Cristina Fernández de Kirchner: arrest after an attempt to shoot the Argentine vice-president | Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

A man was arrested after pointing a handgun point-blank at Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchnerin what the president said was an assassination attempt.

Fernández de Kirchner only survived because the gun – which was loaded with five bullets – did not fire, President Alberto Fernández said.

The incident, in which Fernández de Kirchner appeared unharmed, occurred as she greeted supporters outside her home in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires at 9 p.m. Thursday.

“A man pointed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger,” the president said on a national broadcast. “Cristina is still alive because, for some reason yet to be confirmed, the gun…did not fire.”

He called it “the most serious incident since we reclaimed democracy” in 1983 and urged political leaders and society at large to dismiss the incident.

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Argentinian newspaper Clarín reported that a 35-year-old Brazilian was arrested at the scene.

The dramatic events were captured by television cameras outside Fernández de Kirchner’s home, where supporters had gathered for days to protest the corruption charges against her in court.

Footage shows the man pushing through supporters, pointing a gun at Fernández de Kirchner’s face and apparently attempting a shot, which appears to have failed. According to reports, the man pointed the gun at Fernández de Kirchner but did not fire. The two-time former president, Argentina’s leading political figure, can be seen reacting, covering her face and ducking. She would have been unharmed.

Security Minister Aníbal Fernández told local news channel C5N that a man had been arrested. “A person who was identified by his relatives who had a firearm was detained by [the vice-president’s] security personnel. They put it aside, found the weapon, and now it has to be analyzed,” he said.

Fernández said the gun had five bullets “and did not fire even though the trigger was pulled”. He decreed a national holiday on Friday to give people time to “express themselves in defense of life, democracy and in solidarity with our vice-president”.

The level of verbal abuse has increased alarmingly among opposition politicians in Argentina this year, mainly around corruption charges filed against Fernández de Kirchner in court. Some extreme opposition politicians have called for the death penalty to be reintroduced for the vice president.

After the incident, a statement from Fernández de Kirchner’s Frente de Todos party said: “The incitement to hatred emanating from different spheres of political, media and judicial power against the former president has only led to a climate of extreme violence”.

Economy Minister Sergio Massa called the incident an “assassination attempt”.

“When hate and violence prevail over debate, societies are destroyed and situations like this arise: attempted assassination,” he said in a tweet.

Former President Mauricio Macri demanded an immediate investigation into this “extremely serious” attack, “which fortunately did not harm the Vice President”.

“They wanted to kill [Kirchner]tweeted Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero. “This is the most serious act of political violence since the return of democracy.”

Fernández de Kirchner, a powerful and controversial figure in Argentina, is embroiled in long-running accusations that she favored a close ally’s construction company for road contracts during his two terms as president from 2007 to 2015. in his native province of Santa Cruz.

Prosecutor Diego Luciani last week asked for a 12-year sentence if convicted, prompting widespread protests across Argentina, including outside Fernández de Kirchner’s home in Buenos Aires. She responded by saying the charges were politically motivated and that she faces “a judicial and media firing squad.”

Fernández de Kirchner is expected to run for the Senate and possibly for the presidency in next year’s general election.

Reports that the alleged culprit was Brazilian sent shockwaves through Brazil where fears are growing that the extremist rhetoric of its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, could inspire some kind of violent incident.

Brazil is a month away from a presidential election in which Bolsonaro will face his bitter rival, the leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula is said to have taken to wearing a bulletproof vest at rallies for fear of a similar attack from right-wing extremists.

Last week, the Guardian saw federal police officers checking trash cans for explosive devices before Lula, who is an ally of Fernández de Kirchner, gave a press conference for foreign media in São Paulo .

In 2018, Bolsonaro notoriously called on his supporters to “strafe” their opponents on the left.

News of the events caused outrage across the region.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez said his country was “appalled” and called the incident an “attempted murder”.

“Hate will not prevail,” tweeted Sacha Llorenti, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the United Nations.

Gleisi Hoffman, president of the Workers’ Party of Brazil, said the attack was “the result of political violence and hate speech”.

“Thank God she came out unscathed,” wrote Lula, who blamed the attack on “a criminal fascist.”

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