The following article in today's NY Times discusses the next likely
president of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, whose mother was a Croatian
born in Chile.
May 16, 2003
Argentina's Backwoods Leader-to-Be
By LARRY ROHTER
UENOS AIRES, May 15 - Néstor Kirchner's friends admit that when he
announced late last year that he would seek to become president of
Argentina, he had no expectation of winning. As the governor of a remote
and sparsely populated province in Patagonia - "the man nobody knows,"
in the words of one newsmagazine here - he aimed merely to make himself
known to the rest of the country and then try again in four years.
Instead, Mr. Kirchner, 53, is poised to become Argentina's 49th
president. A solid performance as one of three Peronist candidates in
the first round of the election last month, followed on Wednesday by the
startling withdrawal of his opponent, former president Carlos Menem,
means that there will be no runoff vote on Sunday and that Mr. Kirchner
will take office on May 25.
Once in power, though, his smooth ride is certain to end. He will be the
sixth president in less than 18 months, taking office without the
benefit of the landslide victory at the polls he had counted on to give
a fast start to his mandate. He will also inherit an economy that, as he
put it on Wednesday, has been "devastated, pressured and extorted" by a
debt default, four years of recession and the collapse of the banking
system and the peso.
But Mr. Kirchner clearly relishes his sudden leap onto the national
stage, even though his administrative experience has been limited to
governing fewer than 200,000 people with all the advantages that an
oil-based economy can bring. In his first remarks as president-designate
he was brimming with both confidence and toughness.
"I haven't come this far to make deals with the past," he vowed in a
Wednesday speech that coincided with Mr. Menem's withdrawal and
contained several traditional populist Peronist flourishes. Argentines
can be certain, he promised, that he has "decided to turn the page of
history" and "start to build a new country with you."
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was born in Río Gallegos, the capital of Santa
Cruz, the southernmost of Argentina's mainland provinces, on Feb. 25,
1950. His father was a post office bookkeeper and his mother a
housewife; the couple had three children, of whom Mr. Kirchner is the
The first Argentine president to be born in Patagonia, Mr. Kirchner is
descended from the Central European immigrants who flocked to that
remote and wind-swept region as pioneers a century ago. "My grandmother
was Swiss and my grandfather German," he said at a recent news
conference with foreign correspondents here. "My mother is Croatian,
born in Chile."
People who knew Mr. Kirchner as a child described him as an inquisitive
student from a tightknit family that read widely and supported Gen. Juan
Domingo Perón. As a tall and somewhat gawky adolescent, with a
pronounced lisp that he retains today, he distinguished himself less in
the classroom than by joining the basketball team to play forward, his
coach, Emilio García Pacheco, recalled in Río Gallegos this week.
"Kirchner was a mediocre player, but he had a lot of dedication, drive
and persistence," Mr. García Pacheco said. "He has calmed down with age
and responsibility, but back then he was hotblooded, prone to get angry
easily and to fight a lot with the referees."
As is traditional among Peronist party leaders, Mr. Kirchner has a wife,
Cristina Fernández, who is a formidable political figure in her own
right. She is an influential senator from Santa Cruz Province and for
many years before that was Mr. Kirchner's law partner.
The couple, who have a son, 26, and a daughter, 13, met during their
college years in La Plata in the mid-1970's. When a military coup
overthrew María Estela Perón in March 1976, they took refuge in Mr.
Kirchner's hometown, anticipating but hoping to evade the roundup of
students, Peronists and other perceived "subversives" that would
eventually result in the disappearance of as many as 30,000 people.
Nevertheless, Mr. Kirchner was taken into custody twice in the early
days of the dictatorship, "once for more or less a month and then for
just a few days," his sister, Alicia Margarita Kirchner, recalled in an
interview in his hometown last week.
During the presidential campaign, Mr. Menem repeatedly accused Mr.
Kirchner of belonging to the Montonero left-wing guerrillas, the main
adversary of the military during the country's "dirty war." Mr. Kirchner
has denied that affiliation, but the Peronist youth group to which he
belonged was known to have clandestine ties to the guerrillas, and a
friend said recently that "he of course sympathized with their aims, as
did all of us in those days."
