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Argentina: The Flag Day Ceremony and Cristina Fernández's Bid for Re-Election

Every June 20 Argentina celebrates Flag Day [es], honoring the death of its creator, Manuel Belgrano. A traditional parade takes place in Rosario, 350 km from Buenos Aires, where the flag was raised for the first time.

The idea to build the longest and ‘most unified’ flag in the world started in 1999. The project is called “High in the sky” (“Alta en el cielo”[es] in Spanish) and its site [es] explains that this idea culminates in 2012 with the bicentennial of the creation of the flag:

Con retazos de tela y máquinas de coser, un pueblo demuestra y se demuestra a sí mismo que: la cultura, la historia, el esfuerzo, la integración y la esperanza pueden coserse.

La construcción colectiva de la Bandera de ”Alta en el Cielo” demuestra de cuánto es capaz una sociedad cuando se une en un objetivo común. A partir de su confección, las diferentes comunidades fortalecen sus vínculos y generan nuevos proyectos comunitarios.

With pieces of cloth and sewing machines, the people show each other and themselves that: culture, history, effort, integration and hope can be sewn together.

The collective construction of the Flag “High in the Sky” shows how much society is capable of when it comes together with a common objective. Thanks to its confection, different communities strengthen their ties and generate new community projects.

The site continues:

Retazo a retazo, celestes y blancos, los chicos de toda la Nación junto a docentes, amigos, hermanos, padres y abuelos, mantienen viva esta utopía. Cada retazo es una historia. Cada paño representa a un argentino, a decenas, a cientos, a miles y a millones de ellos; es decir: a todos.

Piece by piece, light blue and white, youth from the whole Nation together with teachers, friends, siblings, parents and grandparents, keep this utopia alive. Each piece of cloth is a story. Each cloth represents an Argentine, tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of them; in other words: everyone.

Parade with the 20 KM Argentine flag in Rosario- Photo: Laura Schneider

On June 20, 2011, the 20km long flag paraded around Rosario, held by anyone who wanted to carry it: from children and teenagers to the elderly, the people became the mast. National authorities attended the parade, like every year, and this year, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was more than a mere spectator: she was the only speaker at the event.

2011 is an electoral year [es] and registration for candidates has not closed yet. The question among Argentines at the time of the event was whether or not she would run for re-election. The blog Krohne Archiv [es] comments about the uncertainty:

La Presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner se ha convertido en una verdadera incógnita en el escenario de la política argentina, porque faltando sólo una semana para el cierre de la inscripción de las candidaturas presidenciales, no hay indicios claros de lo que la mandataria está planeando hacer para anunciar oficialmente su postulación a la reelección, que se da por descontado.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has become a real mystery in the Argentine political arena, because just one week before the registration for presidential candidates closes, there are no clear indications of what the president is planning to do to officially announce her candidacy for reelection, which is obvious.

The President's speech during the event caused different reactions, including whether she actually considered that June 20 is Flag Day and not a time for proselytizing, as Evelyn Tacuara [es] says in her blog, where she transcribes the words of Hermes Binner, Governor of Santa Fe and candidate for the 2011 Presidential elections:

No le temo a la guerra (entre agrupaciones) eso no va a ocurrir, simplemente es un hecho simbólico que me parece no apropiado utilizar el acto oficial del Monumento a la Bandera que viene la presidenta para parcializar este acto.

I'm not afraid of war (between groups), that is not going to happen, it is simply a symbolic act that I do not find appropriate to use an official ceremony of the Monument to the Flag as the President has to fracture this event [into political sides].

In the same blog, Evelyn writes:

Porque más allá de ser un acto oficial, los que estaban allí son políticos, hacen política, tienen discursos políticos y están en plena campaña.

Because besides being an official act, those who were there are politicians, doing politics, they have political speeches and are in the middle of a campaign.

