By Luis Bruchstein – Aug 27, 2022
Media corporations underestimated the spontaneous mobilizations that took place throughout the country in support of Kirchner and tried to cover them up by forcing statements from President Alberto Fernández. However, the maneuver was so obvious that it exposed concerns that existed in corporate media circles and in Macrismo.
The corporate media went full speed ahead in an unprecedented effort to compete with the unexpected popular mobilizations against the prosecution of Cristina Kirchner in the “Vialidad” case. Virtual, doctored, and monopolized information controlled remotely by corporate media—features of modern media warfare—characterized the dispute, which was then broadcast to an audience of thousands. Subsequent demonstrations mobilized by the people incensed the corporations controlling the narrative, who then attempted to nullify coverage of the protests.
Sooner or later, demonstrations were bound to begin as the persecution against Kirchner continued; thus, the term “unexpected” only refers to expectations toward this particular incident. Either ignorance or lack of sensitivity to public opinion influenced Macrismo‘s underestimation of the considerable reaction of the people against Kirchner’s imprisonment. Ultimately, this underestimation was a mistake.
Macrismo, the hegemonic media, and the judicial officials involved in the case all represent the same thing. Lack of evidence against Kirchner should have prevented the case from dragging on, but political reasons kept it alive, as with what had happened with the 2018 “Notebooks” scandal. The involved parties did not respect existing legal frameworks and forced the accusations to a level where the resolution ended up becoming more political than judicial.
Macri: the millionaire businessman who got rich off the State
The compulsion of Macrismo to use judicial persecution as its main political tool created a high-pressure microclimate. Looked at from a distance, the alliance that elected and inaugurated a State-invested millionaire launching an anti-corruption crusade against Kirchnerista leaders only highlights the hypocrisy of this alliance.
In the past decade, head of state Mauricio Macri was involved in a variety of corruption scandals. He refused to pay the State for the leasing of the post office, and additionally, he manipulated the bidding for the installation of the underground Sarmiento railway so that the State, which he headed, would give 45 billion pesos to the company IECSA, of which he was the owner. Macri also was behind similar cases of corruption with the concessions to Autopistas del Sol, an infrastructure company that belonged to the Macri Group, and with the wind farms, in which the Macri Group was also involved, not to mention several cases of money laundering that benefited both his brother and mother.
In 2016, 50 companies sponsored by Macri were implicated in the infamous Panama Papers scandal, in which 11.5 million documents detailing offshore company activities were leaked. These results launched him to a place among the top ten most corrupt heads of state. Meanwhile, no Kirchnerista companies have been implicated.
It is difficult to believe in the good faith of the political leaders who backed this character when they express their “indignation” at the alleged corruption of a government they oppose, but stay silent about the corruption of the one they support.
The same goes for the outraged “independent” press who are relentless against the people’s government, but say nothing about the government supported by those who own the media companies they work for—whether national or foreign—and who are part of the Macrista apparatus. However, the evident hypocrisy ends up getting obscured within a microclimate manipulated by the media monopoly, which has the ability to create its own truths and lies.
The unexpected reaction from Peronismo
Macrismo gets no empathy from the popular sector; it does not understand them, and it did not expect the massive waves of people that began to gather in front of vice president Kirchner’s apartment on August 27. Macrismo had expected all the attention to be focused on inflation and the high cost of living, and it was wrong.
Macrismo also did not understand the logic of the Peronista movement. They had mistakenly thought that the internal divisions within the movement were no longer reconcilable, and that Cristina Kirchner’s conviction would deepen those divisions. Instead, the reverse happened.
When the ranks of Peronismo mobilize, few are left out. The public meeting of the Buenos Aires branch of Partido Justicialista (PJ) held on Thursday unified all the internal factions of Peronismo in defense of the vice-president and to mobilize against the criticisms of the judges and prosecutors involved in the case.
Thousands of people packed throughout the surrounding streets marked unprecedented attendance at the Thursday meeting. Marches even occurred in anti-Peronismo-dominated regions such as Córdoba or Rosario. Mobilizations in defense of Kirchner were held in all the large cities of the country, and there were proclamations at the workers’ centers from the different currents of the labor movement. Governors and mayors spoke too, many of them from provinces that Peronismo does not govern.
This reaction was totally unexpected and led to a process which, even without settling the strong internal contradictions or the discussion about the electoral lists, unified the movement. Until just a few hours ago, the movement was brimming with strong debates between the two main political forces. However, the situation changed as soon as the attorney demanded 12 years of imprisonment for Kirchner and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The charges against the vice president were enough to alter the political scenario, and the opposition did not fully understand the implications of its own actions. Every anti-democratic tactic that it uses will end up provoking the dragon: the people identify with this leadership, and when it is attacked, instead of turning away, the people feel attacked themselves. Defamation and judicial persecution may work with other leaders, but when it comes to a popular leadership rooted in processes of equitable distribution of wealth and expansion of rights, those tactics will backfire.
Counterattack from the media
The strong support for Cristina Kirchner and the mass mobilizations that arose spontaneously all over the country shook the opposition’s confidence. Macrismo‘s response was to try to cover it up by diverting media attention to the declarations of President Alberto Fernández, turning them into a national spectacle. They then concealed coverage on the massive marches in defense of Kirchner with overwhelming commentary on the innocuous statements made by Fernández during a program on the TV channel Grupo Clarín.
Fernández defended Kirchner and criticized the judges and prosecutors involved in the legal battle but ended up taking the bait when he was questioned on the Nisman issue. His response, coerced by the media and taken out of context, was presented as a threat against the attorney of the Vialidad case. Legislators of the Macrista opposition, Juntos por el Cambio, demanded impeachment. The predicament, resulting from a forced blunder on the part of Fernández, was then broadcast on the front pages of newspapers and rehashed on radio and television programs to hide the real news, which was the massive popular discontent against legal warfare and support for Vice President Kirchner.
Efforts to hide the popular demonstrations were so evident that they exposed concerns that the massive popular response were instigated by the circles of de facto power, the corporate media, and Macrismo.
In this context, the prospect of convicting the vice president would imply a sharpening of political and social conflicts to unpredictable levels. Due to the lack of evidence against Kirchner, Macrismo could resort to acquitting the former president and convicting the other defendants. It would be difficult for the court to follow the path of Brazil, where its equivalent, the Superior Court of Justice, dismissed the cases against the Workers’ Party.
Kirchnerismo has already declared that it would not accept a presidential pardon. If it came down to that decision, the pardon would have to be accompanied by a profound democratization of the judiciary.
This confrontation between the virtual media world and the concrete mobilization of the masses represents the attempt to remove from the popular movement the clear leadership embodied by Cristina Kirchner. The popular defense of that leadership is also the defense of democracy.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune