Being president of a country isn’t easy. There are political opponents always looking for excuses to rail against you, constituents to please and – oh yeah – a country to run. Let’s be honest, being a woman isn’t easy either, I know I’m a guy and I’ll never know what it’s like to be a woman, but how many male businessmen or politicians have ever had someone question whether they can succeed in spite of their gender.
You know what else isn’t easy? Being a widow. Recently, in spite of the difficulties associated with being the president of a large Latin American country, the newly widowed Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won re-election in Argentina, and is setting the country up for political and economic success.
Before she became president, Cristina Fernandez de Kircher may have been known to outsiders as simply Argentina’s first lady. Within Argentina though, she was a political force in her own right, first rising though elections in the provinces, and later acting as a powerful and influential member of the Argentina senate.
Upon taking office as president in 2007, Kirchner’s time in office started off with problems, and ended with successes. Initially, critics of Kirchner had been drowning out her supporters. The biggest jeers came from farmers and business, upset about her attempts to raise taxes on grain exports, and putting quotas on shipments of other crops. Critics also criticized her perceived attempts to silence them.
In spite of these problems, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had a great number of successes that propelled her to a landslide re-election, less than a year after the passing of her husband, Nestor Kirchner. While the country was in the midst of an economic crisis, Kirchner, a populist, focused on the needs of common people as a way to strengthen the economy. Fernandez has focused on increased aid to the poor and elderly, including giving cash to poor mothers with children, as well nationalizing the country’s private pension system. Coupled with rising commodity prices, and new markets in China for Argentine products, it is clear that to the people who elected her, Argentina is a country that spreads its wealth around.
Granted, some of the support for Kirchner’s re-election came from Argentine voters, who were sympathetic to her widowhood, and her opposition was fragmented into many different candidates, but she should still be highly commended. Winning a landslide election, while bringing rapid economic growth to a country, is impressive. As Latinos, we should hope that people in the nations of our ancestors would elect more leaders cut from the same cloth as Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.