A man has been detained after pointing a gun at point-blank range at Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
President Alberto Fernandez said Fernandez de Kirchner only survived because his gun, which was loaded with five bullets, did not fire.
The incident, in which Fernandez de Kirchner appeared unharmed, occurred at 9pm on Thursday while greeting supporters outside his home in Buenos Aires’ Recoleta neighborhood.
“A man put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger,” the president said on national television. “Christina is still alive because her gun didn’t fire for some as yet unconfirmed reason.”
He called it “the most serious incident since democracy was restored” in 1983 and urged political leaders and society at large to deny it.
Argentinian newspaper Clarin reported that a 35-year-old Brazilian man had been arrested at the scene.
The dramatic event was captured by television cameras outside Fernandez de Kirchner’s home. There, for days, supporters had gathered to protest the corruption charges brought against her in court.
Footage appears to show the man pushing aside the supporters, raising a gun in Fernandez de Kirchner’s face and attempting to fire, but it appears to misfire. , some reports say they did not fire. A former president her two times and a major political figure in Argentina, she is seen covering her face and crouching in response. She was reportedly unharmed.
Security Minister Anibal Fernandez told local cable news channel C5N that the man had been detained. “A person identified by someone close to him who had a gun, [the vice-president’s] security officer. They put him aside and they found the weapon and now it needs to be analyzed,” he said.
Fernandez said the firearm had five bullets and “didn’t fire when the trigger was pulled.” He declared that he would give him time to “express himself in solidarity with the Vice President.”
Levels of verbal violence have risen alarmingly among Argentine opposition politicians this year, centered mainly on corruption charges brought to court against Fernández de Kirchner.Some Extreme Opposition Politics The House is asking the Vice President to reintroduce the death penalty.
After the incident, Fernández de Kirchner’s Frente de Todos party statement said, “The incitement to hatred emanating from various spheres of politics, media and judicial power against the former president led to a climate of extreme violence. only,” he said.
Economy Minister Sergio Massa called the incident an “assassination attempt”.
“When hate and violence trump debate, society is destroyed and assassination attempts are created,” he said in a tweet.
Former President Mauricio Macri called for an immediate investigation into this “very serious” attack and “fortunately the Vice President was not harmed.”
“They wanted to kill [Kirchner]’Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero tweeted. “This is the most serious act of political violence since the restoration of democracy.”
Fernandez de Kirchner was a powerful and divisive figure in Argentina, and during his two terms as president from 2007 to 2015, he built close allies for road contracts in his home province of Santa Cruz. He has been embroiled in long-running accusations of endorsing the company.
Prosecutor Diego Luciani last week sought a 12-year prison sentence if convicted, sparking widespread protests across Argentina, including in front of Fernandez de Kirchner’s Buenos Aires home. She responded that the indictment was politically motivated and faced a “judicial and mediating firing squad”.
Fernández de Kirchner is widely expected to run for Senate and possibly President in next year’s general election.
Reports that the suspect is Brazilian have sent shockwaves across Brazil where there is growing concern that far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s radical rhetoric may have sparked some kind of violent incident.
Brazil is a month away from presidential elections in which Bolsonaro will face off against his bitter rival, leftist former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula reportedly began wearing a bulletproof vest at rallies out of fear of similar attacks by right-wing extremists.
Last week, the Guardian newspaper saw Federal Police investigators check trash cans for explosives before Fernandez de Kirchner’s ally Lula held a press conference for foreign media in São Paulo. rice field.
In 2018, Bolsonaro infamously called on his supporters to “machine gun” his leftist opponents.
News of the event sparked outrage throughout the region.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez said Cuba was “horrified” and called the incident an “attempted murder”.
Sasha Lorenti, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted that “hate will never win.”
Brazilian Labor Party leader Greg Hoffman said the attacks were “the result of political violence and hate speech”.
“Thank God she came out unscathed,” Lula wrote, blaming “criminal fascists” for the attack.
With Reuters and Associated Press