, and create a new world order and a “second independence”. She ended with the first quote, declaring that she is a Peronist militant for life.

These are strong words coming from a president who has incorporated the notion of revolutionary militancy as part of her political persona and presidential rhetoric. However, in order to gain a true understanding of who Kirchner is, it is important to look at the crucial (albeit short) period of time when Kirchner was actually involved in the political student movement.

Interestingly, while as a student at the University of La Plata she was quite involved in the Peronist movement and the various student groups aligned with the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionaria (FAR – the Armed Revolutionary Forces) with her soon-to-be husband, Nestor Kirchner, she never fully joined the actual militant group, the Montoneros. Her biography describes how she first became active in the movement when she was witness to the Ezeiza Massacre (a bloody massacre that occurred when right-wing Peronist forces opened fire on a crowd of the left-wing Peronists who were greeting Perón on his return from exile in Spain). During her university days, Néstor and Cristina regularly had militants stay in their home and she was even imprisoned for nearly a month (Chap. 8 “El Sur”) in January 1976 for her association with militants. Shortly after this she began to have a number of her close friends “disappear” and she and her husband decided to go to the safer and more out-of-the-way Patagonia following the military coup that overthrew the government of Isabel Perón on March 29th, 1976.

After working their way up through the political ranks, Néstor and Cristina burst back on to the political scene with their new form of left-leaning Peronism, often referred to as Kirchnerism, to rebuild the country through what Cristina now refers to as “La Década Ganada”. Her tweets, like the example, often play on the revolutionary leftist spirit that has swept much of Latin America. The rhetoric of anti-imperialism has a great deal of sway in a region that has borne the brunt of the heavy-handed, neo-imperialist policies of the United States.

Her experience as a militant leads one to question whether her militancy is really an expression of her ideals or whether it is part of a carefully crafted political strategy. She was outspoken and involved during her college days, but she was able to avoid the oppression and violence that many of her classmates and fellow revolutionaries faced. However, had she joined the ranks of the disappeared, she would never have had the opportunity to work within the system and create the revolutionary changes that have come through the last 10 years. Participation in violence doesn’t make someone a militant and Kirchner has certainly shown that she is willing to fight for what she believes in, but her championing Peronist militancy does fit very well into the greater political rhetoric that is sweeping Latin America.


Nestor and Cristina: A Presidential Love

By Bryan Weiner

When Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner opened her Instagram account on September 29th 2013, she posted 3 very emotional photos of herself and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner. The first of the three photos was a glamorous shot of Cristina with Nestor in the background, winking at her. One of the commentators replied “La Patria se hizo amor. Amor se hizo Patria.” (The homeland created their love. Their love created the homeland). The second photo is of a young, militant Néstor shrugging his shoulders. Cristina captioned it: “Militancia política ´no vine a dejar mis convicciones in la puerta de la Casa Rosada” (Political militancy “I didn’t come to leave my convictions at the door of the Casa Rosada – the seat of government”). The final photo shows Cristina looking longingly at her late husband and is captioned “El amor vence al odio” (Love conquers hate).

On October 27th, 2010, a few years after the end of his presidency, Néstor Kirchner died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack in El Calafate, in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, the region where he grew up and rose to political prominence. Cristina was president at the time and there was a great deal of uncertainty as to what would happen to her presidency after the death of her husband. Again, this was based on the assumption that Cristina was nothing without her husband and that she was just filling in for when he could run again for the presidency.

Cristina went through a long period of grieving. She wore nothing but black clothing in all of her public appearances. There was some criticism that this was done to win the sympathy of the Argentine public (which was successful as she easily won the election in October 2011), but when looking at the political love story that was one of the Kirchners’ legacies, it is very apparent that her grief was genuine. On November 18th, 2013, after more than three years of wearing black and after her month of mandatory bed rest from her surgery, she surprised everyone by beginning to make public appearances wearing white. In an editorial in the Economist, it was surmised that she was doing this “to have a fresh start with a government that is less combative and less tragic”.

