Saturday, 1 November 2008

Argentine Image: Alfonsin & Kirchner

Pagina/12 published the above image in one of their articles surrounding the 25th anniversary of the return to democracy (here). Is it just me, or is this a very odd picture? It shows Argentine President Christina Kirchner clasping the face of former Argentine President Raul Alfonsin, who headed the first legitimate government after the end of the dictatorship in 1983. Therefore he's been receiving all sorts of attention in the past few weeks, including having a bust unveiled at the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.

We don't see much of Christina's face here, but her pose seems inherently patronising to me. What is she doing, squeezing the cheeks of this old man? This is not a child or someone to be pitied. Alfonsin may, at 81, be getting on a bit, but he practised as a lawyer before having the bravery to take on the Presidency of Argentina at a time when it had been ripped apart by state terrorism, humiliated by a lost war, and impoverished by rampant inflation. He was not a wizard - later in his term, he gave in to military pressure (possibly genuinely believing that another coup was imminent) and introduced amnesty laws and he also ultimately lost the battle against inflation. Nevertheless, most commentators seem to judge him as a basically honest man, he introduced the vitally important truth commission CONADEP and governed during the history-making trial of the junta. So, instead of making coochy-coo noises, perhaps we could afford him some genuine respect?

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