Néstor Carlos Kirchner (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈnestoɾ
ˈkaɾlos ˈkiɾʃneɾ]; 25 February 1950 – 27 October 2010)
Argentine politician who served as
President of Argentina
President of Argentina from
2003 to 2007 and as Governor of Santa Cruz from 1991 to 2003.
Ideologically a Peronist and social democrat, he served as President
Justicialist Party from 2008 to 2010, with his political
approach being characterised as Kirchnerism.
Born in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz, Kirchner studied law at the
National University of La Plata. He met and married Cristina
Fernández at this time, returned with her to Río Gallegos at
graduation, and opened a law firm. Commentators have criticized him
for a lack of legal activism during the Dirty War, an issue he would
involve himself in as president. Kirchner ran for mayor of Río
Gallegos in 1987 and for governor of Santa Cruz in 1991. He was
reelected governor in 1995 and 1999 due to an amendment of the
provincial constitution. Kirchner sided with
Buenos Aires provincial
Eduardo Duhalde against President Carlos Menem. Although
Duhalde lost the 1999 presidential election, he was appointed
president by the Congress when previous presidents Fernando de la Rúa
Adolfo Rodríguez Saá
Adolfo Rodríguez Saá resigned during the December 2001 riots.
Duhalde suggested that Kirchner run for president in 2003 in a bid to
prevent Menem's return to the presidency. Menem won a plurality in the
first round of the presidential election but, fearing that he would
lose in the required runoff election, he resigned; Kirchner became
president as a result.
Kirchner took office on 25 May 2003. Roberto Lavagna, credited with
the economic recovery during Duhalde's presidency, was retained as
minister of economy and continued his economic policies. Argentina
negotiated a swap of defaulted debt and repaid the International
Monetary Fund. The National Institute of Statistics and Census
intervened to underestimate growing inflation. Several Supreme Court
judges resigned while fearing impeachment, and new justices were
appointed. The amnesty for crimes committed during the
Dirty War in
enforcing the full-stop and due-obedience laws and the presidential
pardons were repealed and declared unconstitutional. This led to new
trials for the military who served during the 1970s. Argentina
increased its integration with other Latin American countries,
discontinuing its automatic alignment with the United States dating to
the 1990s. The 2005 midterm elections were a victory for Kirchner, and
signaled the end of Duhalde's supremacy in
Buenos Aires Province.
Instead of seeking reelection, Kirchner stepped aside in 2007 in
support of his wife, Cristina Fernández, who was elected president.
He participated in the unsuccessful
Operation Emmanuel to release FARC
hostages, and was narrowly defeated in the 2009 midterm election for
Buenos Aires Province. Kirchner was appointed Secretary
General of UNASUR in 2010. He and his wife were involved (either
directly or through their close aides) in the 2013 political scandal
known as the Route of the K-Money. Kirchner died of cardiac arrest on
27 October 2010, and received a state funeral.
1 Early life
2 Governor of Santa Cruz
3 2003 presidential election
4.1 First days
4.2 Relations with the judiciary
4.3 Economic policy
4.4 Foreign policy
4.5 2005 midterm elections
4.6 Human rights policy
5 After the presidency
6 Style and ideology
7 Allegations of embezzlement
11 External links
Main article: Early life of Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was born on 25 February 1950, in Río
Gallegos, Santa Cruz, a federal territory at the time. His father,
Néstor Carlos Kirchner Sr., met the Chilean María Juana Ostoić by
telegraphy. They had three children: Néstor, Alicia, and María
Cristina. Néstor was part of the third generation of Kirchners living
in the city. As a result of pertussis, he developed strabismus at an
early age; however, he refused medical treatment because he considered
his eye part of his self-image. When Kirchner was in high school he
briefly considered becoming a teacher, but poor diction hampered
him; he was also unsuccessful at basketball.
Kirchner (second-from-right) during a political rally, after the
National Reorganization Process
National Reorganization Process allowed political activity.
Kirchner moved to
La Plata in 1969 to study law at the National
University. During this period, the decline of the Argentine
Revolution, the return of former president
Juan Perón from exile, the
Héctor Cámpora as president, his resignation and the
election of Perón, and the beginning of the
Dirty War had led to
severe political turmoil. Kirchner joined the University Federation
for the National Revolution (FURN), a political student group whose
relationship with the
Montoneros guerrillas is a matter of debate.
Kirchner was not a leader of the group. He was present at the
Ezeiza massacre, in which right-wing Peronist snipers opened fire on a
celebration of Juan Perón's return at the Ezeiza International
Airport. He was also present at the expulsion of
Plaza de Mayo. Although Kirchner met many members of the
Montoneros, he was not a member of the group. By the time the
Montoneros were outlawed by Perón, he had left FURN.