It is clear that the extremely strong relationship between Cristina and Néstor has been a very important element in both of their presidencies. Sandra Russo’s biography of Cristina, La Presidenta: Historia de una Vida, describes in great detail the strong relationship that Cristina and Néstor had from the beginning. They met when he was student activist in the Federación Universitaria de la Revolución Nacional (FURN or the University Federation for National Revolution). They were 20 and 23 and quickly fell in love while both were involved in student activism (although neither joined the more militant wing of the movement). Six months later they were married. After the coup in 1976, they moved to Néstor’s home province in Patagonia to escape the dirty war. There they began their political careers and started a family.

They were a presidential duo from the beginning, and even though Néstor’s passing was a huge blow to Cristina, she managed to hold her own as a president, despite detractors who doubted her ability. However, the deep love between the two, who were considered and unlikely pair, has deeply resonated in both of their presidencies, and continues to resonate, even now that Cristina has made the decision to stop wearing black. This romance has been a defining element of her presidency and is an interesting reflection on her character. She is a strong, outspoken, and independent female leader of a country with a machista culture, but she has also portrayed herself as the doting, grief-stricken widow. Both seem to be essential elements of her personality and both shape her as a dynamic leader and public figure. She is not tied down by the persona of her late husband nor has she been completely incapacitated by grief over his tragic passing, but she also openly and fully acknowledges how she loves and is inspired by Néstor, and how her vision for Argentina is their vision.

Kirchner’s Mental Health

By Bryan Weiner

On July 20th, 2013, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner made an emotional speech about the Dirty War and those who had “disappeared”. By the end of the speech she and much of the audience were in tears. As if displaying emotions alone is not enough, she sometimes acts or makes statements in her emotional state. On July 27th, in a public appearance where she was speaking with a young boy, she was drawn to tears and let slip the words “puta madre” (mother fucker). She hastily apologized for the foul language in a series of tweets (for example) claiming that when she is “emotional, gets angry, is sad, or happy, she says bad words”. She has often gone on many rants on Twitter (sequences of 20 to 30 passionate tweets) on a variety of issues from attacking the press, to the Falkland Islands to lashing out at US Imperialism, for which she has been greatly criticized.

Does this say something about Kirchner’s ability as a president? Critics have suggested that she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and that she is suffering from mental health problems. Even many of the comments and replies from her followers in response to her tweets seem very concerned about her health and well being. There was an embarrassing Wikileak in 2010 exposing how Hilary Clinton sent a cable to the US Embassy in Argentina questioning Kirchner’s mental health and asking diplomats to look into how she handles stress.

Now, of course, the big news was her recent surgery and the long period of bed rest that followed her surgery as well as her recent escape from the public sphere throughout the holidays, even as Argentina went through a number of crises. The circumstances around her hospitalization were also a bit uncertain and news was kept very tight. The final explanation was that it resulted from an accidental fall that she took last August. However, there have been connections made to the fragile politics of Argentina and a loss of political support for her party. There is a big question as to whether her current medical issues are related to stress and anxiety as the carefully constructed political movement that she has built with her husband, the former president Nestor Kirchner seems to be crumbling. Kirchnerism, a populist form of government related to Peronism, and embodied through Cristina’s call of a “Victorious Decade” (La Década Ganada), is slowly becoming less popular and Argentina is coming under more criticism for unpaid debts. These concerns are probably weighing heavily on the now-widowed president.

But, is this just another attack on her as a woman? Or more specifically an attack on her as a glamorous but outspoken and leftist female leader in a macho society? Hyper-masculine society claims that women can’t be good leaders because they are too emotional. In that way, it is easy to disregard them and relegate them to certain roles; Eva Peron was the mother of Argentina… as long as she was married to a powerful man. It was questioned when Cristina took over the presidency from her husband whether she would be able to hold her own, despite having always been a powerful and extremely capable student, activist, lawyer and politician.

