Citizens of Argentina are used to the erratic behavior of their president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but they still weren’t prepared for her rambling 45-minute address on national television on Tuesday night. The country’s chief executive ranted about American plots to kill her in a conspiracy theory apparently designed to distract attention from her country’s latest default on its debt.
“If something happens to me, don’t look to the Mideast, look North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.
The local reaction was swift. Opposition leader Elisa Carrio called her “completely out of touch with reality” and the Argentine central bank governor, Juan Carlos Fabrega, promptly resigned after less than a year in office. In her speech Kirchner had accused businessmen of trying to overthrow her government by trying to provoke devaluation of the peso with assistance from within the central bank itself.
Argentina went into default in August after it refused to pay $1.3 billion awarded by a New York judge to “vulture fund” investors who demanded full repayment on bond they held from the country’s previous default in 2001. “I’m not naive, this is not an isolated move by a senile judge in New York,” Fernández told her countrymen on Tuesday. “Because vultures look a lot like the eagles of empires,” referring to the bald eagle, the symbol of the United States.
Sadly, for Argentina’s sake the next presidential elections are over a year away. The question now is increasingly whether or not the country’s economy can wait that long.