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Assassination attempt against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, vice-president of Argentina

Fernández was only saved by the gun jamming as tensions explode over the economic crisis in the South American country.

Argentina's Vice-President Cristina Fernandez (C) -- on trial for alleged corruption -- greets supporters demonstrating outside her residence in Buenos Aires, on August 29, 2022. - Fernandez de Kirchner, 69, is accused of fraudulently awarding public works contracts in her stronghold in Patagonia, and prosecutors have asked that she face 12 years in jail and a lifetime ban from politics. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP) (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images)

A man has been arrested after trying to assassinate the vice-president of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. According to the Argentine channel C5N, the attacker is a 35-year-old Brazilian citizen with a criminal record for improper use of weapons.

As can be seen in the video captured by Argentine public television, the accused managed to aim the weapon and pulled the trigger twice, but the pistol didn’t fire, saving the life of Cristina Fernández.

The president of Argentina, Ángel Fernández, has described the assassination attempt as “the most serious in the democratic history” of the South American country, an event of “extreme institutional and human gravity”. Argentina has been a democracy since 1983 after the military dictatorship collapsed after the country’s defeat in the Falklands war against the United Kingdom.

In response, President Fernández decreed this Friday, September 2 as a holiday, without classes or sporting events, so that citizens can express their defense of democracy. Some groups have already called demonstrations in solidarity with the vice president.

“We can disagree, we can have deep disagreements, but hate speech cannot take place because it breeds violence and there is no chance of violence coexisting with democracy,” said President Fernández.

Extreme polticial tensions are a reflection of the dire state of the Argentinian economy. The central bank recently raised interest rates to 69.5 percent as inflation has reached a 20-year high of 70 percent. For comparison, the interest rate in the US is between 2.25 and 2.5 percent. Argentinain inflation is set to hit 90 percent by the end of the year, wiping out savings for middle-class Argentinians as well as sending the price of basic goods through the roof for everyone. The nation is on its third economic minister in a month.

Who is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner?

Fernández was president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015 after being the husband of the previous president.

She faces a number of corruption allegations and stands accused of defrauding the state as well as fraudulently awarding public contracts in her base in Patagonia while she was president. However, as she holds parliamentary immunity she will not be imprisoned unless the Supreme Court ratifies her sentence. If she loses her seat in the elections next year then she could also be jailed if found guilty of corruption.