Now again, as thing are going sour and Kirchner is facing legitimate health issues, the question of whether she is mentally competent or whether she is just another emotional woman is starting to rear its ugly head. As a very guarded person with regards to her private life, she doesn’t openly show her coping strategies for what is probably very real stress that she is facing. She keeps it hidden and spends two weeks completely out of the spotlight. It is easy for the critical press, media and outsiders to take her rants, her emotional behavior, and her health issues and put it in to the narrative of the “woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown”, thereby playing in to society’s sexist notions of what happens to a woman facing a great deal of pressure. A controversial social media presence fits easily into this narrative. While she may legitimately be facing stress-related health issues, it is unknown, and she may just be avoiding playing into the social media game.

Kirchner: The Hospital, and Silence

By Bryan Weiner

Christmas and the New Year are important holidays in Latin American countries. Latin American leaders, as with many other leaders on Twitter, put out an obligatory posting or tweet wishing the citizens of their countries a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This year, however, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s social media accounts have been completely silent all through the holiday season. She has not made a tweet since December 13th and the only post on Facebook that she has made was to firmly declare that she has no intention of running again for president.

This new period of silence comes on the heels of six and a half weeks of mandatory bed rest after a recent surgery that she had on a hematoma that she had on her brain after a fall that she took. While she continued her social media presence between November 18th, when she was released from bed rest, and December 21st, it was subdued and very much to the point. The normally exuberant and outspoken “mother of Argentina” seems to have been silenced.

This has left many Argentinian’s quite concerned. One man commented on her Facebook post, “When are you going to show yourself on national television again. Not to give figures but to clarify to the more than forty million Argentinians everything that is happening to you (which is serious).” While the reports have said that she is in good health, there is definite concern amongst her citizens and followers on social media.

Kirchner is spending the holidays in the south of Argentina at her family’s homes in El Calafate and Rio Gallegos. She has taken a full 15 days of rest again, which was very controversial due to the fact that she never responded to a heat wave, an energy crisis and electricity and water cuts in Buenos Aires. While she has been criticized for this by La Nación, a paper that is often very critical of her presidency, it is something that is very much out-of-character for her. She has always had something to say and has never had any previous gaps in her social media presence, even during the holiday season last year.

Is Kirchner’s presidency winding down? Are there serious health concerns that have resurfaced now more than a month after the completion of her surgery? Kirchner is a person who is very outspoken about her role as a politician, but very quiet about anything to do with her personal life. It was reported that not only was she very quiet on social media, but she kept very much to herself in her family home over the holidays. This may just be a very private leader stepping briefly out of the spotlight, or it could be, as many of Kirchner’s followers have mentioned, a sign of her exhaustion.

Kirchner will be back in the office again tomorrow, Monday, January 6th, and will presumably be back on social media. It will be interesting to see whether she comes back to her earlier social media presence or whether Argentina will have a new, quieter Kirchner for the remainder of her term.

Kirchner: The Revolutionary

By Bryan Weiner

“Todo lo que falta lograr, todo lo que nos falta hacer sólo se puede hacer en democracia” – Everything we have yet to achieve, everything we still need to do, can only be done with democracy.

Kirchner recently published this quote as a meme on her Facebook page, in front of an image of her standing between two Argentinian flags, raising her hand. A large part of the image that she has constructed of herself harkens back to her student days in the Peronist youth movement and her vision of herself as a revolutionary, fighting for a brighter, democratic Argentina.

What incited this revolutionary spirit within her? To understand this question and many of her current attitudes, it is important to go back to certain events in her youth. In her biography of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, titled La Presidenta: Historia de Una Vida, the author Sandra Russo described one of the rare discussions that she had with the notoriously guarded president that shed light on some of the formative events of her childhood.

One of the key critical stories that she tells is about how the Coup of September 16, 1955, where President Juan Domingo Perón was overthrown and replaced by a transitional military government. Her lower-middle-class family had benefitted from Perón’s rent control law but after the coup, her family was forced to move houses as the rent went up. She described this as a traumatic experience for her at the time.

