Argentines pay tribute to former president Kirchner
Published 30/10/2010 | 05:00
Tens of thousands of Argentines paid tribute yesterday to former president Nestor Kirchner, whose death robbed his wife and successor President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of her closest adviser.
Mr Kirchner (60) was Argentina's most powerful politician and a leading contender for next year's presidential election. His sudden death ended the Kirchners' apparent plan to continue alternating in power, but she could run again.
Mr Kirchner died of a heart attack at the couple's weekend retreat in Patagonia.
Ms Kirchner was joined by South American presidents, her two children and local celebrities, including Diego Maradona, at a wake in the palace.
Wearing dark sunglasses, her face etched with grief, the president patted her heart with her right hand as she smiled sadly and nodded toward friends, political allies, celebrities and foreign presidents who filed past her husband's coffin. Outside in the square facing the famous pink palace, crowds waved the national flag and carried banners bearing messages of support.
"He was the best president we've ever had. He got on well with the man in the street," said Dalia Mendoza (45).
Many credit Mr Kirchner with leading the country out of a 2001-2002 economic crisis. His criticism of the free-market, big business and the International Monetary Fund struck a chord with Argentines.