In 1974 Kirchner met Cristina Fernández, three years his junior, and
they quickly fell in love. They were married after a courtship
limited to six months by the political turmoil in the country. At the
civil ceremony, Kirchner's friends sang the Peronist song "Los
Muchachos Peronistas". He graduated a year later, returned to
Patagonia with Cristina, and established a law firm with fellow
attorney Domingo Ortiz de Zarate. Cristina joined the firm in
1979. By the time of Kirchner's graduation and move to the
Juan Perón had died, his vice president and wife Isabel
Martínez de Perón had become president. Isabel Perón had been
unseated by a coup d'état which installed a military government. The
Kirchners worked for banks and financial groups which filed
foreclosures, since the Central Bank's 1050 ruling had raised mortgage
loan interest rates., and also acquired 21 real-estate lots for a
low price when they were about to be auctioned. Their law firm
defended military personnel accused of committing crimes during said
war. Forced disappearances were common during the Dirty War, but
unlike other lawyers of the time the Kirchners never signed a habeas
corpus. Julio César Strassera, prosecutor in the 1985 Trial of
the Juntas case against the military, criticized the Kirchners' lack
of legal actions against the military, and considered their later
interest in the issue a form of hypocrisy.
Dirty War eventually ended, and the National Reorganization
Process allowed political activity in preparation for a return to
democracy. Kirchner led one of the three internal factions of the
Justicialist Party (PJ), but Peronist
Arturo Puricelli prevailed
in the primary elections. Kirchner founded the Ateneo Juan Domingo
Perón organization, which supported deposed president Isabel Perón
and promoted political dialogue with the military. Cristina
Fernández became an attorney of the PJ in Santa Cruz, with the help
of Rafael Flores, a former friend from the FURN. Raúl Alfonsín, who
was running for president for the
Radical Civic Union
Radical Civic Union (UCR), denounced
an agreement between the military and the Peronist unions which sought
an amnesty for the military. Kirchner organized a rally on behalf of
Rodolfo Ponce, a union leader mentioned by Alfonsín in his
denouncement. Alfonsín won the 1983 presidential election, and
Puricelli was elected governor of Santa Cruz. Puricelli sought to
unify the local Peronist movement by adding members of the other
factions into his government, and appointed Kirchner president of the
provincial social-welfare fund.
Kirchner quickly expanded the activities and scope of his office,
building a parallel state. This soon started a conflict with
Puricelli. Instead of being fired, Kirchner resigned and accused the
governor of reducing the funds for social-welfare. He ran for
mayor of Río Gallegos in 1987, and won by the slim margin of 110
votes. Kirchner's friend, Rudy Ulloa Igor, helped him to victory by
registering some groups of Chilean immigrants to vote (immigrants were
allowed to vote in mayoral elections), and persuading them to vote for
Julio de Vido
Julio de Vido and
Carlos Zannini began working with
Kirchner at this time. Kirchner used the state-owned media to promote
his activities. The Peronist
Ricardo del Val was elected governor that
year, and the province was impacted by inflation in 1989. Kirchner
became the main opponent of del Val, who was impeached and removed
from office in 1990 due to the inflation crisis.
Governor of Santa Cruz
Néstor Kirchner in 1992
Kirchner ran for governor of Santa Cruz in 1991. Although he received
only 30 percent of the vote, below the 36 percent of the UCR, he was
elected due to the
Ley de Lemas that added the votes for the Peronist
faction of Puricelli to his own. When Kirchner took office,
Santa Cruz was experiencing an economic crisis, with high unemployment
and a budget deficit equal to 1.2 billion pesos, which amounted to
an equal number of U.S. dollars because of the Convertibility plan. He
expanded the number of provincial Supreme Court justices from three
members to five and appointed three judges loyal to him; this gave him
control of the provincial judiciary. Kirchner was criticized
for preventing the investigation of corruption cases. Santa Cruz
received 535 million pesos in oil royalties in 1993, which Kirchner
deposited in a foreign bank. He was elected to the Constituent
Assembly which drafted the 1994 amendment of the Argentine
Constitution proposed by the Peronist president Carlos Menem. Kirchner
voted against the amendment that would allow the reelection of the
president, which was approved. Locally, he proposed an amendment to
the provincial constitution authorizing indefinite reelection of the
governor. Menem and Kirchner were reelected to their respective
offices in 1995. Kirchner established a faction in the PJ opposing
Menem's neoliberal economic policies, but Eduardo Duhalde, governor of
Buenos Aires province, ignored him and rallied a stronger
opposition to Menem within the PJ.
The number of state workers grew from 12,000 to 70,000 during
Kirchner's administration. The creation of private-sector jobs in the
province was minimal, and private companies were driven away. A local
journalist interviewed by journalist
Jorge Lanata said that this
placed de facto restrictions on economic freedom and allowed Kirchner
to control the population. Most available jobs were in public
With Menem constitutionally restricted from running for a third
presidential term, Duhalde ran for president in 1999. Kirchner sided
with Duhalde in his dispute with Menem, and sought reelection as
governor of Santa Cruz. The PJ was defeated on the national level by
the radical Fernando de la Rúa, who became president. Kirchner was
reelected, despite the growth of the UCR in the province.
Following an economic crisis, De la Rúa resigned two years later
during the December 2001 riots. The Congress appointed Adolfo
Rodríguez Saá, governor of San Luis, as interim president. When
Rodríguez Saá also resigned, Duhalde was appointed president. He was
the politician with the highest legitimacy to be appointed president,
as he had placed second in the 1999 elections and won the 2001
legislative elections in the
Buenos Aires province, the district of
Argentina with the largest population. He slowly restored the
economy, and hastened the presidential election when two piqueteros
were killed during a demonstration. However, the provincial
elections were held on their original dates.
2003 presidential election
Argentine general election, 2003
Presidential ballot of the
Néstor Kirchner –
Daniel Scioli ticket.
Carlos Menem ran for a new term as president in 2003, and Eduardo
Duhalde tried to prevent it. Instead of holding primary elections
within the PJ, the 2003 elections used a variant of the Ley de
Lemas. All the Peronist candidates were allowed to run in the
general election, using their own tickets. Although Kirchner ran for
president with Duhalde's support, he was not the president's first
choice. Trying to prevent a third term for Menem, Duhalde approached
Santa Fe governor
Carlos Reutemann and Córdoba governor José Manuel
de la Sota; Reutemann declined, and De la Sota did not run because he
was insufficiently popular. Duhalde also unsuccessfully approached
Mauricio Macri, Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, Felipe Solá, and Roberto
Lavagna, all of whom refused to run. Duhalde initially resisted
supporting Kirchner, fearing that Kirchner would ignore him if
elected. Kirchner run on the
Front for Victory
Front for Victory ticket, one of the
several fronts put up by the PJ. Since Kirchner was identified with
the centre-left, Duhalde appointed the centre-right
Daniel Scioli as
his vice-presidential candidate. Only a handful of Peronist
governors supported either candidate; most remained neutral, awaiting
the election to forge a relationship with the victor.
The general election was held on 27 April. Menem won the first round
with 24.5 percent of the vote, followed by Kirchner with 22.2 percent.
Ricardo López Murphy
Ricardo López Murphy finished third, substantially
behind the two main candidates. Since Menem was well short of the
threshold required to win, a runoff election was scheduled for 18 May.
He had a negative public image, and polls showed Kirchner receiving 60
to 70 percent of the vote. To avoid a humiliating defeat, Menem pulled
out of the runoff in a move criticized by the other
candidates. The judiciary declined requests for a new election
and refused to sanction a runoff election between Kirchner and López
Murphy, although López Murphy said he would not participate. The
election was validated by the Congress, and Kirchner became president
on 25 May 2003. Kirchner's 22.2 percent is the lowest vote percentage
ever recorded for an
Argentine president in a free election.
Local elections were held in October. The mayor of Buenos Aires,
Aníbal Ibarra, was reelected in a runoff against Mauricio Macri.
Neither were Peronists, but Ibarra supported Kirchner and Macri was
supported by Duhalde. Duhalde remained an influential figure in the
Buenos Aires province; his ally
Felipe Solá was elected governor by a
landslide, and the PJ received its highest number of deputies since
1983 and won mayoral elections in several cities lost to the UCR in
1999. The three leading candidates in the
Buenos Aires province were
all Peronists. Victories in the other provinces gave the PJ control of
the Congress, and three-quarters of Argentina's governors were
Peronists. According to journalist Mariano Grondona, Argentine
politics had become a dominant-party system.
Main article: Presidency of Néstor Kirchner
Kirchner takes office as President of Argentina.
Kirchner took office as president of
Argentina on 25 May 2003.
Contrary to tradition, the ceremony was held at the Palace of the
Argentine National Congress rather than Casa Rosada. He announced that
he would spearhead change on many issues, from politics to culture.
The ceremony was attended by the provincial governors, Supreme Court
president Julio Nazareno, the heads of the armed forces, and Cuban
leader Fidel Castro.
Raúl Alfonsín was the only former president in
attendance. Kirchner walked to the
Casa Rosada along Avenida de Mayo,
breaking with protocol to get close to the people, and was
accidentally hit in the head with a camera.
As he was elected with a small percentage of the vote, Kirchner sought
to increase his political clout and public image. He sought
political allies in all political parties, not just the PJ. The
Radicales K supported him from within the UCR. This practice of
reaching out to multiple parties became known as "Transversalism".
Striking an "anti-establishment image", Kirchner set about
creating "a sense of political renewal" in Argentina, despite the fact
that many of his government associates came from the traditional
political class. He retained four members of Duhalde's cabinet.
Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna, credited with the economic recovery,
was kept to ensure that Kirchner maintained the economic policies laid
down during the previous administration. Ginés González García
stayed as Minister of Health.
Anibal Fernandez was moved to the
Ministry of the Interior and
José Pampuro to the Defense
Ministry. Kirchner brought in four members of his cabinet from his
days as governor of Santa Cruz. Alberto Fernández, who organized his
political campaign, was appointed chief of the cabinet of ministers.
Sergio Acevedo was placed in charge of intelligence.
Julio de Vido
Julio de Vido was
appointed Minister of Federal Planning, an office similar to his
provincial one. Since the appointment of relatives was not unusual in
Argentina, Kirchner's appointment of his sister Alicia as Minister of
Social Development was uncontroversial. Chancellor Rafael Bielsa
was from another political party, FREPASO.
Relations with the judiciary
Argentine judiciary had been unpopular since the presidency of
Carlos Menem, most of whose judicial appointments were based on
loyalty; his judiciary was known as the "automatic majority".
Kirchner sought to remove the most controversial judges and organized
the impeachment of Supreme Court president Julio Nazareno, who chose
to resign. Judge Adolfo Vázquez also resigned before impeachment,
citing personal reasons. Judges Eduardo Moline O'Connor and
Guillermo López also resigned under similar circumstances.
The vacancies were well received by the public, boosting Kirchner's
He arranged a new system to appoint judges. Instead of simply
proposing a new judge candidate to the Congress, the presidency first
released names of a number of potential candidates, who were then
evaluated by several non-governmental organizations, who assessed if
the candidate was suitable as a judge. The ministry of justice
compiled all the support and criticism, and the president then decided
which candidate would be proposed to the Congress, which made the
final decision, as under the previous system. Raúl Zaffaroni, a
former FREPASO politician, was the first judicial appointment under
the new system. He was followed by Elena Highton de Nolasco, the
first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. The appointment of
Carmen Argibay (another female judge) was controversial, since Argibay
was an atheist and a supporter of legal abortion. The judges held
liberal views on criminal justice, countering social demands for
harsher, pro-victim policies after the murder of Axel Blumberg.
However, the new Supreme Court had little political power, as the
national government ignored all rulings that were not favorable.
Kirchner and Roberto Lavagna, Minister of Economy during most of his
The pillars of the economic plan were trade and fiscal budget
surpluses and a high exchange rate for the United States dollar. The
surplus was increased by taxes levied during de la Rúa's presidency
and the devaluation which occurred during the Duhalde
administration. Kirchner sought to rebuild the Argentine
industrial base, public works and public services, renegotiating the
operation of public services privatized by
Carlos Menem and owned by
foreign companies. His policies were accompanied by a nationalist
rhetoric sympathetic to the poor. However, despite of the
financial prosperity, there was no significant decrease in the number
of people living in poverty, which was 8 to 10 million people, or
almost 25% of the country.
Kirchner and Lavagna negotiated a swap of defaulted national debt in
2005, a write-down to one-third of the original debt. Kirchner
refused a structural adjustment program, and instead made a single
payment to the IMF with Central Bank reserves. Although the
economy grew at an eight-percent annual rate during Kirchner's term,
much of its growth was due to favorable international conditions
Argentina was benefited by the
increase of the international price of soybean and other foods. .
However, some argued that this economic growth can also be attributed
to Kirchners policies to increase domestic demand.  Foreign
investment remained low because of the
Argentine hostility towards the
IMF, the U.S. and the United Kingdom, the re-nationalization of
privatized companies (such as the water supply, managed by the French
company Suez), diplomatic isolation and state interventionism. The
energy sector suffered, and lack of investment reduced energy reserves
during the 2000s.
Lavagna proposed to slow economic growth and control inflation.
Kirchner rejected this, promoting wage increases to reduce economic
inequality and extending unemployment insurance and other types of
social welfare. Public services such as public transportation,
electricity, gas and water supply were subsidized and kept at low
prices. Food industries were subsidied as well. The subsidies
eventually expanded to several uncommon areas. This increased the
economic activity, but also increased inflation and reduced the
private investment in those areas. Unable to control inflation,
the government influenced the National Institute of Statistics and
Census of Argentina, which under-reported it, as well as poverty
(which was calculated with the inflation figures). The superpowers
law, sanctioned during the crisis, was prorrogated and eventually made
permanent in 2006; this law allowed the president to rearrange the
budget with supervision from the Congress. Kirchner sought to win
Argentine Workers' Central Union and leaders of more moderate
piquetero factions to reduce the chances of strikes and
protests. He nevertheless continued to oppose hard-line
elements of the piquetero movement, such as that of Raúl
Castells. Kirchner's policy helped to fragment the piqueteros,
with some declaring their allegiance to him and others continuing to
oppose him. Their usual system of protest (blocking streets) made
them highly unpopular. However, Kirchner refused to suppress the
piquetero demonstrations to avoid the risk of further violence.
Lavagna refused to run for senator in the 2005 midterm elections, and
criticized the overpricing of public works managed by Minister of
Federal Planning Julio de Vido. As a result, Kirchner asked Lavagna to
resign. Finance secretary Guillermo Nielsen, who managed the debt
restructuring, also resigned. Felisa Miceli, head of Banco de la
Nación Argentina, replaced Lavagna as Minister of Economy. Miceli
resigned in 2007, months before the presidential elections, because of
a scandal over a bag with a large amount of money which was found in
her office bathroom. She was replaced by Secretary of Industry Miguel
Kirchner and Presidents
Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva of Brazil at a 2006 summit in Brasília
Kirchner took a pragmatic approach to
Argentine foreign policy,
Argentina–United States relations
Argentina–United States relations did not continue the special
relations of the 1990s. Chancellor
Rafael Bielsa called the
relationship between the countries "cooperation without cohabitation"
in contrast to that of the Menem era, which was known as "carnal
relations". Kirchner opposed the proposed Free Trade Area of the
Americas, as it was based on majority rule among all the countries of
the Americas, whereas he preferred a proportional representation
system that would have given the
Mercosur bloc more influence. The
4th Summit of the Americas, hosted in Mar del Plata, ended with
violent protests against U.S. President George W. Bush; negotiations
stalled, and the FTAA was not implemented. Kirchner told the
United Nations that, although he opposed terrorism, he did not support
the War on Terror. He refused to receive U.S. Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld, and sent forces to the
United Nations Stabilisation
Mission in Haiti.
Kirchner sought increased integration with other Latin American
countries. He revived and tried to strengthen the
Mercosur trade bloc
and improved relations with Brazil, but without automatically
aligning with that country, the regional power of South America.
The president tried to keep a middle ground between Brazil and
Venezuela, since he considered the Brazilian Luiz Inácio Lula da
Silva too conservative, and the Venezuelan
Hugo Chávez too
anti-American. Kirchner worked with centre-left presidents Lula and
Ricardo Lagos and the left-wing rulers Chávez, Fidel Castro
from Cuba and
Evo Morales from Bolivia. He established a political
alliance with Chávez's government, and by 2008, Argentinian
exports to Venezuela were quadruple what they were in 2002. A
bilateral military commission was established with Venezuela, through
which some technological exchange took place.
2005 midterm elections
Néstor Kirchner meets Hilda González de Duhalde.
Kirchner soon distanced himself from Duhalde, removing those close to
the former president from the government to reduce his political
influence. He also sought supporters across the social and political
spectrum to counter Duhalde's influence in the party. Although Duhalde
was not initially against Kirchner, Kirchner tried to prevent the
presence of alternative leaderships within the PJ. However, they
put their differences behind them during the October 2003 legislative
elections. Their dispute was fanned by the political weight of
Buenos Aires province (the most populous in Argentina, with almost 40
percent of the national vote), and continued through the 2005
midterm elections. Without consensus in the PJ for a candidate for
senator in the
Buenos Aires province, both leaders had their wives run
Hilda González de Duhalde
Hilda González de Duhalde for the PJ and Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner for the Front for Victory, which contested the
election as a different party. Cristina Kirchner won the
election. As in 2003, the elections were defined by Peronist
factions; the opposition parties could not put up a united national
front. The victory gave Kirchner the confidence to remove Lavagna,
Rafael Bielsa, Jose Pampuro, and
Alicia Kirchner from his cabinet and
replace them with ministers who, though less well-known, had
perspectives closer to his own.
Human rights policy
Kirchner oversees the removal of military portraits from the National
Reorganization Process at the National Military College.
Dirty War ended in the eighties, Kirchner considered it
an unresolved issue. In his inaugural speech, he supported human
rights organizations which sought the incarceration of the military
connected with the National Reorganization Process. He also
ordered the top military leadership to retire. Kirchner sent a
bill to the Congress to annul the full stop law and the Law of Due
Obedience, which had halted trials of the military for crimes related
to the Dirty War. The laws had been repealed in 1998, but that repeal
had little legal significance, as only an annulment would reopen the
cases. Although this initiative was opposed by Duhalde and Scioli,
most legislators considered it a symbolic gesture since the laws'
constitutionality would be decided by the Supreme Court. Both laws
were annulled by the Congress in August 2003, and many cases were
reopened as a result. The Supreme Court declared the laws, and Menem's
presidential pardons, unconstitutional in 2005. Jorge Julio
López, witness in a trial of police officer Miguel Etchecolatz,
disappeared in 2006. This caused a national scandal, as it was
suspected that he was disappeared to intimidate other witnesses in the
upcoming trials, and the government was unable to locate him.
