“God, how much I missed you”, were the first words from Argentine president Cristina Fernandez to her supporters, mostly young, who congregated on Wednesday late evening in the several patios of Casa Rosada to welcome her first live appearance since the 45-day long medical leave.
Minutes before, in a brief ceremony, the president had taken the oath of office to three new ministers, but her objective was clearly to address her followers none less than on National Sovereign Day.
Very much protected by several bodyguards who did not allow anybody to approach her, Cristina Fernandez addressed the chanting and cheering crowd from an interior balcony. At first emotional but then when the waiting mike was working it was again the pure-bred speaker that re-emerged.
Praising the crowd for their militancy and support of years, the president made a couple of references to Sovereignty Day and national industry as an example of the recovered dignity of Argentine work and manufacturing, and immediately one of her first messages.
”We must continue to deepen the (re-industrialization) model so that no one can snatch it from us again, said Cristina Fernandez and proclaimed that on Sovereignty Day “we need to overcome the obstacle of the inability to develop a national industry as other countries did.”
We have to continue spreading this project in order to include more and more Argentines”, she added but also cautioning that “for certain things, a slogan is not enough”.
But admitted to difficulties in building a 'competitive' national industry, and called on the opposition to leave aside offences and join the efforts.
Further on the president talked about the company which made most profit in Argentina, and that was energy corporation YPF, seized from Repsol and which has those earnings because it continues to plough back and invest its profits
Nevertheless we will associate with whomever we need to associate, because we have no prejudice.
We need all Argentines to join efforts, workers and business people who have made successful companies, learn from YPF, the recovered YPF, the most profitable of all. And this is so not only because it is an oil company, but because it re-invests profits.
”Our target is to recover energy sovereignty, and for this we will associate with whoever. We need huge amounts of capital, intensive capital which is not in Argentina, or others who have the funds but don't keep them here (in Argentina).-
Likewise there was a mention of Aerolineas Argentinas which was recovered 'in pieces with no aircraft, but now she is flying Argentina and the region, and the same competitors have underlined how efficient the company is being managed. My congratulations to Mariano Recalde, the young manager who is doing an excellent job.
And in this field of connectivity, Cristina Fernandez announced the government will ensure that railways, passengers and cargo, become as efficient as Aerolineas, and for this we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars, and we shall continue on that path.
Cristina also called upon the opposition to discuss new policy ideas, and affirmed that “we are ready to hear all new ideas, but more importantly how to implement them too. Initiatives from the opposition will be given a fair hearing, she added.
What we need if that all the Argentine leadership, no matter what party, commits to sustain labor and jobs, national industry, education, technology so that this effort keeps advancing and is worth it.
As evidence of the model she called to support and advance, the president announced that unemployment in Argentina had fallen to 6.8% the lowest in the last decade.
But there were also messages to the new generations and Cristina mentioned her 'good friend' Michelle Bachelet who last Sunday won the presidential first round in Chile and the newly elected member of Congress and student leader Camila Vallejo.
Camila is a major in geography and very pretty I must say, but what is most important is the fact that she is involved in politics, that many of her generation are involved, which is a political asset for any democracy.
The president finally said that I want to mention that we have rescued many young people who have fallen in love with politics, and this is because we have rescued utopias. But in democracy, an invaluable asset you don't assess until it is lost.
Summing up it can be said it was a timely speech, on a timely day, with all the ingredients of Cristina Fernandez, maybe less arrogant and open to dialogue with the opposition. And also evidence that the president might have been on medical leave but she was kept well informed of events, or maybe on her own.