Argentinian Jews salute Kirchner’s re-election


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Jewish community leaders saluted the reelection of Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

“She won a great election in a clean and transparent process," Angel Barman, the president of AMIA Jewish community center, told JTA. "She has huge popular support. We expect a successful new term."

The Latin American representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Sergio Widder, hailed Kirchner and her late husband, who preceded her as president, for supporting the investigation of the unsolved 1994 AMIA Jewish community center bombing, including demanding at successive U.N. General Assemblies that Iran hand over suspects.

Dina Siegel Vann, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Latino and Latin American Institute, said Kirchner’s re-election was a sign of the health of Argentinian democracy.

First elected in 2007, Kirchner won re-election Sunday with 54 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate field. The closest runner-up, socialist candidate Hermes Binner, won 17 percent of the vote. No Argentinian leader has won such a major share of votes since Juan Domingo Peron was elected for the third time in 1973 with more than 62 percent of the vote.

Kirchner is considered a friend of the Jewish community, having appeared at numerous Jewish events, including last year’s AMIA gala dinner.

However, Kirchner’s apparent welcome of overtures from Iran has concerned many Jews. Her failure to direct the Argentinian delegation to walk out of the General Assembly during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech last month to the United Nations sparked criticism in the Jewish community.

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