Erasing the Kirchner cult

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WEDGED behind the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, the Museo del Bicentenario (bicentenary museum) tells the story of the country’s leaders since the revolution against Spanish rule in 1810. Until recently, half its floorspace was devoted to exhibits about Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was president when she opened the museum in 2011, and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, who preceded her in office. On display were Kirchner’s trademark loafers and a football shirt emblazoned with the legend “100% K”. Founding fathers like Domingo Sarmiento, Argentina’s seventh president, were “practically non-existent” says Luciano de Privitellio, director of cultural programmes at the Casa Rosada.

On the orders of Ms Fernández’s recently elected successor, Mauricio Macri, the museum has undergone a seven-week overhaul; it reopened on June 28th. Mr Privitellio claims it is now more even-handed. All of Argentina’s former presidents, including brutal 20th-century dictators, are represented with paintings, video screens and artefacts (Sarmiento’s desk and the dinner jacket of Carlos Menem, for example). “You can’t leave out the ones you don’t like,” says Mr Privitellio.

The rearrangement is part of a broader effort to banish the soft cult of personality that Ms Fernández had created around herself and her husband, who died…Continue reading