Another one of the key stories from her childhood that she described in the same interview was the political divide in her family. Her grandfather was a Peronist and her mother worked at a union, but her father was vehemently anti-Peronist. She recounted the story of the death of a very close uncle of hers in the fighting between Peronist and anti-Peronist forces in her neighborhood in 1963. The uncle was shot in the back by police forces after having crossed through a police roadblock. Her father blamed the incident on Peronist “guerillas” for having led to the situation that caused these policemen to shoot, even though the uncle had no connection to the Peronists. In the interview, she describes how her relationship with her father was always very distant and how she felt much more affectionate towards her grandfather. She never goes into great detail about either her father or her grandfather and she mentions her love for both of them, but in this rare discussion of her early childhood, she paints her father and grandfather into two opposing political camps, the Peronists and the anti-Peronists ,and uses this to clearly demonstrate her political understanding. She concludes with a nostalgic story of her grandfather holding her on his lap and reading to her “La Razón de Mi Vida”, the autobiography of Eva Perón. It seems highly likely  therefore, that it was her grandfather’s influence that made her align with the Peronists.

In analyzing her social media presence over the course of the past 6 months, I have noticed that she rarely discusses elements of her personal life. On the rare occasions that she does discuss her personal life on social media, she always manages to connect it to politics; she has managed to merge the personal and the political in her life. However these early glimpses from Kirchner’s childhood (in the interview mentioned above) are authentic, formative events in the young woman’s life, and clearly each of these events has some connection to her present political persona. These events are examples that begin to show her early radicalization and the emergence of her revolutionary spirit. It would be useful even necessary to go back into her childhood to understand how she became the charismatic leader that she is today, fighting for a democratic Argentina.

Kirchner: The First Female President of a Machista Society

Is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner a feminist? The strength and resilience that she has shown in leading such a divided society particularly in the face of much intense criticism has proven that she is truly one of the most powerful female leaders in the world, yet her public persona in many ways puts her in line with the traditional image of a Latin American woman. She has developed a very carefully constructed public persona, which demonstrates a very complex notion of femininity.

Earlier this year, audio was captured of Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, calling Kirchner an “old hag”. Kirchner has faced constant attacks by the press on each one of her policies; many of her tweets have criticized them of trying to do everything possible to derail her presidency. Kirchner has been referred to as “La Yegua,” or the mare, an insult portraying her as a female horse, a small step up from a female dog. (Russo Sandra – La Presidenta: Historia de Una Vida, 2011). Shortly after she was the first elected female president of Argentina (Isabel Perón was president for two years following the death of her husband, but was never elected), she was called authoritative, bi-polar, criticized for being addicted to shopping and to makeup, and seen as just following in the footsteps of her more powerful husband (Russo Sandra – La Presidenta). However, through all of these attacks, Kirchner has maintained her strong demeanor as the mother of Argentina.

Latin American cultures have always had a strong undertone of machismo and have had difficulty with powerful female figures. However, in recent years, there have been a large number of female politicians at the helm of many Latin American countries: Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Dilma Roussef of Brazil, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica. This seems to be a change, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that many of the machista attitudes have dissipated. Many of these countries have offered greater power to women, but still have clearly delineated gender roles and a masculine power hierarchy. This has a great effect on leaders who are trying to change the nation.

But Kirchner herself has created a very complex image with regards to her femininity. She portrays herself as a powerful leader, but is always extremely glamorous and has never allowed herself to be photographed without makeup. She is a populist and champion of the poor, but she wears designer clothing and a Louis Vuitton suit. She often is driven to emotion and cries publicly in front of audiences.

However, she has understood that her position as a woman in power is going to make her work harder.  She stated that “We always have to pass a twofold test: first to prove that , though women, we are no idiots, and second, the test anybody has to pass”. One of the most important movements in Argentina was the “Madres de la Plaza de Mayo”, a protest movement against the military government (the epitome of machismo) made up of women whose children had been “disappeared”. She has tied her presidency to this movement and used it to paint a picture of an Argentina that has progressed beyond the machismo and oppression of the “Dirty War” years. By playing up traditional aspects of her femininity, she is showing how women have to work twice as hard; she must both show that she is a capable leader but also a likeable female figure in a macho society. What is interesting, however, as that she doesn’t make specific references to either feminism or her femininity in her social media. She often posts glamorous shots of herself as part of the construction of her image, but she never directly refers to either the difficulties faced by being a female politician or to the fashionable elements of her persona. This omission can be seen as another part of her image construction. She seems to want to make her role as a powerful yet feminine leader a part of her character, without having to directly acknowledge this complex notion of femininity that is required of her by society.

Kirchner and Same-Sex Marriage

By Bryan Weiner

On July 12, 2010, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gave a passionate speech about the need to legalize same-sex marriage in Argentina. Two days later, that speech was followed by legislation making Argentina the first Latin American country that legally allowed same-sex couples to wed and adopt children. She talked about the legalization of same-sex marriage as a civil right and as something that was guaranteed in the Argentinian constitution. She compared it to a history of marriage oppression in Argentina that was tied to the Catholic Church; previously the only legal weddings in the country were those officially sanctioned by the Church. Her harshest words, however, were directed at the Church, and in particular its national leader at the time, Cardinal Jorge Birgoglio (now Pope Francis), who declared same-sex marriage to be a “war on God”. Kirchner claimed that the Church was trying to bring back the days of the Inquisition and the Crusades.

What does Kirchner’s alignment with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community tell us about her character, though? Is this a genuine concern for a marginalized community, part of her carefully constructed image as a powerful female leader, part of her stand against the rampant machismo in the Catholic society, or is it a calculated political movement?

Kirchner, as a populist, is constantly pushing for the rights of those who are facing discrimination in society. This is one of the major factors in her support of the LGBT community. It is also tied in to the rampant machismo that she has faced as the first female president of Argentina. One of the iconic images of Argentina is that of the gaucho, or cowboy. It was assumed when Kirchner took power, that she would forever be standing in the shadow of her powerful husband, the late Nestor Kirchner and former president of Argentina. From the very beginning of her presidency, however, Kirchner was very clear on the construction of her image as a powerful female leader, the mother of Argentina. Much of the machismo is tied in to the powerful Catholic Church. By supporting the LGBT community and same-sex marriage, she was challenging the homophobic, machista attitudes of Argentinian society, while at the same time challenging the masculine power structure of the Church, which was so vehemently against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

However, another key element of Kirchner’s character is that of a shrewd politician. It has been speculated that her support of the LGBT community was targeted at shoring up political support in Buenos Aires, a more affluent city that isn’t always in line with her populist economic policies, but with a socially progressive demographic that has shown strong support for the LGBT community.

Now, however, Pope Francis has changed his tone (and to a certain extent the tone of the Catholic Church) with regards to the LGBT community and same-sex marriage has been legalized throughout Latin America. While Kirchner has proven herself a strong leader, she is still fighting the ingrained machismo that exists in society. As same-sex marriage becomes a more critical issue worldwide, her evolving relationship with this community in Argentina will show a great deal about her character and whether this is a true commitment or a political move.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s Nationalism

By Bryan Weiner

Kirchner recently became a grandmother. On July 14th, 2013, Kirchner’s daughter-in-law gave birth to Néstor Iván Kirchner. On social media, she gushed about the fact that she is a proud grandmother and posted pictures of some of the gifts for the baby that she had received from other world leaders. This was a rare moment where she posted something that was related to her family. She has spoken very little about her parents and she has also kept her children under wraps. However, this moment of being a proud grandmother plays into one of the biggest images that she is trying to project of herself: the image of her as the mother (now grandmother) of Argentina. This image plays into a recurring sense of nationalism that has been a large part of her public persona.

Nationalism is of course natural and expected for a president, but what is behind Kirchner’s nationalism and what does this say about her character? Due to the dip in polls and increased problems with the economy, she has increasingly been turning to her roots and trying to evoke the sense of a revolutionary Argentina. This nationalism plays into her image construction that has become such a large part of her public persona. After leaving law school, where she joined the Peronist Youth movement, she moved to Patagonia, a region with strong sentiments about the Falkland Islands, or the Islas Malvinas.