On Facebook, the page ‘HERMES BINNER PRESIDENTE – Por una Argentina Justa y Solidaria‘ [es] (Hermes Binner for President- For a Just and Caring Argentina), criticizes the manifestations during the event carried out by members of La Campora [es], a pro-Kirchner organization:

“Binner gorila, cuidado con Cristina”, gritaban los militantes pagos de La Cámpora hoy en Rosario, durante el acto por el día de la Bandera. No dejaron hablar ni al señor gobernador de la provincia ni al señor intendente de la ciudad de Rosario. Para completarla, la señora presidente hizo de una fecha patria, su lanzamiento de campaña…LAMENTABLE…

“Binner gorilla, watch out for Cristina”, the members of La Cámpora yelled today in Rosario, during the ceremony for Flag day. They didn't even let the governor of the province or the mayor of Rosario speak. To make things worse, the President used a national holiday to launch her campaign….LAMENTABLE….

Cristina Fernández – President of Argentina and Hermes Binner, opposition candidate for the presidency- Photo: Laura Schneider

On the other hand, Daniel Mancuso [es] analyses the headlines used by the opponents of the current government as they reacted to the President's speech:

El diario La Nación publica una nota malintencionada ─sobre el inminente anuncio de la Presidenta sobre su reelección─ titulada «Peor clima para un anuncio, imposible». El sentido de la publicación es mostrar todos los ingredientes “negativos” ─azuzados desde los multimedios opositores─ que flotan en la coyuntura y que muestran un momento “negro” para el oficialismo.

Newspaper La Nación published a malicious article  ─about the imminent announcement by the President of her reelection ─ titled “Worse weather for an announcement, impossible.” The paper's strategy is to show all the “negative” ingredients –incited from the opposition multimedia– around the act that show a “dark” time for the ruling party.

Later, Daniel [es] analyzes the headline in newspaper Clarin [es]:

El multimedios apropiador no se queda atrás. Luego del excelente discurso de Cristina en RosarioClarín publica: «En el acto por el Día de la Bandera, Cristina volvió a elogiar su gestión». De todo el discurso lleno de sustanciosos conceptos y un minucioso repaso de la historia de los últimos 10 años, Clarín extrajo:
“Tengo derecho a estar frente al Monumento porque hicimos avances memorables”, dijo la Presidenta en Rosario. Y disparó: “Seguramente mañana en el titular de algún diario dirá ‘¡Qué soberbia!’”.
Son previsibles, obvios, elementales y poco creíbles.Son tigres de papel…

The multimedia appropriator is not far behind. After Cristina's excellent speech in Rosario, Clarín reports: “In the act for Flag Day, Cristina once again praised her management.” Of all the meaty speech full of concepts and a thorough review of the history of the last 10 years, Clarín got:
“I have a right to be in front of the Monument because we have made memorable progress,” said the President in Rosario. And fired: “Surely, in the morning some newspaper headline will say, ‘What arrogance!”. “
They are predictable, obvious, elementary and not credible. They are paper tigers…

The day after, Cristina Fernandez announced her bid for re-election in a national broadcast. News agency Télam [es] made the bid official:

La Presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner lanzó esta tarde su candidatura en un acto en Casa de Gobierno y transmitido por cadena Nacional. “Yo siempre supe lo que tenía que hacer, lo supe el 28 de octubre cuando miles y miles me gritaban fuerza Cristina”, aseguró. “Mi compromiso es irrenunciable e irrevocable”,

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner launched her candidacy this afternoon in a ceremony at the Government House, broadcasted on national television. “I always knew what I had to do, I knew on October 28 when thousands screamed ‘be strong Cristina'”, she said. “My commitment is irrevocable and irreversible,”

On June 21, with the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, little by little candidates begin to emerge. Meanwhile, the largest and ‘most unified’ Argentine flag in the world, in the words of “Alta en el cielo” [es], keeps growing in length and unifying an entire country, with light blue, white and light blue. The Presidential race has begun Argentina.

Argentine flags with the symbol of 'Front for Victory', the President's party – photo: Laura Schneider

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