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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 20-03-2023 12:56

La Cámpora's generational transition

The leaders of La Cámpora, the Kirchnerite political grouping founded by Máximo Kirchner, are getting older. A new generation, led by new secretary-general Lucía Cámpora, are taking over at the top as the organisation refreshes its youth appeal.

La Cámpora, born in the heat of the political process beginning with Néstor Kirchner and developing under the wing of the state during the two terms of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government, has reached a turning point in its not-so-short history: the transfer of the group’s secretary-general, once in the hands of Andrés ‘Cuervo’ Larroque, one of its historic leaders, to Buenos Aires City lawmaker Lucía Cámpora, an exponent of the new generation of Camporista leaders who are in their 30s.

The Kirchnerite group’s founding generation – made up of the leader Máximo Kirchner, Larroque, current Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro, Quilmes Mayra Mendoza and Senator Mariano Recalde – are all aged between 40 and 50. The organisation’s ‘reprofiling’ is a bid to recover its youthful appeal, the driving-force in the years when La Cámpora rapidly became the largest political activist movement in Latin America.

La Cámpora's immediate connection with Argentina’s youngest was one of the organisation's main assets in its early years but the natural ageing of its main cadres has contributed to the instability of the political scene. Kirchnerismo was off centre-stage during the Mauricio Macri government and has been in a constant state of tension with Alberto Fernández’s government. This has gradually lessened its appeal, especially with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a state which began to be seen by some young people as an oppressor of freedoms ("stay at home"). The rhetoric of militant rebellion ceased being the sole possession of Kirchnerismo and came to be adopted by the liberal-libertarian movement.    

After the electoral defeat of 2015, La Cámpora’s leadership added new faces as some of its leaders obtained important positions in a new Peronist coalition. Fernanda Raverta (now ANSeS social security administration), Luana Volnovich (who heads the PAMI healthcare scheme for the elderly) and Senator Anabel Fernández Sagasti joined the party, and leaders such as José Ottavis and current Environment Minister Juan Cabandié departed to take other paths. The new additions, however, were also in their 40s and, given their other roles, there is less and less room for them to be involved in the day-to-day running of the group.

Against this backdrop, a decision has been taken to pass the baton of leadership to a new generation of activists, expressed primarily in the figure of Lucía Cámpora, a 32-year-old City lawmaker who also has the added bonus of being a "pure blood" Camporista: as the grand-niece of former president Héctor Cámpora, the ephemeral former president to whom the organisation pays homage by bearing his name. Lineage and youth are assured.

Lucía is also a woman and a feminist, identity traits which La Cámpora seeks to empower. The group was not born "feminist" but from its beginnings had a branch defending women's rights. With the passage of time, this identity has spread to the whole collective, to the point that today it is an inseparable and unwavering principle of the group.

A former secretary of the Juventud Peronista Nacional (“National Peronist Youth”), Lucía Cámpora is often seen on social networks demonstrating together with her compañeras in the City Legislature, such as Ofelia Fernández (Frente Patria Grande) and Maru Bielli (El Hormiguero), with whom she forms a sort of millennial brigade of hardcore Kirchnerites. Skilled in political communication, with a relaxed, canchero style, the lawmaker uses her Instagram and Twitter accounts to transmit messages directly to those interested in "national and popular" causes.

Meanwhile Larroque, who serves as Buenos Aires Province’s community development minister, has taken on a new challenge as coordinator of ‘La Patria es el Otro,’ a conglomerate of ‘maverick Kirchnerite’ groups (as he himself calls them) which do not feel represented by the organic verticalism of La Cámpora.

His entourage denied to Noticias Argentinas that the change means Larroque has left La Cámpora but he has clearly embarked upon a search for his own political construction after years of being subsumed to the rigid structure led by Máximo Kirchner.

Larroque expresses a line of the most militant Kirchnerite thought, an internal line that in La Cámpora coexists with others such as that expressed by ‘Wado’ De Pedro, a more conciliatory figure, who recently raised eyebrows by being photographed with executives of the Clarín and La Nación newspapers at Expoagro. Camporistas and Kirchneristas took note of this gesture and will present the bill in due course.

According to Noticias Argentinas, La Patria es el Otro is not a new grouping but a "round table of groupings," many of them with a long history of activism. They are not going to dissolve and merge into a broader popular grouping, but rather come together to coordinate actions, while maintaining their own distinct identities.

"Each has their own story, but sometimes they get together to fight a particular battle and then go on with their lives," said one source.

La Patria es el Otro includes organisations such as Kolina, Peronismo Militante, Descamisados, Corriente Militante Lealtad, Corriente Nacional de la Militancia and Corriente Peronista 13 de Abril, among others.

In truth, the group’s premiere was in mid-2021, but it did not become known as a movement until this month's event in Avellaneda,when Kirchnerite and trade union groups demonstrated against the “proscription" or alleged ban on Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner running for office. 

The group’s next massive mobilisation was scheduled for yesterday’s commemoration of the anniversary of the last military coup of 1976. Initially, the rally was called against the vice-president's "proscription" but the idea was walked back at the express request of the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group, Estela Barnes de Carlotto, who demanded that the historical march for Memory, Truth and Justice should not clash with the demand.

But in any case, at least among the Kirchnerite columns who plan to march, it has not been ruled out that after the rally at the Plaza de Mayo, one or two groups may head off to the Palacio de Tribunales courthouses for a second march.

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by Sebastián Hadida, Noticias Argentinas

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