When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Argentina

Cristina Kirchner Has Plenty To Say, Just Not To The Press

Analysis: Whether it is for a factory opening or a ceremony honoring her hero, "Evita," Argentine leader Cristina Kirchner finds plenty of opportunities to speak. Many discourses, but not much dialogue.

Sylvia Colombo

BUENOS AIRES - Argentine President Cristina Kirchner does not give interviews. Nor does she request meetings with ministers. And yet she always makes herself well heard.

Over the past month, the president gave no fewer than 12 speeches. She has no trouble finding occasions to do so, be it the inauguration of a hydroelectric dam, an act on behalf of her deceased husband and presidential predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, or the opening of a new hall in Buenos Aires' Casa Rosada --her executive mansion and office, in honor of her heroine, Evita Peron.

As President Kirchner has isolated herself more and more, talking only to her closest political allies, her speeches have become her primary method of informing even her own ministers about her decisions and policy changes.

Human rights groups, particularly the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, are always in attendance for her speeches. Organization leaders Hebe de Bonafini, 83, and Estela de Carlotto, 81, who have spent decades raising awareness about the thousands of people who disappeared during Argentina's period of military rule, show up every time, even when the topic is completely unrelated.

In mourning since Nestor Kirchner died in October 2010, Cristina keeps a pattern in her speeches. She usually refers to her late husband; compliments what she calls his "model," which includes a heavier presence of the state in economy; attacks mass media and powerful foreign countries; and reinforces the idea that her administration is "national" and "of the people."

Recently, more than 200 journalists gathered for a television show called Periodismo para Todos (Journalism for Everyone) to demand that the president speak with the press. The group included several well-known journalists, including Ricardo Kirschbaum, editor-in-chief of Clarin, the country's largest newspaper. They carried banners saying "we want to ask questions" and "no to the pro-government media."

The group presented 10 questions they would like to ask the president. Among other things, they want her to explain allegations of corruption and influence peddling involving the vice-president, Amado Boudou.

None of their questions were answered. Soon after the program aired, President Kirchner boarded a plane and flew off to Angola.

Photo: Presidencia de la Nacion Argentina

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest