Someone Tried to Kill Argentina's VP. Many Don't Believe It

Conspiracy theories abound amid probe into assassination attempt on Cristina Fernandez
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2022 11:54 AM CDT
Good Chunk of Argentines Think Assassination Try Was Hoax
Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner greets supporters as she leaves her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Aug. 23.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

At least three people have been arrested over the assassination attempt against Argentina Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner earlier this month, and the investigation is ongoing, but some now think that probe may be a wild goose chase of sorts. As the New York Times frames it: "A sizable portion of Argentines seem to believe that Mrs. Kirchner's life was never actually in danger." That's because they're convinced the entire incident may have been a hoax, as evidenced by two separate analyses that show at least 40% of the social media posts made soon after the attack seemed skeptical about whether it was a real assassination attempt. An online poll bolstered that, showing that more than half of those Argentines surveyed thought the attack was staged.

Some of the debunked claims say the alleged gunman was using a water pistol, that his finger was never even on the trigger, and that one local news channel reported on the assassination attempt before it happened. It's not entirely clear why such a significant number are buying into these conspiracy theories, though the Times notes the pervading distrust of the country's government thanks to various eyebrow-raising events, including the unsolved death of a well-known prosecutor. It hasn't helped that there've been snags in the case around the assassination attempt, including the alleged gunman refusing to cooperate with investigators, and cops accidentally wiping his cellphone. "Unfortunately, the government has lied so much that it's like 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf,'" a 67-year-old Argentine salesman tells the paper.

Sen. Jose Mayans, a Kirchner ally, scoffs at all the speculation, saying, "By the end of the weekend, they're going to be saying it was an attempted suicide." And why would anyone want to fake such an attack? Whispers to that effect center on the incident as a distraction crafted by the ruling party to take eyes off the trial the left-wing politician is facing for alleged acts of corruption committed while she was president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015. Kirchner, meanwhile, spoke out publicly for the first time since the attempt on her life, telling a gathering of priests and nuns on Thursday that she thanks "God and the Virgin Mary" for sparing her, and that Pope Francis called her shortly after the attack. "We were talking on the phone and he told me something like this: that acts of hate ... and violence are always preceded by words ... of hate and violence," she said, per the BBC. (More Argentina stories.)

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