In what amounted to an inaugural address on Wednesday, Mr. Kirchner
said: "I belong to a generation that did not buckle under persecution or
in the face of the disappearance of friends as part of the greatest
system of repression ever created in our country. We have the strength
of those who got into politics because we thought this country could
During the remainder of the dictatorship, the Kirchners focused on their
law practice and became wealthy.
In 1987, four years after the return of democracy to Argentina, Mr.
Kirchner was elected mayor of Río Gallegos. Four years later, he ran for
governor, winning a narrow victory, and then, after changing the
Constitution so he could run again, winning re-election by broader
margins in 1995 and 1999 despite an opposition that criticizes his
conduct as imperious and inflexible.
Here in the capital there have been suggestions that Mr. Kirchner is
both colorless and something of a country bumpkin who will be easily
outwitted by the Peronist party establishment. But his sister Alicia,
who is minister of social affairs in his provincial government, warns
not to judge him by appearances or to underestimate him.
"Some worry whether Néstor is charismatic or not, but those who know him
know that he is someone who is single-minded, who gets an idea in his
head and goes with it," she said. "That has made him both friends and
"EL PRESIDENTE DE LOS ARGENTINOS".
No es el hombre carismático, que los argentinos siempre estuvieron acostumbrados a votar, pero es quien supo ganar una posición respetable en el electorado, con una selectiva interpretación del estado de animo que la ciudadanía sufre desde hace varios años sin saber que rumbo tomar, y estos entre elegir a Menem optaron por volcar el voto en un hombre que aparentemente, no sufre del mal que lo aqueja al riojano, de haber tenido una gestión corrupta, y descargar sobre sus espaldas hecho lamentables que fueron sucediendo a lo largo de los díez años del gobierno de Carlos Menem. "Arto de soportar las locuras del menemismo, el electorado no le permite volver a Menem y su clan". Dejándolo en una posición embarazosa, porque después de la derrota, le será difícil reponerse.
¿PORQUÉ PERDIÓ MENEM EN CHACABUCO?
En esta ciudad, primó la mezquindad personal de algunos referentes por encima de la candidatura del ex presidente, como así también se fueron dando una serie de factores como, "Algunas caras que producen repulsión a la hora de emitir el voto", la individualidad de los referentes de la lista 133, hizo que creciera y sacara buen caudal de votos la lista Nº 20 liderada por los Dres. Antonio Miori y Daniel Tissieres Ortiz. "Otro factor fue la falta de fiscales que tuvo el menemismo, sin haber podido cubrir la totalidad de las mesas"
"Por más que quiera vestir la mona de seda, mona queda", es la versión recogida en esta ciudad con respecto al golpe de timón que quiso reflejar el ex presidente después de haber tenido un fallido festejo, en el hotel presidente el 27 por la noche, creando más irritación entre el electorado argentino, al ver en ese hotel -caras- de la nefasta gestión menemista de los años 90, acá más que el entorno, la elección la pierde el propio riojano, al equivocarse en la estrategia, y falta desinteligencia porque él nunca hubiera entrado en el juego de Kirchner "Calentarse y perder los estribos, en más de una oportunidad", mientras que el santacruceño, capitalizaba votos, el ex presidente, salía por todos los medios lanzando criticas y amenazas de fraude, que nunca llevo a la justicia, ni tampoco presentó pruebas.
Fue el creador de la estrategia contundente para ser derrotado CARLOS MENEM, primero le hizo la jugada del siglo, no dandolé pelea en el campo interno, después lo deja muy comprometido con el triunfo del 27 de abril, donde el riojano queda en una situación muy difícil de dirimir, que fue seguir o bajarse, sabiendo que cuanto más lo venga a torear el actual presidente, esto fortalece la convicción de Menem para seguir en carrera, aun sabiendo que es derrotado por amplio margen en favor de KIRCHNER.