Néstor Forever

The public speeches of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner often have the feel of therapy sessions. Since her husband and predecessor died suddenly of a heart attack on Oct. 27, 2010, rare is the appearance in which she doesn’t fight back tears while remembering “him.” She almost never utters Néstor’s name. Cristina, who continues to dress in mourning black, her supporters have constructed a myth around Néstor, crediting him with changing the course of Argentine history after the country’s economic collapse a decade ago, they even suggest his heart gave out, literally, because of his extreme devotion to the cause. Roads, schools, hospitals and soccer tournaments have been named after the one-term president. “Because Néstor didn’t leave, I hold him in my heart,” goes one popular chant sung by government supporters at rallies. (source: Daniel Politi – NYTimes – 22/11/2012)

Now these die-hard supporters can flock to the theaters starting Thursday, when long-awaited documentary “Néstor Kirchner, the Movie” premieres on 120 screens across the country, a wide release that rivals the most popular productions. The 98-minute film is an unapologetic ode to the former president’s achievements from the time he rose to power in 2003 to when he stood down, in 2007, in favor of Cristina but remained an influential figure in her administration. Yet by harking back to a time when it was easier to ignore government’s faults, it unwittingly suggests the end of an era. Outside the movie theaters, Kirchners’ reign may be on its last legs. Paula de Luque, an avowed supporter of the Kirchners, was brought in to take over the film because the previous director’s version reportedly wasn’t adulatory enough. (The producers, a lawmaker and a publicist, refuse to publicly discuss why they changed directors.) De Luque insists the documentary isn’t just for true believers, but it’s difficult to see who else might be interested in an account that so clearly bends history around uncomfortable truths. The story of Néstor’s rise from mayor to governor and then president is told through interviews with family members, political leaders and regular people whom Néstor helped, usually by giving them a job, and is interspersed with old home videos and images of his native Patagonia. The film conveniently sidesteps how Kirchners built a small fortune in Patagonia during the worst years of the 1976-83 military dictatorship and how they forged an alliance in the 1990s with the government of President Carlos Menem, now the scapegoat for all the country’s economic ills. Perhaps only truly novel aspect of the film, besides never-before-aired footage of the young Kirchners in love, is Máximo Kirchner’s starring role. Although the presidential couple’s eldest son founded a progovernment youth group that has taken on a greater political role since Néstor’s death, he has largely avoided spotlight. By paying such attention to him, the documentary seems implicitly to portray Máximo as the natural heir to Kirchner politics. Yet his obvious shortcomings, superficial insights and an uncharismatic persona, belie his prospects. He isn’t ready for primetime, only confirming what has become increasingly evident: Cristina really is alone at the top, and there is no obvious candidate to succeed her in 2015. This may not have been a problem following Néstor’s death, when Argentines rallied around her. But not these days. Her approval ratings are 35 percentage points lower than when she won re-election last year. “Néstor Kirchner, the Movie” is being released two weeks after hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to streets to protest Cristina’s government and just days after opposition unions staged the first general strike of her presidency. The movie may have been born out of grief for the loss of political leader, but viewed in current context of discontent it becomes something else entirely: a final battle cry for a political movement that may be coming to an end. 


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

2 Responses to Néstor Forever

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The Kirchners – Nestor and Cristina – are 100% ‘ Made in Argentina’ product as the tango, dulce de leche and Boca Juniors. The couple enduring capacity to stay in power (2003-2014) reveals two fundamentals flaws of the political and social system. First, independence among the three powers (executive, legislative and judiciary) exist only in paper. The president reins supreme. Political parties and judiciary are only ornaments under a ruthless and powerful executive. Second, Argentines still believe in strong man/woman political leadership embodied by Nestor/Cristina Kirchner and their charismatic guide Juan Domingo Peron. From a political and social standpoint, Argentina continues to live in the past. Regarding the legacy of the Kirchners — including the current documentary of Nestor Kirchner’s life — no danger of being relevant in the future. Similarly to Carlos Menem, Cristina will be spending a lot of time in Buenos Aires courts defending the wealth acquired while in power. Of course, the next president will be defending his shortcomings blaming the problems in the ” herencia maldita ‘ of the Kirchners era. As the old saying goes: Argentina is not difficult to govern. It is inconsequential.


  2. Entrevista a Daniel Politi: (…..) La nota en la que hablé sobre el documental de Néstor Kirchner no fue la primera vez que critiqué al Gobierno. De hecho, desde que empecé a escribir en este blog, mis notas casi siempre tienen algo que ver con políticas del Gobierno ya sea sobre el Big Mac, la inflación, la política de drogas o el control de cambio, para dar unos ejemplos. Y ninguna tuvo la repercusión que tuvo esta nota. Por eso me sorprendió mucho cuando unas horas después de publicada empecé a ver cómo los medios locales la levantaban en sus propios sitios. Pero pensándolo en retrospectiva, el artículo se publicó en un momento en el que justo había mucho interés por la película y yo proponía una contextualización política de su lanzamiento cuando los medios locales, como viven esa realidad diaria, lo trataron más como un evento cinematográfico. Críticos del gobierno usaron la nota para decir que The New York Times había defenestrado la película y los Kirchner pero, como le dije a varias personas en Twitter desde ese entonces, yo no hablo por The New York Times ni por el International Herald Tribune. Era un análisis personal. Claro que, como todo periodista, tengo editores y hay todo un proceso de edición con cada nota, ellos nunca me dicen sobre qué escribir ni qué opinar (…..)



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