Argentine President Apologizes for Party Photo Amid Lockdown
(Bloomberg) -- Argentina President Alberto Fernandez apologized after a photo that showed him hosting a birthday party for his longtime partner during the country’s strictest phase of last year’s Covid lockdown came to light, triggering opposition calls to start an impeachment process.
The photo taken in July 2020 and published Thursday by a local TV channel shows Fernandez with first lady Fabiola Yanez at the presidential residence on the outskirts of Buenos Aires along with several friends in celebration mode. No one in the photo is wearing a face mask.
Fernandez insisted on Friday afternoon that “we didn’t hide anything,” and noted that Yanez organized the party.
“On July 14, birthday of my dear Fabiola, Fabiola organized a gathering and toast with her friends, that she shouldn’t have done,” said Fernandez at an event in rural Buenos Aires province. “I lament what happened, it won’t happen again.”
Opposition leaders are now threatening to start an impeachment process in congress, arguing the president breached the regulations he established to contain the virus from spreading. While an impeachment is very unlikely to advance given the ruling coalition’s capacity to block it at the lower house, the request comes just three months before midterm elections.
Fernandez implemented one of the world’s harshest lockdowns starting in March 2020, closing off public parks, suspending almost all domestic and international travel and not allowing any type of social gathering. The strategy failed to contain the coronavirus and Argentina now is one of the countries most affected by Covid, with over 108,000 Argentines having died from the disease.
The president’s approval rating has fallen to about 34% from a peak of 57% at the beginning of Argentina’s lockdown, according to a poll published Aug. 8 by consulting firm Management & Fit.
A spokesman for the president didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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