A man was arrested Thursday night after aiming a handgun at Argentina’s politically powerful Vice President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, at point-blank range. The assassination attempt failed because the gun did not fire.
“A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger,” the president said in a national broadcast.
He called it “the most serious incident since we recovered democracy” in 1983 and urged political leaders and society at large to repudiate it.
The president spoke soon after a video of the scene was shown on local TV. The video showed Kirchner getting out of her car in front of her home, where she was surrounded by supporters, and a man reaching out with a gun.
The vice president ducked as the group of people gathered around them appeared shocked by what was occurring in the midst of the commotion in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta.
Shortly after the incident, the man was taken into custody.
The president said the firearm had five bullets “and didn’t fire even though the trigger was pulled.”
“A person who was identified by those who were close to him who had a gun was detained by (the vice president’s) security personnel,” according to Security Minister Anbal Fernández, who spoke to local cable news channel C5N.
The minister claimed that until the investigation had more information, he wanted to be cautious when giving details.
The pistol almost touched Fernández’s face, according to a video posted on social media.
Fernando Andrés Zabak, a Brazilian citizen and supporter of the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, was named shooter by state-run news organization Télam.
Government representatives labeled the incident an assassination attempt.
Economic Minister Sergio Massa said, “When hate and violence are imposed over the debate of ideas, societies are destroyed and generate situations like the one seen today: an assassination attempt.”
In a press release, government officials under President Alberto Fernández said they “energetically condemn the attempted homicide.” of the vice president. According to the press release, “What happened tonight is of extreme gravity and threatens democracy, institutions, and the rule of law.”
Mauricio Macri, a former president, also condemned the assault. Macri posted on Twitter, “This very serious event demands an immediate and profound clarification by the judiciary and security forces.”
Since the weekend, when the vice president’s supporters and police clashed in the streets near her apartment as authorities tried to clear the area, tensions have been high in the affluent Recoleta neighborhood. After the altercations, there were fewer police officers stationed close to the vice president’s apartment than there had been previously.
Axel Kicillof, the governor of Buenos Aires, stated that “this is a historic event in Argentina that must be a before-and-after.”
Leaders from the region also condemned the violent attack.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro posted on Twitter, “We send our solidarity to the vice president in this attempt against her life.”
In support of Cristina Kirchner, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, a candidate for Brazil’s presidency in the upcoming month, described her as “a victim of a fascist criminal who doesn’t know how to respect differences and diversity.”
Bolsonaro lies about the Chilean president on a national network, and Chile summons Brazil’s ambassador to Santiago to protest Bolsonaro’s remarks
In a nationally televised presidential debate on Sunday, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, ended his participation by making attacks on the presidents of other Latin American countries.
Bolsonaro claimed that the return of his opponent, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), whom he referred to as a “former prisoner,” as well as the alliance with Vice President Geraldo Alckmin (PSB), represented a “union of all that is worse.”
Bolsonaro attacked presidents Alberto Fernandéz in Argentina, Gabriel Boric in Chile, and Gustavo Petro in Colombia, sworn in this month.
He further lied about the president of Chile and accused him of setting fire to the subways of Chile.
Bolsonaro’s speech triggered a diplomatic incident and motivated the summoning for consultation of the Brazilian ambassador in Santiago.
In a statement, the Chilean government quoted the Brazilian president and said that the speeches “are unacceptable and are not in line with the respectful treatment due to heads of state or with the fraternal relations between two Latin American countries.”