ARGENTINA: Argentina’s vice-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was met with a dangerous incident outside of her home late on Thursday when she narrowly escaped an “assassination attempt” after the gunman’s weapon jammed as he aimed at her.
Ms de Kirchner was targeted by the assailant outside of her home while she stepped out to greet her supporters. One came out of the crowd and suddenly confronted her with a handgun lodged directly in her face.
Argentina’s Vice President embroiled in a corruption scandal
President Alberto Fernandez said that the gunman was armed with five bullets but failed to fire when triggered.
The vice-president has been embroiled in a serious corruption scandal lately and is in the midst of a legal trial. She was returning from court. She denied the charges against her.
Argentina’s police notified that the gunman involved in the “assassination attempt”, has been identified by the local media as a 35-year-old Brazilian man, and has been taken into police custody. The police are yet to discover and disclose the motive behind the attack.
After the attack, Argentina’s president addressed the nation late on Thursday night and said, “Cristina remains alive because for a reason not yet technically confirmed, the gun, which contained five bullets, did not fire.”
He expressed his contempt for the attack and condemned the assailant’s efforts, describing the attempt on Ms de Kirchner’s life as one of the “most serious” incidents since the country returned to democracy in 1983.
Highlighting the negative and despicable aftermath of hate speech and the violence that it brews, he said, “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.”
The president issued an official notice for a national holiday on Friday to allow Argentinians to recuperate from the horrific attack on a civil servant and “express themselves in defence of life, democracy and in solidarity with our vice president”.
Recent footage of the attack has surfaced on social media where Ms de Kirchner is seen stepping out of her car to greet the crowd when a strange man emerges on the front lines with a gun pointed directly at her face. She then lowered her head but no shots were fired.
In another video doing the rounds on social media, Ms de Kirchner is seen being shielded from the gunman by people in the crowd.
Argentina’s economy minister, Sergio Massa, called the attempted shooting an “attempted assassination”.
Echoing the sentiments of the president, Massa wrote in a tweet, “When hate and violence prevail over debate, societies are destroyed and situations like these arise: attempted assassination.”
A police officer confirmed that an assault weapon was recovered just inches away from the assassination site.
In recent days, hundreds of supporters have gathered outside the 69-year-old’s house in the capital while the trial is still underway.
Ms de Kirchner is accused of defrauding the state, by awarding public works contracts in her stronghold in Patagonia while she was president between 2007 and 2015.
If she pleads guilty, prosecutors have ensured that she serves a 12-year sentence, with a permanent ban from politics.
However, Ms de Kirchner is the Senate president and so enjoys parliamentary immunity. She would not be imprisoned unless her sentence was ratified by Argentina’s Supreme Court, or she loses her Senate seat at the next elections at the end of 2023.
The verdict of the trial, with a huge number of charges laid against her, will take a few months.