Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was sworn in for a second term here Saturday in a ceremony in which she broke with protocol by referring to her husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, while taking the oath of office.
Dressed in mourning black, Fernandez swore on the Bible to undertake her duties as president of the nation with loyalty and patriotism, and added that “if I should do otherwise, may God, my country and he (Kirchner) help me.”
Since Kirchner’s death in October last year, the president has often referred to her husband in public ceremonies as “he.”
Fernandez received the presidential sash from the hands of her daughter Florencia and herself took the ceremonial staff under the gaze of outgoing Vice President Julio Cobos, who has been at odds with the president for the past two years.
With this formula, the president avoided giving any role to Cobos, who, according to protocol, should have conducted Fernandez’s swearing-in ceremony.
Visibly moved, Cristina Fernandez hugged her daughter while Congress resounded with applause and cheering for the president and for Kirchner.
Invited presidents, foreign delegations, lawmakers, government officials, Peronist leaders and representatives of human rights organizations packed the Argentine Congress.
In the streets, supporters in their tens of thousands hailed the president’s inauguration with Peronist slogans and chants like “I’m a Peronist, I’m a soldier of Cristina.”
The 58-year-old Fernandez, who won re-election in October in a landslide, gave a one-hour, 15-minute speech in which she touted the country’s economic gains under her leadership and that of her late husband.
Fernandez said that, after nine straight years of growth, there is not only a “new Argentina” but also “a world of greater challenges and major decisions committed to the interests” of Argentine society.
The country, she said, has made a “phenomenal leap” since 2003, when her husband assumed the presidency amid one of the worst economic crises in Argentine history, including a jobless rate of 25 percent, debt equivalent to 140 percent of gross domestic product and a poverty index of 54 percent.
Since then, she said, Argentina has grown at a tremendous rate, creating 5 million jobs and achieving the highest minimum wage in the region.
Fernandez is Argentina’s second woman president. In 1974, Isabel Peron, who was first lady and vice president, became head of state when her husband, Juan Domingo Peron, died.