Violence. Argentina shocked and divided after the failed attack on Cristina Kirchner

In the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Cristina Kirchner, tens of thousands of Argentines, in shock, demonstrated Friday, September 2 in several cities of the country. Especially in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, where “political, trade union and social organizations, artists as well as ordinary citizens“gathered for”repudiate the attack on the vice president” and “call for national unity”, writes in a very sober and factual text the opposition daily Clarin.

The Nation detailed, in an interactive reconstruction, what happened exactly the day before. Thursday evening shortly after 9 p.m., according to cellphone footage, a man apparently acting alone “pointed a handgun at Cristina Kirchner’s head as she saluted activists” in his neighborhood of Recoleta, in Buenos Aires. But he is not “managed to shoot his face”, the shot not having gone off. “The assailant was then quickly brought under control” and stopped.

According to an expert interviewed by the Argentinian newspaper Cronistathe attack failed because “sIf we take the image of the weapon circulating in the media, we see that the magazine is not completely housed inside the weapon”. Also, he explains,the shooter was convinced that he was going to be able to shoot, because he made the mechanical movement, but the bullet was not loaded”.

A far-right “marginal” who “intended to kill”

We now know more about the shooter. Named Fernando André Sabag Montiel, 35 years old, of Brazilian nationality but of Argentinian mother and Chilean father, he has lived in Argentina since 1993. He was arrested in March 2021 for carrying a knife.

According to a man named Mario who presented himself on Argentine television as his childhood friend, he would be a “marginal” lost since the death of his mother, a “mythomaniac” whose life “was often influenced by alcohol”. Sporting a Nazi tattoo, he made up stories “to get noticed” but had good “intent to kill” the vice-president, according to this testimony reported by The Nation.

The attacker further “a troubled and tragic family history”, as shown by the survey of the Brazilian daily Globe. His father wasarrested several times over the past two decades in São Paulo for crimes including theft and embezzlement” and now lives in Chile after being expelled from Brazil. His paternal grandfather meanwhile “killed his second wife and committed suicide in 1998 in an apartment in central São Paulo”.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro called the assassination attempt a “regrettable”on the sidelines of a campaign rally for his re-election, according to the Brazilian news site G1. “That said, when I was stabbed, a lot of people celebrated it there. [en Argentine] ”he could not help adding, an allusion to the stabbing attack he suffered in the middle of the campaign before his presidential election in 2018.

The brief political unity is already beginning to “crack”

The political significance of the event is, however, gigantic in Argentina. Important element of context: Cristina Kirchner is currently the subject of an extremely publicized corruption trial, and risks up to twelve years in prison as well as ineligibility for life.

If the American edition ofEl País sees as “a good sign” the fact that “all parties reacted swiftly and forcefully in condemning the failed attack”, the editorial staff admits that “it’s not enough“and let the country cross there”a very serious crisis”, “one of the darkest days of its almost 40 years of democracy”.

The left-wing daily in Buenos Aires Page 12 designates as responsiblethe hatred that the media and political apparatus has been vomiting daily for years, constantly targeting Cristina”. For the editorialist Alfredo Zaiat, this failed attack constitutes “a renewed class revenge of the elites”, a new attempt by the right to get rid of Kirchnerism, which remained “competitive in electoral terms and social membership” despite adversity.

Another columnist fromEl País notice on his side that the unity after the failed attack is already beginning to “crack”. “For a brief moment, dismay at the inconceivable, rejection of political violence and convergence in defense of democratic coexistence seemed to prevail”, explains the journalist Sergio Daniel Moresi. However “social peace in Argentina is on the verge of exploding”. And to reinforce it, it seems to him “less urgent to point the finger at the culprits than to work to disarm a dangerous dynamic in which all those of us participate who fall into the idea that the political other is evil incarnate”.

Violence. Argentina shocked and divided after the failed attack on Cristina Kirchner