Argentinean politics was thrown into turmoil yesterday with the death of ex-president Néstor Kirchner, who suffered a fatal double heart attack in hospital in his native Patagonia. The husband of current incumbent Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, he had been the defining voice in national politics for the last decade.
Sixty-year-old Kirchner died yesterday at around 09.00 Argentinean time, the third occasion in a year that he had been hospitalised following heart complications. In Latin America, reactions to his death were immediate as regional leaders, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, paid tribute to a political strongman who oversaw the immediate fall-out from Argentina’s economic crisis of 2001/2, taking on the IMF and overseeing an impressive economic recovery.
Whilst Cristina is yet to make a public statement, the government announced three days of national mourning on a day when businesses were shut and people away from their desks due to work on a new national census. As dignitaries scrambled to board flights to El Calafate in Patagonia and the national congress organised a memorial, Buenos Aires’ historic Plaza de Mayo – opposite the Casa Rosada palace – filled with people paying tribute. The weekend’s football fixtures were even cancelled, a normally unthinkable gesture.
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