The vice president of Argentina was unharmed in an assassination attempt outside her home Thursday in Buenos Aires. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was returning to her residence when a man approached her out of a large crowd and pulled the trigger of a handgun at her head, but the weapon misfired, according to multiple reports.
Authorities were later able to take the alleged shooter, Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel, into custody. The 35-year-old Brazilian man lives in Argentina, according to The New York Times. Footage shared to Twitter shows the terrifying attempted assassination.
The Times reported that the 69-year-old politician’s supporters have rallied outside her home in recent weeks as she navigates an ongoing court case, in which she is accused of funneling state funds for a public project to a family friend. As people in the crowd yelled “Cristina! Cristina!,” a gun is pointed and the trigger is pulled directly in front of Kirchner’s face.
The vice president flinched and crouched down on the street momentarily, while those surrounding her processed the shock of the split-second moment. “Get him!” someone yelled, as one video account of the scene cut away abruptly. Shortly after the incident, Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández addressed the nation.
“Cristina is still alive because, for reasons that have not been confirmed technically, the weapon, which was loaded with five bullets, did not fire,” Fernández said. “This is the most serious event since we recovered our democracy.” The country’s military junta and pathway to democratic rule occurred in 1983.
The president continued, “We can disagree, we can have deep disagreements, but in a democratic society hate speech cannot take place because it breeds violence and there is no possibility of violence coexisting with democracy. Our vice president has been attacked and social peace has been disturbed.”
Fernandez then announced an investigation would commence, and that Friday would be a national holiday in “solidarity” with the vice president, according to NBC News. The left-leaning Kirchner, who was president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015 and was the country’s first lady for four years previously, was returning to her home after appearing in court, where she is on trial on corruption charges, per the BBC.
She has already faced numerous corruption trials following her presidency. The brazen assasination attempt on the polarizing leader prompted Sergio Massa, Argentina’s economy minister to speak out late Thursday night. “When hate and violence prevail over the debate of ideas, they destroy societies and generate situations like today’s: an assassination attempt,” he wrote on Twitter.
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