Mauricio Macri officially closed his campaign this Thursday before a huge crowd at his final '#SíSePuede' rally in Córdoba, the region that swept him to victory in the 2015 presidential election.
Flanked by his wife, Juliana Awada, his running-mate, Peronist senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto, and national lawmaker Mario Negri, the president took to the stage in the provincial capital to deliver his last message to supporters before Sunday's election.
Macri criticised his Frente a Todos rivals, telling supporters that “we must not listen to those who destroyed Argentina.”
“We cannot let difficulties make us doubt everything we’ve already accomplished,” he declared.
Back for the future
The night started with Luis Juez, who occupies the fifth slot on the Juntos por el Cambio's slate for national deputies in the province, opening the stage at around 7.30pm.
“For the cat to win, even the dogs must vote,” he told the audience, referencing Macri’s famous – and somewhat derogatory – nickname, “el gato.”
As supporters gathered, chants of “Sí, se puede” echoed down Boulevard San Juan, ending at the corner of Avenidas Vélez Sarsfield and Hipólito Yrigoyen, where a stage was set up to host the incumbent.
Symbolically, Macri chose to hold his last of pre-election rally at the same stage he closed his 2015 campaign. As he walked down toward the stage, Macri was reportedly heard mocking Peronism and its followers, asking: “Where are the colectivos (“buses”)? Did you guys come alone, no-one asked you anything in exchange for coming?”
The campaign closure started with speeches by some of Macri’s biggest supporters and Juntos por el Cambio party mates: City Mayor of Córdoba Rámon Mestre opened the night, followed by Senators Luis Naidenoff and Hernán Lombardi. Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales and Corrientes Governor Gustavo Valdés were also in attendance.
Running mate Pichetto took the stage to say some of the hardest words of the night. In no way shying away from talking about Alberto Fernández and her running-mate, the divisive former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, he criticised violent protests that broken out in Tucúman at a Frente a Todos rally earlier in the day.
“People close to Cristina Fernández [de Kirchner] want to dominate the judicial power (...)," Pichetto told the crowd. "We don’t want violence like that of Tucúman, where fights, and violence with sticks broke out.”
“We don’t want to humiliate Córdoba like Cristina Fernández de Kirchner did, who abandoned the province," he said, referencing 2008 protests sparked by a shift in agricultural policy.
"Córdoba kneels to no-one,” he exclaimed to cheers from the crowd.
Supporters at the rally held up Argentinian flags and signs in support of the current president. Despite the president's resounding 16-point loss in the August PASO primaries, the atmosphere was one of liveliness and hope.
The president said he still remained hopeful. He talked of not only turning around the initial votes, but also “a history of frustration and lies. ”
Macri also referenced a potential second-round vote, acknowledging that a straight-off win in the October 27 first round did not seem feasible.
“This doesn’t end here. We have one more stop: October 27 and November 24 [run-off], in which we need to consolidate the vote with this hope and conviction,” he told the audience.
A personal touch
The atmosphere at the rally was one of family; with key ministers including Guillermo Dietrich and arcos Peña dancing to cuarteto, the traditional Cordobese rhythm, as they waited for Macri’s arrival.
Awada also surprised the audience with a couple of words before the closure.
“What an amazing energy here tonight! Thank you to all of you who joined us in rallies across the country. We’re [all] joined by the same values, with respect and love,” she said, in her first address to a '#SīSePuede' rally.
As his speech came to a close, Macri addressed the public. “Strength, because it is possible and with God it is even more!” he said, adding that “[this] heart grows because of your love and strength.”