In a strongly worded farewell speech to thousands of supporters gathered outside of the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, outgoing president Cristina Fernández touted her own government’s achievements, while criticizing president-elect Mauricio Macri. “We believe in what we have achieved so we need to have a positive attitude to ensure that these things will not be destroyed,” she told a crowd of supporters on Argentina’s most famous square, Plaza de Mayo. Fernández has come under fire for her decision not to attend Macri’s inauguration on Thursday, the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1983 that a president would not attend an elected successor’s inauguration. In the last 10 days, the two were involved in a public spat over where the presidential baton and sash would be handed over, seen by many as a national embarrassment, and which Fernandez implicitly framed as Macri’s fault in her speech. She also took vague shots at “an agenda from the outside being imposed on the region,” probably referring to the US and others which she sees as enemies, meddling in her country’s affairs.
Fernández had dominated the political landscape for the last 12 years, along with her husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner. The two invested strongly in social programs for the poor, while also passing liberal laws, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2010. Fernández, however, was barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term, and her self-chosen successor lost a close November election to Macri, who ran on a neo-liberal agenda. “I am grateful to this government because it gave us back our dignity by helping the poor. It gave us work, opened factories, improved access to public education and healthcare,” Martin Sosa, an 18-year old student and Fernández supporter told The Guardian. “I am worried Macri will undo all this. He represents wealthy people.”
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