When Argentine President Cristina Fernandez recalled her late husband and predecessor on Sunday after winning re-election, thousands of supporters roared: “Nestor’s not dead. He lives among the people!”
A year after former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner’s death, supporters have kept his memory alive by building a cult of personality around him.
Fernandez still wears black in mourning and she often tears up when she mentions him in public speeches. Kirchner’s name has been bestowed upon airports, hospitals, a soccer tournament and even a dairy research center.
In the Patagonian town of Rio Gallegos, a three-story mausoleum — which local media say outmatches the memorials of Winston Churchill or Mahatma Gandhi — was unveiled on Thursday to pay tribute to a leader who some say is becoming a legend.
“Today you see Nestor’s image more than Peron’s at political marches, it’s everywhere,” said Micieli, referring to former Argentine president General Juan Domingo Peron, whose party still dominates politics in the country nearly 40 years after his death.
Stencil designs depicting Kirchner have sprung up across the capital and he has been given a make-over as the “Nestornauta,” a play on the cult comic book hero El Eternauta, who travels eternally through time.
Young economists played on his initials, creating the “GraN MaKro” group to spread word of his economic model. La Campora, a youth movement founded by his son, has revived political activism that was dormant for many years.
Kirchner’s image, locked in an embrace with Fernandez, also featured heavily during her re-election campaign. Sympathy over her widowhood helped her win 54 percent of votes last weekend.
Kirchner was elected president as a virtual unknown in 2003 and the center-leftist became known for his irreverent style. Critics reviled his interventionist policies as well as his public tirades against some business leaders and journalists.
However, when he died of a heart attack last year at the age of 60, many Argentines remembered him as the man who rebuilt Latin America’s third-largest economy after a deep 2001-2002 crisis.
They also praised him for his efforts to bring military leaders to trial for human rights crimes committed during the country’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.
“His memory deserved a work of art that is in keeping with his magnitude and his legacy,” Anibal Billoni, a provincial lawmaker in Santa Cruz and old friend of Kirchner’s, said in reference to the mausoleum while standing along “Nestor Kirchner” street in Rio Gallegos.
Marcos Novaro, director of the CIPOL center for political studies, says the government exploits Kirchner’s image.
“There’s a Peron cult. Is it the same when a street is named after Nestor Kirchner? I don’t think so,” Novaro said. “It’s part of a party strategy to maintain unity.”
Argentina is known for its cult of personality, most famously centered on Peron and his wife, Evita.
Evita was such a powerful symbol that in the 1950s the military whisked her embalmed body to Italy, where she was buried secretly, only to return to Argentina two decades later.
When Peron died some years later, the government ordered the construction of a mausoleum to preserve both of their bodies as well as those of almost every leader going back to independence hero Jose de San Martin.
The plan never came through and Peron’s corpse has been disinterred and mutilated by thieves who sawed off his hands.
“When Peron died they wanted to build ‘the altar of the nation’ and Evita’s body roamed for two decades, so in perspective, Kirchner’s three-story mausoleum is quite modest,” said Maria Victoria Murillo, a professor of political science at Columbia University.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown