Cristina Fernández de Kirchner didn’t wait long to respond to her corruption conviction on Tuesday, alleging in an hour-long livestream broadcast that her opponents want her “dead or in prison” and declaring that she would not run for political office in the 2023 elections.
"This conviction, compatriots, is not because of the laws of the Constitution, the penal code or administrative laws. This is much simpler, this is a parallel state and judicial mafia," alleged the Senate chief, who said Monday that the court’s rulings were pre-ordained.
Argentina’s vice-president spoke minutes after she was sentenced to six years in prison and was given a lifetime ban from being in office. Fernández de Kirchner is not expected to serve the term for the foreseeable future given her immunity as vice-president and head of the Senate.
The news that she won’t be a candidate for any political position when her term ends in December 2023 came as a surprise to her supporters and rivals, given that the former president had recently hinted at a run.
“The true punishment isn’t the jail time, but the ban from being in public office,” declared the Frente de Todos leader.
"I'm going to do the same thing I did in December 2015 when [then-presidential candidate Daniel] Scioli came to me to propose being a candidate for deputy,” said the former head of state in a live televised disclaimer on her official Youtube channel.
"I am not going to subject the political force that gave me the honour of twice being president and once vice-president to being mistreated in an electoral period with a condemned candidate," continued the former president, who then namechecked Grupo Clarín boss Héctor Magnetto, one of her fiercest critics.
"I am not going to be a candidate. This is very good news for you Magnetto. Do you know why? Because on December 10, 2023, I will not be a candidate, I will not have privileges, I will not be vice-president. So you will be able to give the order to your henchmen at the Cassation [Court] and the Supreme Court to put me in prison. I'm not going to be a candidate for anything, neither for president nor for senator," she revealed.
"My name will not be on any ballot. I finish on December 10, and I'm going back to my house, the same house I left on 25 May 2003 to accompany my partner," she concluded, alluding to her late husband, former president Néstor Kirchner.
Reiterating her claim that she is a victim of judicial and political persecution, Fernández de Kirchner said that “a judicial mafia” and “parallel state” that governs Argentina is behind the conviction.
"Mafia and parallel state. That is what condemned me today. This is the real sentence: perpetual disqualification from holding public and elected office. This is what they wanted. They will be able to put me in prison on December 10, 2023," she concluded.
The vice-president also trained fire on the judges, media entrepreneurs, business chiefs and politicians involved in the recent scandal over chat messages revealing the attempted cover-up of a secret private trip to Lago Escondido in Bariloche.
Fernández de Kirchner’s decision to not be a candidate may weaken the ruling coalition in the general elections next year, but it may also galvanise her core base of supporters, giving her time to prepare her next steps, according to Ignacio Labaqui, an analyst for Medley Global Advisors in Buenos Aires.
“We’re still a long way off from when candidates must be announced, so she could always change her mind,” Labaqui said. “But from a political standpoint it’s a wise move, because she’s saying ‘I’m not afraid of going to jail, and I don’t need any sort of immunity that comes from an elected position, so I’m not afraid of you.’”