Hard times for a Peronist front lacking a hegemonic leadership, faced with protest marches, a terrible global pandemic and a host of rumours. Here’s some off-the-record input into the government’s thinking.
The powerful La Cámpora youth grouping is careful to avoid direct criticism of the chief of state, mindful of the admonition of their leader, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, not to question President Alberto Fernández. But they feel defrauded by various recent policies, especially Argentina’s criticism of Venezuela.
They also speak of the loyalty Alberto owes to Cristina, mirroring that owed by Héctor Cámpora to movement founder Juan Domingo Perón for making him president in 1973. Their problem is that Alberto Fernández is not Cámpora, nor is Cristina Perón.
A La Cámpora leader occupying an important post in the Buenos Aires provincial government complains that part of the Cabinet has fallen into inaction, saying: “They are like a team which goes out to play thinking of one game and finds themselves playing another for which some are unprepared.”
Meanwhile presidential supporters, transformed into the executives of this multi-Peronist alliance, try to play down the differences with La Cámpora, arguing that in the last fortnight the president has regained leadership. They give three examples: firstly, support for the United Nations statement criticising Venezuela; secondly, launching a panel of dialogue between businessmen and trade unionists; and thirdly, the return to making public health announcements alongside opposition leaders such as City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales.
But at the same time some presidential supporters feel that they are being stalked by Cristina’s followers in order to brainwash their boss. They complain about the youthful Camporistas: “Sometimes they spend more time controlling us in what we do, to see if they can replace us, than on their own work or helping out.”
The most traditional Peronist sectors are reflected by one of the main organisers of today’s trade union rally. “The crisis is not economic,” he maintains, “the crisis is one of political leadership reflecting the economic, social and international crises.”
All three strands of Peronism speaking off the record thus seem more concerned in debating their spaces of power than in taking better advantage of opposition disarray. They are losing a historic opportunity to make the most of this exceptional moment to seek exceptional solutions beyond Argentina’s polarisation.