here is such political exploitation of any event that it is not surprising the scepticism with which at least part of polarised Argentina has greeted the failed attempt to assassinate the current vice-president, Cristina Fernández. While all should deplore the fact that there are such allegedly mindless individuals capable of taking up arms to settle political differences, and congratulate themselves that the gun jammed and the assassination was thwarted, it is disheartening to see the deep division in the country that this episode has brought to the fore, even more so.
While the full truth of the events is being elucidated, the only thing that seems incontrovertible is that the great “beneficiary” of these events is Cristina herself, as she is familiarly called by her many supporters and even by a large part of the common people. That she is a great political animal is indisputable. That her entire performance since she herself became vice-president, placing Alberto Fernández above her institutionally, has been a continuous disavowal of justice in order to get out of jail, is also beyond doubt. That a thwarted attempt on her life could reinstate her in her ascent to the heavens of power could not be ruled out either. And that, in such a hypothesis, Peronism and the thugs of La Cámpora would have their hands even freer to act forcefully against the opposition seems only to be confirmed.
Many of the gestures prior to the one with the pistol in the barrel and the casing of the gun are very eloquent: the prosecutor’s request for twelve years in prison for Cristina for corruption; the visit by the co-founder and still shadow leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, to express his firm support for her; President Fernández’s allusion that the prosecutor could “commit suicide”, as happened to prosecutor Nisman just three days after accusing Cristina of collusion in the bombing of the Israeli Amia Mutual, the most serious attack suffered by the country; and finally, the permanent and threatening demonstration by Peronist supporters outside Cristina’s home in the luxurious Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, all seem to be part of a crescendo that would have a culmination. This thwarted assassination was the missing cherry on the cake, which, as the Italians say, “si non e vero e ben trovato”, both to anathematise the prosecutor Lucini and to prepare Cristina’s return to the Casa Rosada free of all guilt, and even elevated to the secular altars of Peronism.
Spain in the background, increasingly absent and less influential
In the wake of these events, whose main victim will once again be Argentina, animosity towards Spain continues to grow, the perfect excuse and culprit for populism to find a handhold to cling to in order to mask the failures it is stringing together in all the countries in which it is installed. A paradigm to which the podemite faction of the Spanish government is no stranger either, whose political discourse unambiguously sympathises with the region’s revolutionary movements while constantly pointing the finger at Spain in its role as predatory conqueror.
The extreme left-wing populisms installed in the Americas thus feed their discourse of hatred, which undermines or nullifies attempts to strengthen the ties that have always united the two continents, even in times of greatest crisis. It is no secret that Spain has been losing weight and influence in the region, although it has rarely been so absent from Latin American public life and less influential than now.
It is a fact that the traditional role of Spanish liberals and social democrats in Latin America has declined unstoppably over the last two decades. Although it could be said that this is not because they have lost the battle of ideas, but because they have left the way open to the more extremist movements.
It is also the intention of Spain’s forthcoming rotating presidency of the European Union to place special emphasis on EU-Latin America relations by strengthening Spain’s diminished role as a bridge. To succeed, this task should involve Spanish society as a whole, with moderate political forces and less extremist intellectual currents helping their counterparts across the ocean to counter the supposedly unstoppable rise of populism. The utmost and scrupulous respect for national sovereignty is not incompatible with helping to ensure that, for the sake of mutual development, injustice and misrule are not supported.
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