Argentinian minister quits in protest over detention of indigenous leaders in Chile
By Robert Tait, Guardian Australia, Published 29 April 2011
President Cristina Kirchner’s abrupt resignation leaves Argentinian president elect and the country’s most progressive minister, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in turmoil. She led the government until she was elected president last month.
Kirchner came to office two months ago with an impressive victory over her leftist opponent, former president, Mauricio Macri, but has faced a series of controversies, including the arrest of her former minister, Alfredo Moreno, the detention of two of her ministers, the firing of her foreign minister, and the arrest of four judges, the highest number it has ever had in 30 years.
In recent weeks, Kirchner’s credibility has been badly damaged by the arrest of three leaders of her indigenous community, of her former interior minister, Nestor Reverol, the arrest of a regional governor, Daniel Ortega, and the resignation of her minister for indigenous affairs, Ana Maria Giambrone, who accused the Kirchner government of going back on its promises.
She was left with only three months in government.
Kirchner’s surprise resignation, announced on Sunday by Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, in favour of Fernandez, is the clearest indication yet of Fernandez’s ability to emerge as an independent leader.
In response, Moreno said the Kirchners were “toxic”, accusing them of having “an open relationship with the US.” The president was “furious”, he added.
“It’s good that the president has decided to retire,” said Giambrone, who stepped down from her position as minister of indigenous affairs on March 29, when she had been due to hand in her resignation. “But I think that now she has to choose between us, the indigenous community or her family.”
Kirchner’s move could potentially have far reaching implications.
Fernandez, who was elected president a month ago by a huge margin, has not yet taken power but has a clear mandate, and is expected to act independently. She called Fernandez “a new Argentina” and said it was her intention to continue Kirchner’s policy.
The government was elected on a left