New Internationalist

Farewell to Argentina’s former president

A great fighter has gone.

Those who understand that life is lived with passion and that struggles continue until the end will miss this skinny guy, who came from the southernmost part of Argentina to change the way Argentineans understand politics, their country and the future.

Last week, Néstor Kirchner, 60, former president of Argentina, president of the ruling party, husband of the current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, national deputy and secretary general of UNASUR, died of a heart attack in El Calafate, Santa Cruz.

Néstor Kirchner. Photo: Emmanuel Buchot.

His death shocked Argentineans, many of whom were at home because of a national holiday.

Kirchner had had several heart problems, but always successfully confronted them. Nobody expected this outcome. Ricardo Alfonsín, son of former president Raúl Alfonsín, said that doctors had given Kirchner a choice between health and militancy. ‘And he chose political militancy.’

Despite thousands of differences, one cannot fail to recognize some of the best legacies of Kirchner: his human rights politics which returned the identity of dozens of children who had been abducted by the military and ended the impunity of the genocidal murderers of the last military dictatorship; the broadcasting law that started a path of democratization of communication; Argentina’s foreign policy, which abandoned the country’s subordination to the US and joined the interests of the brotherly peoples of Latin America; reduction of the country’s debt burden; nationalization of pension funds and national airlines; and universal child allocation, which enabled millions of children in need of assistance to escape poverty and hunger, among others.

Many things are still in the process of being implemented, but more important is the fact that without Kirchner, they would never have been made possible.

Minutes after the news of Kirchner’s death broke, people with flowers and posters began to arrive in the Plaza de Mayo.

On funeral day, vast crowds lined the streets of Buenos Aires, waving a last goodbye to their former president as his coffin was carried to the capital’s airport. Kirchner was buried in his home town of Río Gallegos.

Lupo, as his friends called him, was an example that by participating, you can change the world.

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