Friday, September 28, 2012
"It isn’t something that I desire nor that depends on me,” she said; she got angry with students that asked questions without concessions
by Silvia Pisani
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts.- It was, possibly, one of the most uncomfortable days she’s had.
Pressured by students of Harvard University who asked about everything, from inflation to her personal fortune, Cristina Kirchner put in doubt last night for the first time the possibility of a reform of the Constitution to seek a possible re-election.
"It’s not treated as something this president desires or which depends on me. It’s not treated as something I want, but something I can or should do. It’s an abstract issue because the Constitution does not allow it.” And she added: “This (reform) is not in my jurisdiction, nor that of only one party.”
It was in a session where she, at times, showed anger and even disqualified as “not academic” for the School of Government at the university, and was bothered by the “low level” of the questions from the students. “These are more for La Matanza, not for Harvard!” she said.
"Another one coming with the little piece of paper. Are you reading it because you have no memory?” “Why are you repeating what they say to you?” she said during her presentation.
She began the night saying how “proud” she felt to be there. But her mood varied: she had to ask questions about her personal wealth, about her “lack of self-criticism” and the lack of dialogue with other political sectors or with the press, according to the question of one student, Martin Molina of Venezuela.
In any case, she said that her “last press conference” was when Hillary Clinton went to Buenos Aires, two years ago (in reality she held another one later, on August 15, 2011, after winning the primaries).
"I don’t have to give press conferences. My officials are for that. I have to govern. I don’t know who says to you I don’t speak with the press,” she said to Molina, whom she discredited “for having read the question.”
Then she denied there is a trap on the dollar. “That is a malicious media term,” she argued. She explained that her obligation was “to care for the reserves” and that access to currency was adequate.
"All of you are in the United States and studying at Harvard. Does it seem right to you that you can talk about not having dollars?” she responded to Jorge Masal, one of the Argentines that could pose one of the first questions. “You see already, you can travel and very well. None of you have problems with dollars,” she said.
Then, in a sudden change of tone, she said that she wasn’t seeking to blame anyone and that she “understands” the culture of the dollar in the country. “I myself had a fixed-rate investment in that currency,” she said.
One by one, dozens of students threshed questions that constituted the debate that the President does not grant in Argentina. “I’ve explained my wealth many times before the judiciary and the presentations were accepted,” she answered when it was asked that she explain her fortune. “I’ve been a successful lawyer,” she said.
The meeting began with a ‘cacerolazo’ protest at the door of Harvard. A little more than 50 people were waiting with pots and placards against crime, inflation and in defense of the Constitution. When she arrived, almost an hour late, many had already gone.
"Pardon me, but it was because of the traffic in New York,” she said, apologizing at the start. Dean David Ellwood set the rules for the “freedom of expression” of the school. “Here, speakers answer questions and the audience listens with respect.”
She then implicitly alluded to the recent protests. “It’s impossible that this enormous transformation is not generating refractory sectors, or that there won’t be people against it,” she said.
"Argentina is not Disneyland,” she conceded. Another asked her about the dubious statistics around crime, inflation and poverty.
But the President responded with a long explanation about how the media misrepresents things. Insistent, the student charged back with asking her if she didn’t think it was time that she “engaged in self-criticism.”
She’d been preceded by the protests that her presence generated on the Harvard web page. “You engage in dialogue abroad, but not in your country,” was the reproach. That added to the discomfort that she felt over questions on inflation and the refusal to talk to the press that came a day earlier, at Georgetown University. “Today I prefer not to talk about Argentina by about international policy,” she announced.
More than 2800 people signed up with the intention to participate. The vast majority were left outside. The press was also not given access to the room and was placed in an adjacent room. “You may not ask questions, only the students,” they were warned.
With a red-colored card, like the IMF threatened to apply to Argentina, the “vulture funds” arrived among the first. “Raise this card if you want to ask a question,” said the text from American Task Force Argentina (ATFA), the main pressure group of holders of bonds in default.
Right away, the distribution of the little cards created a debate along the long line of those waiting to enter. Those up front had the luck of seeking Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pass by, after her speech two hours earlier. To the desperation of the Secret Service that escorted her, the Nobel Peace Prize winner stepped out of her car, walked up to the sidewalk and greeted the dozens of people who greeted her. Many of them cried.
The admissions that were not reserves were distributed to the public through a lottery. “I didn’t make it in,” said Karina Zurcbart, an Argentine that, however, was happy to have seen the Burmese leader. “She impresses me with her simplicity and her courage,” she said. For her, it made her day.
To view this article in Spainsh, visit: “La Presidenta tomó distancia de la reforma de la Constitución”