Las Malvinas son Argentinas” – The Falkland Islands belong to Argentina. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has proclaimed these words many times during her presidency. This refers to the war that occurred in 1982 when Argentina’s military leaders of the time invaded the British-owned Falkland Islands to reclaim what Argentinians have been claiming as their sovereign territory for more than a century. While this war was lead by the military government that Kirchner was so dramatically opposed to, and the surrender 74 days later helped lead to the downfall of that corrupt and brutal regime, the issue still has been a sticking point for national pride.

Argentinian nationalism is recurring theme in many of Kirchner’s tweets and Facebook posts. Whether she is discussing the Falkland Islands, US Imperialism, or her own political party, she frequently discusses the need for national pride. Her tweets call upon Argentinian youth to step up and take back their country. In her many rants against the newspapers that she accuses of slandering her government, she refers to them as “Argentinians attacking their own countrymen” (Twitter @CFKArgentina 6 Sep. 2013). In her frequent posts about inaugurations, educational and infrastructure projects that her government has been completing, she always specifically mentions how this is building up Argentina and demonstrating pride in the nation. Much of her social media presence has served to reinforce this image of her as the mother of Argentina, chastising those who would dare slander the nation.

Last year, she made statements reopening the conflict with England and again this year she made statement at the UN Security Council asking to sit down with England and discuss the issue. Many have said that this is a “smokescreen to hide the failing economy”. The Argentinian economy is in trouble, which has led to further trouble for her political party, which is down in the polls. By focusing on this image and on a strong nationalistic, Argentinian identity, she is hoping to weather the rough periods ahead.  Reinforcing her persona of the mother of Argentina, she can use her role as a leader to attempt to guide the country in the direction that best fits her political ideology. Whether this will be successful or not is yet to be seen.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – A 21st Century Evita?

By Bryan Weiner

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the polarizing and charismatic leader of Argentina, has been a very active social media user since she opened her Twitter account in 2010. Recently, however, her activity has been very quiet, as she has been recovering from a blood clot that resulted from a mysterious fall that she took in August 2013. However, upon emerging from her mandated bed rest, she posted a picture of herself on Instagram leaning out over the railing of the Casa Rosada, addressing the masses of her admiring well-wishers. This image was very evocative of Eva Perón, one of the most important Argentinian political figures who Kirchner has frequently been compared to; and a figure who Kirchner has frequently compared herself to. The manufacturing of her image as a glamorous and romantic populist, a “defender of the people”, an Evita of the 21st century, has been a huge part of Kirchner’s persona as a president. That image, however, has taken as a serious blow, and the Kirchner who is emerging may be more of a “faded diva” rather than the revolutionary who she paints herself out to be.

Kirchner was born on February 19th 1953 in Tolosa, a suburb of La Plata in the capital territory of Buenos Aires to Eduardo Fernández and Ofelia Wilhelm. Not much is known of her childhood days and Kirchner herself, seems to have distanced herself from her family, but it is known that she was born into a very humble family. Her father was a bus driver and was often absent and her mother worked for a local union and was the matriarch of the family. But her image as a diva who has always been extremely concerned about her appearance has been something that she has constructed from her earliest years. She is quoted as saying that “yo nací maquillada” (I was born wearing makeup). The only early pictures that have been released of her have been shots demonstrating this glamorous personality. This mysterious past and attention to image and detail has shaped her present persona.

Kirchner’s known biography starts in 1970 when she began University at the University of La Plata. She began studying psychology, but switched over to law in 1973. The defining moment of this time period, however, was her participation in the Peronist Youth Movement. This was a populist political movement based on the tenets of Justicialism, a political party and ideology developed by Juan Perón and his wife Eva Perón. During her involvement in the youth movement, she met her future husband, the late Nestor Kirchner. The two of them never got deeply involved in the student movement, and after the 1976 coup d’etat, they became lawyers in the region of Rio Gallegos, a remote part of southern Patagonia. From there they began to develop their political careers together and in 2003, Nestor was elected president to save Argentina from an economic collapse through a revival of the tenets of Peronism.  After his presidency, Cristina took the reins and has continued to manufacture this image of herself as a modern-day Eva Perón, effectively trying to merge both the glamour and the politics of the Argentinian icon into her persona. She is, however, on shaky ground and while she is still recovering her health, her party needs to recover much of its early momentum.