Tens of thousands of supporters jammed Argentina’s most famous square on Wednesday night to say goodbye to president Cristina Fernandez.
The outgoing leader who lauded her government’s achievements while blasting the incoming administration in the same withering tones she aimed at opponents throughout her eight years in office.
As blue and white Argentine flags waved and people cheered on a balmy night, Ms Fernandez gave a speech that was both a recap of her years in power and a clear sign that she does not plan to make things easy for the new president Mauricio Macri, who was inaugurated yesterday.
Ms Fernandez addressed the crowd on Plaza de Mayo in downtown Buenos Aires amid widespread criticism for her decision not to attend Mr Macri’s inauguration.
The two spent much of the last ten days bickering over where the presidential baton and sash would be handed over. Mr Macri wanted to receive them at the Casa Rosada presidential offices from Ms Fernandez, while she insisted the handover happen in Congress. Many Argentines viewed the argument as a national embarrassment.
Without mentioning him by name, Ms Fernandez framed the tiff as Mr Macri’s fault. She also criticised a federal court ruling in a case brought by Mr Marci that determined her presidency ended at midnight, saying it would leave Argentina without a president until Mr Macri was sworn-in at midday yesterday.
“I can’t talk much because after midnight I’ll turn into a pumpkin,” she joked.
Ms Fernandez talked about “an agenda from the outside being imposed on the region,” apparently referring to the United States and others she sees as enemies of Argentina.
During her two terms in power, Ms Fernandez frequently accused other countries of meddling in this South American nation’s affairs, though rarely provided details.
For 12 years, Ms Fernandez, and before her, late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, dominated the political landscape. The couple rewrote the country’s social contract, spending heavily on social programmes for the poor while passing liberalising laws, such as legalising gay marriage in 2010. They also aligned Argentina with socialist leaders like the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.