Kirchner also changed the extradition policy, allowing extradition for
people prosecuted abroad and not facing charges in Argentina. He also
supported the requests by human rights organizations to turn the
former detention centers into memorials for the disappeared. Argentina
became a signatory of the UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of
Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in
2003. A creative interpretation of the convention by the courts
allowed them to circumvent the statutory limitations to crimes
committed decades in the past, and also the ex post facto
applicability of laws that were not in force at the time of the
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo held their final demonstration in
2006, believing that Kirchner, unlike previous presidents, was not
their enemy. They became political allies of Kirchner, who placed
them in prominent locations during his speeches, and the group became
a powerful NGO. He further underscored civilian control over the
military by appointing
Nilda Garré — who had been a political
prisoner during the
Dirty War — the country's first woman Minister
of Defense. As a result of his policies and approach, relations
between the civilian authorities and the military remained tense
throughout Kirchner's presidency.
Although Kirchner repudiated the military forces who participated in
the Dirty War, he overlooked the guerrilla movements of the time. The
government ignored the 30th anniversary of the ERP attack on the tank
regiment in Azul and the 15th anniversary of the 1989 attack on La
Tablada barracks. According to Rosendo Fraga, Kirchner downplayed the
presence of terrorist organizations during the Dirty War.
Guerrillas who committed suicide or who were executed by their own
organizations were re-categorized in 2006 as victims of state
terrorism, and their survivors were compensated by the state.
However, victims of the guerrillas were not compensated.
Journalist Ceferino Reato said that the Kirchners sought to replace
the theory of the two demons, which blamed the
Dirty War on both the
military and the guerrillas, with a "theory of angels and demons",
which blamed only the military.
After the presidency
Kirchner returns to
Argentina after the unsuccessful Operation
Kirchner did not run for a reelection in the 2007 presidential
elections. His wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, ran instead.
Media observers suspected that Kirchner stepped down as president to
circumvent the term limit, swapping roles with his
wife. Cristina Kirchner was elected, and Néstor
Kirchner became First Gentleman. He remained highly influential
during his wife's term, supervising the economy and leading the
PJ. Their marriage has been compared with those of Juan and Eva
Perón and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
He participated in
Operation Emmanuel in Colombia in December 2007,
which sought to release a group of
FARC hostages, including Colombian
politician Íngrid Betancourt. Kirchner returned to Argentina
after negotiations failed. The hostages were freed a year later
during Operation Jaque, a covert operation by the Colombian
Néstor Kirchner played an active role in the 2008 government conflict
with the agricultural sector, when Cristina Kirchner introduced a new
sliding-scale taxation system for agricultural exports that raised
custom taxes to soybean exports to 44%. At that time, he became
president of the
Justicialist Party and publicly supported his wife in
the conflict; Kirchner accused the agricultural sector of
attempting a coup d'état. He spoke in support of a bill to set
the taxes by law at a demonstration at the Palace of the Argentine
National Congress. Many senators who had supported the government
rejected the proposal, and the voting was tied 36–36. Vice-President
Julio Cobos, president of the Chamber of Senators, cast the decisive
vote in opposition to the measure.
In the June 2009 legislative elections, Kirchner was defeated by
Francisco de Narváez
Francisco de Narváez of the Union PRO coalition for National Deputy
Buenos Aires Province. The
Front for Victory
Front for Victory was defeated in the
Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Córdoba, and the Kirchners lost the
Congressional majority. Voter disenchantment with the Kirchners was
caused by inflation, crime and the previous year's agricultural
conflict, which cost them rural support. The Kirchners pushed a
media law through during the Congress' lame-duck session. The
Kirchners described it as an antitrust law to limit media ownership,
but critics considered instead that it was used to reduce the freedom
of the press.
