Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is still to announce that she will be standing again in the national elections on October 23rd but behind the scenes her election campaign is gathering momentum. Following the death of her husband Néstor Kirchner, it has been widely expected that she will run for a second term in office but she is still to make her intentions known in public.
In the last few weeks, her campaign has intensified with Kirchnerist supporters and militants posting thousands of posters and stencils around Buenos Aires backing her re-election. This is significant as the capital has not a happy hunting ground for the Kirchners and also traditionally for Peronist leaders, so Cristina is eager to win more voters here.
Among the latest pro-CFK stencils is a 2011 logo that features the face of Néstor with his lazy eye.
Other stencils include slogans such as “Con Cristina a la Victoria” (“With Cristina to victory”), “Cristina te bancamos” (“Cristina we support you”), “Cristina a full” (“Hooked on Cristina”) and “Cristina o nada” (“Cristina or nothing”).
|The Passion of the Cristina|
|New stencils featuring Néstor|
Last night along Avenida Cabildo, we ran into a giant inflatable penguin – the symbol of Néstor, nicknamed ‘El Pinguino’ because of his Patagonian roots. The big bird was the focal point of a rally in support of Cristina and the Peronist candidate for Pilar, Humberto Zúccaro. But why are all these images and reminders of Néstor suddenly appearing all over BA? Election time is around the corner of course. There was a lot of sympathy for Cristina after the death of her husband and there still is with the tragedy coming as a shock to the whole nation. Some five months have now passed. CFK supporters will point out that they are merely trying to keep the memory of Néstor alive with these new images of him appearing all over the capital but it appears political groups are resorting to whatever measure to try and win new voters, and that includes wheeling out tacky blow-up animals depicting an ex-president.
We spoke to one supporter who had come all the way from the Province of Buenos Aires for the rally. He was accompanied by around 40 youngsters who were shouting and waving flags reading “Cristina, Zuccaro 2011”. He told us what all the hulabaloo was about. “The penguin is to honour Néstor and we’re here to support Cristina. Néstor did a lot of good things for the country but Cristina is better, she’s more radical.”
We asked him why the event being held in the affluent barrio of Belgrano. He shrugged his shoulders. We then asked if any of the young men attending the event were paid to come along. He gave us a wry smile. Nearby was a burly security guard in a suit chatting away on a his walkie talkie checking the whole operation was was running smoothly. Welcome to rent-a-mob politics, Argentine-style.
Most of the graffiti depicting Cristina around the city centre is nothing more than propaganda in favour of the populist head of state but not all of it. One slogan near the Casa Rosada once read “Fuerza Cristina” (“Be strong Cristina”) but it has had the “Z” scrubbed out to read “Fuera Cristina” (“Cristina Out”).
Cristina’s mental health has been the subject of much gossip in the opposition media in recent times. The magazine Noticias revealed in November that she was having treatment for a bi-polar disorder – an illness that combines peaks of euphoria with troughs of depression, while Wikileaks showed that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had questioned Cristina’s “mental state” and that she was suffering from “nerves and anxiety“.
|No soy demagoga, tengo doble personalidad|
The above stencil above reads: “I’m not demagogue (a leader who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people), I have a double personality (referring to her alleged bi-polar disorder).”
|Bolche and Gabbana|
Cristina is well known for her obsession with photo opportunities, and her penchant for mascara, expensive suits and handbags. This ironic stencil from a few years back mocks her ‘Bolshevik’ or ‘communist’ policies and her liking for designer labels such as Dolche and Gabbana.
This iconic stencil, adapted from the Hello Kitty character, dates from the time Néstor was in power and can easy be applied to his widow who will extend the K’s reign beyond a decade if she wins again. The image can be found all over Palermo.