December 9, 2013
Outside the hospital, a huge sigh of relief
Anxious supporters gather to hear the latest on their leader’s condition.
With just four simple words, presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro managed to bring cheers and tears of joy to Belgrano Avenue: “the surgery was satisfactory.”
Suddenly, the avenue outside the Favaloro Foundation hospital became a giant dance floor. The more than 1,000 people started to sing and link arms in communal prayer.
It was as if a wave of relief washed over the crowd that had been waiting for hours.
Even though doctors had assured that the president’s surgery was not serious, the president’s supporters were worried until the last possible moment.
“Surgery is never good news. I will not be calm until I’m sure she is OK again — a brain condition is a complicated issue,” Daniela Maqui from Morón told the Herald.
The first few followers began showing up outside the clinic on Belgrano Avenue at 6.30am. Numerous police officers were posted at the entrance of the hospital to make sure no one went in without authorization.
As the morning passed, those gathered outside the hospital became anxious. Information was scarce, and rumours were plentiful.
In the absence of information, some decided the best course of action was to pray. Nine women got together and joined in a circle in front of the Favaloro main entrance.
“The Virgin will help us because Cristina is a nice woman,” Esther Correa told the Herald. “She deserves it. Everything is going to be alright and we will celebrate. You will see.”
Her words expressed certainty, but her eyes were tinged with concern.
Time went by and uncertainty increased. No one knew anything.
Meanwhile, people kept on arriving. One of them was Agustín, the little boy who became famous because of his desire “to meet Cristina in real life” — the words he told his father in a video that quickly went viral on YouTube.
“We are here to support Cristina,” said the boy’s father, Sergio Haurat. “We really want her to feel well again.”
The most notable aspect of the crowd that gathered outside the hospital yesterday was that it was very short on political activists. Most people there seemed to have decided to join the vigil to support the president out of their own volition and were not part of any political
One of them was Candelaria Pérez Quiroga, 15, who took her violin to the site and played the national anthem, in what she described as an act to honour the president.
Crowd keeps growing
At around 11 am, the crowd suddenly turned into a multitude. Seemingly impervious to the rising temperatures, the crowds were awaiting what they hoped would be good news.
Activists, students, housewives, professionals, pensioners gathered and there was only one topic of conversation — the president’s health.
And as the crowd grew more anxious, the polite prayer seemed to give way to heated political discussions and words of anger toward those perceived to be the president’s enemies. The main target? Clarín Group.
“They are not gonna take her from us. And now, they are attacking (Vice-President) Amado Boudou. And that is because the vice-president took away the (pension funds) from them,” Diana Santillana told the Herald, while she carried a sign that read: “Cris be strong.”
Around noon, when an unseasonably hot sun was punishing those on the burning-hot asphalt on Belgrano Avenue, word started to travel: Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli said the president’s surgery had gone well.
PATIENCE GROWS THIN
The statement should have calmed the nerves, but quite the contrary, anxiety seemed to reach fever pitch as people were angry they were not getting any information firsthand. Some people climbed the fence closing off the hospital from the avenue.
“I’ve been here since 7am and I really want to know how Cristina is doing,” Ivana Quiroz, a student, told the Herald. “They have to know... surgery was at 8 am!”
Everybody was waiting to the official report. That would be the reward after a long, seemingly interminable wait.
And as the wait became longer, the agressive chants and songs, particularly those targeting the Clarín Group — “those who do not jump are with Clarín” was a popular choice — were particularly loud.
And suddenly, shortly before 1pm, the security guards began moving nervously, leading to a generalized silence among the crod.
People began rushing toward the fence while the hospital’s personnel tested the microphones were in working condition.
A few seconds later, presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro walked to the platform and everyone seemed to take a breath.
Then came the four words — and the relief.