Socialist former President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner waved her middle finger at a crowd of supporters of the nation’s new president, Javier Milei, on Sunday, a gesture reportedly in response to jeers.
Fernández de Kirchner served as vice president of the country, and thus the president of the Senate, for the past four years, ending her term at Sunday’s inauguration ceremony. While appearing friendly with Milei personally, sharing laughs during the swearing-in ceremony, she took a moment to publicly insult the thousands of Argentines gathered in Buenos Aires for the inauguration with a vulgar gesture.
Walking into the Argentine Congress, the outgoing vice president waved to the crowd before appearing to hear jeers and changing her open hand into a one-fingered fist. Reports in Argentine media did not specify what appeared to have angered her, though all reported some form of insult or jeer in her direction.
Watch the video here:
Así llegó Cristina Kirchner al Congreso para la asunción de Milei: de rojo pic.twitter.com/4V0kilvjzf
— TN – Todo Noticias (@todonoticias) December 10, 2023
The Argentine newspaper Clarín reported that some of the thousands of attendees at the inauguration were chanting “Cristina’s going to jail!” but did not clarify if any of them were in Fernández de Kirchner’s earshot.
The gesture elicited widespread disgust in Argentine media, which branded it “detestable,” “trashy,” “gratuitous and unnecessary.”
Milei’s inauguration ended nearly 20 years of “Kirchnerism,” the hard-left political movement that evolved out of Peronism and is named after Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband, former President Néstor Kirchner. Except for the term of center-right former President Mauricio Macri, from 2015 to 2019, the Kirchners or their figureheads governed Argentina from 2003 to 2023.
In his inauguration speech, Milei – speaking before both Fernández de Kirchner and his predecessor, now-former President Alberto Fernández (no relation) – declared, “no government has received a worse inheritance than what we are getting.”
“For over 100 years, politicians have insisted in defending a model that the only thing it has generated is poverty, stagnation, and misery,” Milei asserted, condemning his predecessors. “A model that considers the task of a politician to direct the lives of individuals in all facets and spheres possible. A model that sees the state as a war booty to share among friends.”
Prior to the speech, however, Milei had to interact with Fernández and Fernández de Kirchner for the formality of being sworn in and receiving the traditional artifacts of the president of Argentina, the presidential sash and staff. Milei chose to have a staff personalized for him, emblazoned with the likenesses of his four cloned dogs. Milei and Fernández de Kirchner appeared to share a moment in which she was amused by the images of the dogs.
Fernández de Kirchner has faced widespread legal woes, hence the chants hoping for her to go to prison. In December 2022, an Argentine federal court sentenced the then-vice president to six years in prison for various acts of corruption. The court found her guilty of granting lucrative public works contracts to a close friend, defrauding the Argentine State for upwards of $1 billion. As she was both vice president and president of the Senate at the time, Fernández de Kirchner enjoyed legal immunity and did not have to serve her time.
In late November, however, a federal appeals court reversed the dismissal of a separate case against Fernández de Kirchner, reviving the possibility that she may serve time in prison. That case involves accusations against Fernández de Kirchner on charges of money laundering.
Alberto Fernández and Fernández de Kirchner concluded their terms at Javier Milei’s inauguration on Sunday. Milei is an economist and television commentator by trade who identifies as an anti-establishment, populist libertarian. Before his inauguration on Sunday, the only political position he had held was his seat in the Argentine Congress, which he won in 2021. Milei founded his political party, Liberty Advances, that year, and ended a 40-year streak of Peronists and related socialists controlling the Argentine Senate. Milei campaigned on a promise of solving the current economic crisis, the worst in the history of Argentina, with mass privatization programs, reduced government intervention in the economy, and the adoption of the U.S. dollar as a national currency.