Argentine Leader to Undergo Head Surgery

Argentine Leader to Undergo Head Surgery

(AP) Argentine leader to undergo head surgery
Associated Press
Argentina’s president will undergo surgery on Tuesday to surgically remove blood between her brain and skull that has been causing new and worrying symptoms, her physicians said.

The doctors who discovered the subural hematoma had ordered Cristina Fernandez on Saturday to rest for a month. In some patients, such blood clots reabsorb by themselves over time.

But the situation became more urgent after Fernandez felt a weakness and numbness in her upper left arm Sunday evening, according to an announcement from the Fundacion Favaloro, one of Argentina’s top cardiology hospitals.

The surgery involves drilling small holes through the skull to remove the remnants of blood that the presidency said was the result of a still unexplained blow to her head on August 12.

Earlier Monday, even as Fernandez returned to the hospital for pre-surgical exams, her Vice President Amado Boudou made no mention of the planned operation. He said in a speech that top officials would run the country as a team “while she gets the rest she deserves.”

What he didn’t say _ and no other official ventured to guess _ was whether Fernandez will formally delegate her executive powers during the surgery, or while she recovers. Boudou is under investigation for alleged corruption and illegal enrichment and currently has one of the worst images among Argentine politicians.

Even Sen. Anibal Fernandez, who often acts as a government spokesman, told the Telefe channel earlier Monday that “We don’t have clear idea what will happen.”

A three-paragraph statement issued over the weekend by the president’s medical team said the injury was caused by a blow to the head on August 12, but that the cause of her headaches wasn’t discovered until Saturday. That statement, read by her spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro after she had spent nine hours in the hospital, provided no more details about the accident or the injury it caused.

The president arrived at the hospital Monday after remaining secluded in the presidential residence through the weekend with her children, Maximo and Florencia Kirchner.

Questions left by The Associated Press with Scoccimarro were not immediately returned.

Argentina’s constitution provides for, but does not require, a formal transfer of power in case of health problems, said Daniel Sabsay, a constitutional lawyer. A full medical leave would require congressional approval, but short of that, “she alone decides, according to the problem she faces and her doctors’ advice, if she needs to delegate some powers to the vice president,” he told Radio Continental.

The president’s critics said, however, that the government should be more transparent about her health. The statement issued Saturday raised many unanswered questions and contradicted earlier claims about the nature of her hospital visits.

President Fernandez is such an outsized figure in Argentine politics that it’s difficult to imagine the government without her at its center. Now she’ll be off the campaign trail three weeks before elections that could loosen the ruling party’s hold on Congress.

Before his speech, Boudou and top Cabinet members made a show of unity as they delivered some squad cars to the border police. They were joined by one of the president’s would-be successors in the 2015 elections, Buenos Aires Gov. Daniel Scioli, and her hand-picked candidate leading the ruling party’s congressional slate on Oct. 27, Martin Insaurraulde.

Kirchnerism “is more united than ever,” Scioli said. “We want to reassure the people that this team is united and determined.”


Almudena Calatrava contributed to this report.