From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Argentine President Announces Reelection Bid
Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced Tuesday she will run for reelection in October. Fernández, who has led Argentina since 2007, stated her decision was based on “a strong sense of political and personal responsibility.” Given her current high popularity, many analysts see her as well placed to win reelection.
Sec. Clinton Joins CentralAm Leaders at Guatemalan Security Summit
In a trip aimed at supporting Central American efforts to rein in drug cartels, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head the U.S. delegation to Guatemala City for the Central American Integration System’s summit on security, kicking off June 22. Assistant Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs Arturo Valenzuela and Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield will also attend and will meet with seven regional presidents, including heads of state from Central America, Colombia, and Mexico. The United States has already pledged $200 million to support security initiatives in Central America and is not expected to pledge additional funds at the summit.
In a related story, The Washington Post takes an in-depth look at security challenges faced at the porous Guatemalan-Mexican border.
AQ regrets to share the news that former President of Argentina Néstor Kirchner passed away at his home in the southern Argentine town of El Calafate in Patagonia early this morning after suffering an apparent heart attack, the government reports. Kirchner, Argentina’s president from 2003-2007, and husband to current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had undergone two medical procedures to his heart in the past year. Reports stated that Kirchner was accompanied by his wife at the time of his death and that attempts to resuscitate him by medical personnel called to the scene failed.
Kirchner’s death marks the end of a career in which he became the name and face of the modern Peronist movement. Prior to assuming the presidency, Kirchner had served as mayor of Río Gallegos, capital of Santa Cruz Province, before becoming governor of the province from 1991 to 2003. Following his tenure as President, he was elected to be National Deputy of Argentina for the province of Buenos Aires for the term ending in 2013. He was also serving as Secretary General of the Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR) having been appointed to the post this past May.
Néstor Kirchner was 60 years old.
(Homepage photo taken June 15, 2010 and courtesy of Santiago Armas/Presidencia de la República, Ecuador)
El próximo 28 de junio se realizarán en Argentina las próximas elecciones legislativas. En estas elecciones hay mucho en juego y es una época muy politizada. En este contexto, se ha reavivó hace algunas semanas un viejo debate. Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni, Ministro de la Corte de Suprema de Justicia de la Nación, se pronunció públicamente por una profunda reforma institucional que lleve al país a un sistema parlamentarista. Desde hace tiempo, el magistrado argumenta que el presidencialismo es un sistema muy rígido y que se encuentra agotado. Zaffaroni entiende que el parlamentarismo es una manera de democratizar el poder y así prevenir graves conflictos.
Esta discusión no es nueva. Durante la década del 1980, el Consejo para la consolidación de la democracia—un organismo creado por el ex-presidente Raúl Alfonsín—emitió dictámenes sobre el tema que finalmente terminaron de inspirar el Pacto de Olivos y la reforma constitucional de 1994. En esa reforma fueron introducidas algunas instituciones de origen parlamentarista, como por ejemplo la Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros.
Last Saturday, former President of Argentina Néstor Kirchner formally launched his campaign for a congressional seat, a move seen by many as a bid to rejuvenate the sagging popularity of the current president — his wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Kirchner, who was widely popular as president from 2003 to 2007, hopes to parlay the good will he built up when he led Argentina's strong recovery from the 2001-02 economic meltdown to shore up his wife's support and his legacy. "We either return to having thousands of unemployed and the destruction of our national industry, or we defend this model that began to change the history of our country", said Kirchner to his supporters last night.
The conflict with farmers since a year ago and the effects of the global financial crisis have battered Fernandez's standing. Her popularity has sunk to 30 percent down from 50 percent in the early days of her presidency.
Kirchner is confident that the Peronist coalition will maintain its majority when voters elect half the 256-member Chamber of Deputies and a third of the 72-member Senate on June 28.