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World Leaders Send Condolences for Sudden Death of Néstor Kirchner – Synthesis, Reactions

By Dialogo
October 29, 2010

The sudden death due to a heart attack of former Argentine president Néstor Kirchner, who was sixty years old, led to sorrowful reactions from world leaders and organizations such as the UN, the EU, and the OAS, addressed especially to his widow, President Cristina Kirchner.

U.S. President Barack Obama highlighted Néstor Kirchner’s “significant role in the political life of Argentina.”

“On behalf of the American people, I offer my sincere condolences to the Argentine people and to President Cristina Fernández,” Obama declared in the statement issued by the White House.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered his “sincere condolences.” “A friend of the United Nations, Mr. Kirchner was a national and international leader who believed in multilateralism,” he emphasized.

The president of the European Union (EU), Herman Van Rompuy, said Wednesday that he was “deeply saddened” by the death of the sixty-year-old Kirchner, who died on 27 October of a heart attack.

“Receive, dear president and friend Cristina, the affection of the entire Spanish people, which accompanies you in these moments of deep sorrow,” said the message sent to Fernández by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The Organization of American States (OAS) lamented the “unexpected” death Wednesday, at a meeting at which the ambassadors of member states observed a moment of silence in honor of his “life of dedication and work.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, very close to the Kirchners, lamented the “irreparable loss” of his death, sent a heartfelt message of condolence to his “dear Cristina,” and decreed three days of national mourning.

“Ay, my dear Cristina … What sorrow! What great loss has Argentina and Our America suffered! Long live Kirchner forever!” Chávez wrote on the social network Twitter.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva decreed three days of official mourning and defined Kirchner as a “great ally and brotherly friend.”

“I always had in Néstor Kirchner a great ally and brotherly friend. His role in the economic, social, and political reconstruction of his country and his efforts in our shared fight for South American integration were noteworthy,” he indicated.

For his part, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera sent his “deepest and most heartfelt condolences to President Cristina Fernández and to all the people of Argentina.”

Meanwhile, Mexican President Felipe Calderón lamented the death and characterized Kirchner as a “promoter of Latin American unity.”
From Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos asked for a moment of silence for the “great loss.”

Néstor Kirchner mediated in the recent establishment of diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela, to the point that he participated in the summit at which the two presidents, Santos and Chávez, agreed to resume ties, on 10 August.

From Uruguay, President José Mujica was visibly moved and announced that he expects to attend the burial, along with the majority of South American leaders.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), headquartered in Los Angeles and known around the world for its fight against anti-Semitism and the Nazis, lamented the death. Kirchner “called for the investigation of the AMIA Jewish Center bombing” and advocated for human rights, the center indicated.

The director of the IMF, Dominique Straus-Khan, emphasized that Kirchner “led Argentina” toward economic recovery following the severe financial crisis of 2001. “He will be greatly missed,” he affirmed.

The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, expressed “great sadness” for this death that “leaves behind the memory of a man of action and conviction.”

The Andean Community of Nations (CAN) expressed “its most heartfelt condolences,” while the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), of which Kirchner was secretary-general, said that his death “deprives Latin America of a key leader in building a region without exclusions.”

Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica also expressed their condolences.

Cuban leader Raúl Castro did the same, sending a message of “heartfelt condolences” to Cristina Kirchner and the “brother Argentine people.”
For its part, the Peruvian government decreed a national day of mourning for 28 October.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that he was “deeply saddened” by the death of a man “deeply committed to his country and to advancing peace.”

Finally, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, turned to a biblical phrase of consolation for Cristina Fernández. “I want to appeal to the Christian faith in order to remind her of Psalm 23, when it comforts us, faced with the immensity of the passage to our eternal dwelling place, with the sublime expression, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want,’” he said.