Cristina Fernández de Kirchner may be giving up the power she has held as Argentinean president over the past eight years, but she still wields enough influence to bring together masses of supporters.
At a farewell rally on Wednesday night, thousands assembled in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace to hear their leader say her goodbyes. Many compared the gathering to the huge crowds that Eva Perón used to drum up with her speeches.
To violate the Constitution and put a president in power by decree is far from a trivial matter” Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
The judge was acting on a legal petition filed by incoming President Mauricio Macri who had called on judicial authorities to resolve a dispute between him and Fernández de Kirchner over the logistics of Thursday’s inauguration ceremony.
The tense situation between the pair over the past few days came to a head on Tuesday when Fernández de Kirchner’s transition team announced that she would not be attending the ceremony and would not be on hand to present Macri with the presidential sash and baton.
Her followers flocked to the Plaza de Mayo to show their solidarity with the outgoing president, who was moved to tears by the support. Each time she spoke, the crowd in the square went wild.
“Don’t let me speak too long because at midnight they are turning me into a pumpkin,” joked Fernández de Kirchner, in reference to Judge Servini de Cubría’s order.
In response, the people began chanting: “Macri chicken, you’re a chicken, Macri you’re a chicken.”
The outgoing president, who served two terms, explained to her supporters that if she didn’t show up at Thursday’s inauguration it was because of Macri, who insisted on not having the ceremony in Congress and rushed to get a court order.
Fernández de Kirchner said that the judiciary appeared to be acting as a separate political party.
“All of us Argentineans are living a bit under conditional liberty right now,” she said. “To violate the Constitution and put a president in power by decree is far from a trivial matter.”
In her ruling, the judge said that acting Senate speaker Federico Pinedo would serve as provisional president for 12 hours until Marci can be sworn in at noon.
“I have seen many precautionary measures being taken, but I never thought I would see the day when a precautionary president would serve for 12 hours,” Fernández de Kirchner said.
“From now on, we’ll have to put the candidates for president and for provisional president on ballot papers,” she joked.
Macri had asked the courts to declare him president on-duty for 12 hours after midnight, which would allow him to organize his own inauguration. He has insisted on holding the ceremony in the Casa Rosada, where presidential inaugurations have traditionally taken place since democracy returned to Argentina in the 1980s.
Without mentioning him by name, Fernández de Kirchner challenged Macri to fill the Plaza de Mayo with as many supporters as she had managed when his term ends in four years.
She also warned that Macri was planning to give in to the US investors who have been waging a legal battle against Fernández de Kirchner for payments due on their so-called “vulture funds.” At the same time, she asked her successor to respect all demonstrations against his government that may occur in the future.
“I hope to see an Argentina without censorship, without repression. I hope to see a free Argentina,” she said before boarding a helicopter that circled several times above the crowd before flying off.
English version by Martin Delfín.