Neo-Nazi Pattern Emerges in Assassination Attempt Against Argentine Vice President
The attempted assassination of former Argentine President and current Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which took place on Sept. 1 on the street in front of the apartment building where she lives in Buenos Aires, stunned the nation. Fortunately, it failed, because the 32 caliber Bersa pistol that the 35-year-old Fernando Sabag Montiel shot twice at point blank range at her face jammed. She would have been killed instantly had it not done so.
In a nationally-televised speech that night, President Alberto Fernandez stated that this was the worst incident to occur in the country since the return of democracy in 1983, and declared the next day a public holiday so that citizens could go out on the streets in “peace and harmony” to support the Vice President and repudiate this act of violence. Almost a million people answered his call in Buenos Aires, filling the historic Plaza de Mayo, while tens of thousands more marched in cities around the country. It was an unprecedented mass mobilization.
It would be a tragic mistake, however, to attribute this attack to domestic politics. Yes, the internal situation is very polarized. The ruling “Front for All” coalition has gone through a turbulent few months with major cabinet changes and significant shifts in economic policy aimed at trying to rein in uncontrolled inflation and a dangerous drop in foreign reserves. Despite these difficulties, President Fernandez is committed to securing Argentina’s membership in the BRICS grouping and strengthening alliances with nations not enamored of the ”rules based order”.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a two-time President and tough political leader in her own right, has also been at the center of a political storm in the past two weeks, after a federal prosecutor called for her to be jailed for 12 years and banned from politics for life on trumped-up corruption charges. The mass media and the right-wing political opposition controlled by former neoliberal President Mauricio Macri have fed an environment of hostility and hatred targeting her directly.
Despite this fraught political situation, the pattern that has emerged from initial investigations of the murder attempt make clear it is not a local matter, but rather the same pattern seen in the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York in May of this year, in the massacre at a Christchurch, New Zealand mosque in March of 2019, and many others in which the perpetrators were neo-Nazi admirers of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion. Sabag Montiel, born in Brazil but naturalized Argentine, was tattooed with the symbols of the Nazi Azov Battalion, the Black Sun, the Azov swastika as well as the German Iron Cross. On his Facebook page he “liked” several neo-Nazi and occult groups, and his friends described him as someone who displayed erratic behavior and was a fanatic of “death metal” music.
Police investigators are now looking at the possibility that the attempt on Kirchner’s life may not have been that of a “lone assassin,” but planned by a small group of Nazi sympathizers.