Kirchner was nominated by Ecuador for Secretary General of the Union
of South American Nations (UNASUR), but was rejected by Uruguay when
Argentina were involved in a pulp-mill dispute. The
dispute was resolved in 2010; new Uruguayan president José Mujica
supported Kirchner, who was unanimously elected UNASUR's first
secretary-general at a member-state summit in
Buenos Aires on 4
May. Kirchner successfully mediated the 2010 Colombia–Venezuela
Style and ideology
Kirchner delivering a speech
Part of a series on
Lula da Silva
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Kirchnerism (Relato K)
Right-wing populism portal
Left-wing populism portal
Main article: Kirchnerism
Kirchner was often labelled a left-wing and progressive
president, with the cultural critic Alejandro Kaufman
stating that Kirchner was "an
Argentine social democrat: a centre-left
Peronist", who had been elected on a "moderate-progressive"
platform. However, that assessment is relative. Although he
was left of previous
Argentine presidents from
Raúl Alfonsín to
Eduardo Duhalde and contemporary Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva, he was right of other Latin American presidents such as Hugo
Chávez and Fidel Castro. Kirchner's nationalist approach to the
Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute
Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute was closer to the right, and
he did not consider left-wing policies such as the socialization of
production or the nationalization of public services which were
privatized during the Menem presidency. He did not attempt to
modify church–state relations or reduce the armed forces.
Kirchner's economic views were influenced by his tenure in the
government of Santa Cruz: a province rich in oil, gas, fish and
tourism, with an economy focused on the primary sector. Usually
avoiding long-term policies, he moved left or right according to
circumstances. Many leftist activists in
Argentina were cynical
about the sincerity of his commitment to progressive ideals and to
aiding the country's underclass.
A Peronist, Kirchner handled political power as Peronist leaders have
traditionally done. He nevertheless sought to portray himself as
being different from previous Peronist leaders. He made frequent
use of controversies with other political or social forces and the
polarization of public opinion, which became characteristic of his
political style. This strategy was used against the financial
sector, the military and police, foreign countries, international
bodies, newspapers, and Duhalde himself with varying degrees of
success. Kirchner sought to generate an image contrasting with
those of former presidents
Carlos Menem and Fernando de la Rúa. Menem
was seen as frivolous and De la Rúa as doubtful, so Kirchner tried to
be seen as serious and determined.
He sought to concentrate political power, and the emergency
superpowers law giving discretionary powers to the president to change
the national budget was periodically renewed. The Front for Victory
(conceived as a lema of the PJ) became a political alliance of the PJ,
pro-Kirchner factions in other parties, and minor left-wing parties.
The progressivist population, lacking leadership since the crisis
which discredited the UCR, also supported the new coalition. Most
Peronists simply defected to the new party, and the end of the
economic crisis and the discretionary control of state finances
allowed Kirchner to discipline his allies and co-opt his rivals. As a
consequence, the Congress became compliant and the opposition was
unable to present a credible alternative to the government. In
addition to concentrating power, Kirchner micromanaged most government
tasks or assigned them to trusted aides regardless of cabinet
hierarchy. He managed relations with the United States and Brazil,
leaving relations with Bolivia and Venezuela in the hands of Minister
of Federal Planning Julio de Vido. There were no cabinet meetings
during Kirchner's presidency, rare in a national government; this may
have been influenced by his governance of Santa Cruz, a
sparsely-populated province in which the cabinet was of little use and
decisions were primarily made by the governor.
Allegations of embezzlement
The Kirchners' net worth
Skanska case occurred during Kirchner's presidency, during which
several members of de Vido's ministry were accused of bribery in
requests for tender for pipeline construction, based on a tape
Skanska employees discussing the bribes. The case was
closed in 2011, when it was ruled that the tape was not acceptable
evidence and there was no overpricing. It was reopened in 2016 (with
Cristina Kirchner out of the government), and the tape was accepted as
The Kirchners' net worth, as reported to the AFIP revenue service,
increased by 4,500 percent between 1995 and 2010. A substantial
increase occurred in 2008, from 26.5 million to 63.5 million Argentine
pesos, due to the sale of long-owned land, hotel rentals, and time
Argentine pesos and U.S. dollars. They founded a
business-consulting company, El Chapel and established the Hotesur SA
and Los Sauces firms to manage their luxury hotels in El Calafate. The
Kirchners expanded Comasa, a firm of which they had a 90-percent
ownership. Their salaries as politicians were 3.62 percent of their
Kirchner was tried for unjust enrichment in 2004, with the case
focusing on the increase in his wealth from 1995 to 2003. The case was
first heard by judge Juan José Galeano and moved to judge Julián
Ercolini, who acquitted him in 2005. A new case involving both
Kirchners was heard by judge Norberto Oyarbide, who acquitted them in
The TV program
Periodismo para todos
Periodismo para todos aired an investigation in 2013,
detailing a case of embezzlement and an associated money trail
involving the Kirchners and businessman Lázaro Báez. Báez received
95 percent of the requests for tender in Santa Cruz province since
2003, more than four billion pesos, and the scandal was known as
the Route of the K-Money (Spanish: La ruta del dinero K). In the 2014
Hotesur scandal, a company owned by Báez rented more than 1,100 rooms
per month at Kirchner family hotels even when they were unoccupied. A
money-laundering scheme was suspected, funnelling public-works money
to the Kirchner family.
