Thousands are rallying in Argentina's capital to support former President Cristina Fernandez as she faces a hearing on corruption allegations Wednesday. The mobilization's hashtag #CaravanDelPueblo was also trending worldwide.
A judge has opened an investigation into her alleged involvement in the sale of U.S. "dollar futures contracts" at below-market rates by the central bank during her administration.
Speaking outside the courthouse in Buenos Aires where she defended herself earlier Wednesday, Fernandez told cheering supporters that the charges against her were politically motivated and an attack on Argentina as a whole.
"Don’t see this as an attack against a person," said Fernandez. "We reflect together, remembering history and see that see that this is not the only case against a former president."
The #CaravanDelPueblo of the #TodosConCristina protests in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. | Photo: Twitter / @Adrian_Grana
She said that the media, especially in Argentina, was complicit in covering up dictatorship but is only "trying to block the sun with their hands."
Fernandez stressed the role of social movements in changing politics and spoke against the judiciary bending to the will of opponents.
Rather than allowing themselves to give into anger and be divided by politics, she said the Argentine people should “create a citizen’s front in which we ask, ‘How are you doing, worse or better than before?’ That is the point of unity for Argentines."
The current government is trying to roll back her progressive programs and put her in prison, she said, "but they cannot silence me."
The crowd yelled back, "Your people are here, Cristina," and other chants were made against the current neoliberal President Mauricio Macri.
The former leader has not been charged and according to analysts, and even some of her opponents, the accusations cannot qualify as a crime since the millions in losses, which are argued in the indictment, were caused after conservative Macri assumed power.
Huge crowds of followers have been expressing support since Fernandez arrived in Buenos Aires Monday ahead of testifying over accusations of “public administration fraud.”
“Kirchneristas” led at least three major marches with motorcades near the courthouse.
"There are mobilizations throughout the country,” said deputy of the Front for Victory Juliana Di Tullio to teleSUR. “People are coming from the provinces with their own cars, so it is very difficult to stop it."
Dario Carassale, councilman for the Tupac Amaru neighborhood organization, was one of the hundreds that camped out all Tuesday night. He did it to support the social programs introduced by Fernandez such as better pensions and the wider implementation of public universities, he told teleSUR.
The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have also been protesting what they see as a media campaign against the former president in order to distract the public from the Panama Papers scandal that has embroiled Macri.
Fernandez faced the press ahead of the hearing. | Photo: minutouno.com
The poverty level in Argentina has risen since Macri took office, as has inflation and the cost of basic services.
As one of his first neoliberal reforms, President Macri decided to devalue the currency from nine to 15 pesos per dollar, thus preventing the purchase of dollars in the “future scheme,” which was an autonomous decision by the central bank.
"I have never seen so many disasters produced in 120 days," said Fernandez, referencing Macri's term, in front of the courthouse.
Supporters of Fernandez believe that the investigation is being used by the Macri government as a form of political persecution. Other defendants include the former president of the central bank, Alejandro Vanoli, and the rest of the board of the monetary authority.
A former board member of the central bank accused the judge, Claudio Bonadio, of impartiality, but he refused to step down from the case.
Former Minister of the Economy Axel Kicillof, one of the 13 summoned by the judge after a wide police operation, said “there is no crime” in the “future scheme,” which is common practice in currency markets around the world.
"This, like other causes, are aimed at trying to wipe Kirchnerismo from the national political landscape," said Oscar Natalich, director of the Center for Economic and Social Research. "Obviously, they want to see her in jail, just as they want to do in Brazil with Dilma (Rousseff) and Lula (da Silva), and they tried to pit her against (President Nicolas) Maduro in Venezuela," said the academic.