December 4, 2013
CFK burnishes left-wing credentials at City rally
Following complaints of right-turn after primaries defeat
With her return from the G20 summit in Moscow, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday hit several birds with one stone: burnishing her leftist credentials, kicking off the Victory Front’s (FpV) campaign for the Buenos Aires City Legislature and reinvigorating the party’s efforts at the national level with a political rally in the impoverished Barracas neighbourhood of Villa 21.
The president announced the Culture Secretariat headquarters would undergo a big shift away from its current tony location on the upscale Avenida Alvear to its new 1,500 square-metre facilities.
The new Secretariat headquarters were built by residents of the neighbourhood in what Fernández de Kirchner described as a “miracle of politics.” The building in Recoleta will now be turned into a museum.
The shantytowns known as villas have been a loyal segment of the Kirchnerite electorate over the last decade, and the president announced sewage works for the neighbourhood yesterday.
Head candidate for City Legislature Jorge Taiana was in attendance, along with the candidates for Senate and Lower House Daniel Filmus and Juan Cabandié. Pablo Ferreyra, the lead candidate for the FpV’s allied front for the local government elections, Alternativa Popular, the brother of murdered Workers’ Party activist Mariano, was also present.
Inaugurating the “first government headquarters in a villa” dubbed the “House of Culture,” the president sought to appeal to the left, proudly stating that she had voted for left-wing Peronism in 1973.
The president confessed that “after Héctor Cámpora resigned, there was a list, the Popular Leftist Front (Frente de Izquierda Popular), that, along with the Justicialist Party,” had Juan Domingo Perón as its presidential candidate and whose slogan was “Vote Perón from the left.”
“They’ll kill me tomorrow, but I had to say it, otherwise I was going to explode,” Fernández de Kirchner said yesterday.
It was an unexpected declaration at a time when many have been accusing her government of shifting to the right on security matters after her party’s loss in the primaries.
Calls for harmony
Priest José María di Paola, who was formerly the parish priest for the neighbourhood, was invited to give the crowd a blessing, after the president claimed to be “paying off a small part of the debt the state owes vulnerable sectors.”
“Harmony is the most difficult thing to reach, because it requires balance, serenity, peace, willpower and much action for others,” she emphasized, continuing the recent trend of emphasizing her religious beliefs by urging people to “pray to God and the Virgin (Mary), because miracles exist.”
“Today we can mark two notches in the ‘have’ column. Seeing our kids busy, in training and learning about culture that is not only reserved to those who had access to education means harmony and social peace,” Fernández de Kirchner remarked.
Father “Pepe” said he wished Pope Francis could have been present at the inauguration, as he had an active presence in the neighbourhood during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
FpV strong in villas
The rally took place in a Kirchnerite stronghold. Shantytowns were one of the few places where Kirchnerism came out on top in the capital during the August primaries, while Mayor Mauricio Macri’s PRO performed poorly.
Kirchnerism mustered 50 percent of votes, getting a total of 3,189 ballots cast in its favour in Villa 21-24 NHT Zavaleta, the city’s largest villa, compared to the PRO’s 1,720.
In her speech, the head of state announced an agreement with state-run water company AySA for sewage works for “Buenos Aires City’s most important villa,” so that “the neighbourhood’s 12,000 residents can have access to drinking water and sewage,” adding that the one percent of the capital that lacked sewage had been covered by the project.
In Villa 31, another of the City’s largest shantytowns in the neighbourhood of Retiro, the FpV obtained almost three times the PRO’s votes with 2,100 votes compared to 715.
Herald with DyN