In April 2016, Kirchner's secretary and confidant Daniel Muñoz (who
died early that year) was identified in the
Panama Papers as owner of
real-estate investment firm Gold Black Limited. Company director
Sergio Todisco was investigated by prosecutors who suspected that the
company was used for money laundering. At the end of the year,
Julián Ercolini indicted Cristina Kirchner and several members
of their cabinet, charging them with a criminal conspiracy that would
have started when Nestor Kirchner first became president.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and
Hugo Moyano at
Main article: Death and state funeral of Néstor Kirchner
Kirchner died on 27 October 2010, at the age of 60. The day was a
national holiday for the INDEC to run a national census, so he was at
home in El Calafate. Kirchner was rushed to a local hospital and was
pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m from cardiac arrest. He had
undergone two medical procedures that year: surgery on his right
carotid artery in February and an angioplasty in September.
His death was a surprise for the Argentinian population, to whom he
had always represented his heart problems as not very serious.
His body was flown to the
Casa Rosada for a state funeral, and three
national days of mourning were declared. Kirchner's funeral was
attended by thousands, despite heavy rain. According to media reports,
1,000 people per hour entered the
Casa Rosada in groups of 100 to 150.
Cristina Kirchner, dressed in mourning, stood next to the coffin.
People brought candles, flags and flowers, some of which Cristina
Kirchner's death evoked international reactions moments after it was
announced, with Brazil and Venezuela also declaring three national
days of mourning. Colombian President
Juan Manuel Santos
Juan Manuel Santos and the
Organization of American States
Organization of American States declared a moment of silence, and U.S.
Barack Obama sent condolences. Attendees at Kirchner's
funeral included Chávez and Lula da Silva.
Mausoleum of Néstor Kirchner
Mausoleum of Néstor Kirchner in
Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz
Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz was
built by Lázaro Báez.
Although Kirchner was known to have health problems, his death was
unexpected, and had a great impact on the politics of Argentina.
Kirchner died at an early age, while still being a highly influential
figure in politics, despite not being president at the time.
Presidents Manuel Quintana,
Roque Sáenz Peña
Roque Sáenz Peña and Roberto María
Ortiz died in office, but none of them had a political clout
comparable to that of Kirchner. President
Juan Perón had a similar
power and died in office, but his death was not unexpected, as he had
already reached the life expectancy of the time. Other figures of the
Argentina who achieved great political clout, such as José
de San Martín, Juan Manuel de Rosas, Julio Argentino Roca, Carlos
Pellegrini and Hipólito Yrigoyen, all died when they were already
retired from politics, or even abroad.
Initially, the death of Kirchner caused a power vacuum, as Cristina
Kirchner had ruled so far as a figurehead, while Néstor Kirchner
still managed the government. She changed the style of the government
making it more authoritarian, and more critical of the U.S.. She broke
with allies of her husband, such as the union leader Hugo Moyano, and
increased the political clout of the youth wing
La Cámpora instead.
She also relied on her public image more than her husband had. The
popularity of the Kirchners had been in a decline at the time of
Néstor's death, but after being widowed, Cristina Kirchner's
popularity increased greatly. As a result, she won the reelection in
the 2011 general elections by a landslide.
Relato K built a cult of personality around the figure of
Kirchner. While in office, Cristina Kirchner avoided referring to him
by name, and talked instead about "He" or "Him", with emphasis on the
pronoun and with a universally capitalized form. As in the English
language, in the
Spanish language this figure of speech is usually
reserved to make reference to God. Kirchner was also
compared with San Martín, in an attempt to raise him to a similar
status as a national hero. This comparison was included, for instance,
in an official video by the ministry of social welfare. A month
after his death many districts renamed streets, schools,
neighbourhoods, institutions and other places after "Néstor
Kirchner". Some noteworthy examples are the
Néstor Kirchner Cultural
Centre (formerly "Bicentennial Cultural Centre") and the second leg of
Argentine Primera División season. The change proved
controversial in some cities, such as Caleta Olivia, where the renamed
street was formerly named after the
Falklands War veterans. A
bill to rename a street after Kirchner was rejected in Apóstoles,
Misiones. No renaming bill was even considered in Buenos Aires,
as a previous law only allowed streets to be named after people who
had died at least a decade before. The presidency of Mauricio
Macri proposed a bill in 2016 to forbid any public places or
institutions from being named after people unless they had died at
least two decades before; if approved, all the state properties named
after Kirchner would have to be renamed.
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Vargas Llosa, Álvaro (2014). Últimas noticias del nuevo idiota
iberoamericano [Latest news from the new iberoamerican useful idiot]
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Secretary General of Unasur
María Emma Mejía Vélez
President of Argentina
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Héctor Marcelino García
Governor of Santa Cruz
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
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Néstor Kirchner (2003–2007)
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