Kirchner’s visit an escape from Argentine realities

Es una opinión sobre la visita de la presidente Cristina Fernández de Kirchner a EE.UU. “in english”.

By Sally Painter



The annual influx of world leaders for the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly has become a fall ritual, like cooling temperatures and shorter days. Among the representatives of the world body’s 193 member states making an American visit this year is President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, whose relationship with the U.S. — and much of the rest of the international community — has become increasingly rocky even as her domestic headaches pile up.

Indeed, President Kirchner seems intent on taking full advantage of her visit, tacking on trips to Washington and Boston as well as New York. She may simply be enjoying getting away from the noise of Buenos Aires. There, tens of thousands took to the streets last Thursday, clanging on casserole pans outside her official residence to register their disapproval with rapid inflation, rising crime and restrictive capital controls.

But she has greater ambitions for her visit as well. On Wednesday, she will arrive at Georgetown University as the guest of the prestigious School of Foreign Service. There, she will kick off a newly created Argentina Forum, housed in the Center for Latin American Studies and designed in cooperation with the Argentine ambassador to the United States, Jorge Arguello. And from there, she will head to Harvard on Thursday to headline a speech at the Kennedy School of Government. Undoubtedly, Kirchner sees this warm welcome from two of the leading pillars of the American policy elite as a priceless opportunity to put a new spin on her governing record and relaunch a tense relationship. This is all to the good — better communication between world leaders should be welcomed. But while the president relishes her charm offensive, it must not be forgotten that her government has presided over a severe deterioration in the very press protections and atmosphere of open debate that she so enjoys in the United States. In the years since Kirchner’s first election in 2007, a clear and disturbing pattern has emerged when it comes to freedom of expression. In a sort of pincer move, the government and its allies have sought to squeeze and discourage opposition voices from two sides. On the one hand, through legislation that progressively expands government control over press and news outlets. On the other, there has been a campaign of intimidation and harassment against individual journalists and independent commentators. The cumulative effect is to allow the government a level of plausible deniability while chilling dissent, encouraging self-censorship and consolidating state influence over the public sphere. Colaboración de Armando Actis desde USA.


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