What they didn’t plan on was Francisco De Narváez, a wealthy businessman running a well organized campaign. He admired Obama. He spent time analyzing the Obama campaign and met with representatives of Obama’s campaign staff. He patterned his campaign much like Obama’s.
He is an interesting guy. He dropped out of school, yet Harvard Business School uses his company, Casa Tia, as a model. He owns many companies, including American TV. He is a Colombian by birth, but came to Argentina when he was 3, and is a naturalized citizen.
He united with Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires, and Gabriela Michetti, who resigned as vice mayor and was also running for congress to campaign together with him. People were doubtful he would win. “They will pay people to vote for Kirchner.” is what my friends said. “They will falsify ballots. They will do what they have to to win.” I did not want Nestor Kirchner to win. I did not know anyone who did.
What was the turning point? Was it when Christina helped Hugo buy an Argentine business in Venezuela? That seemed to scare the hell out of the business community here. Finally. De Narváez asked people “Do you want to be like Chile and Brasil? Or do you want to be like Venezuela?” No one wants to be like Venezuela and the sale of Techint to the Venezuela government pushed the envelope. It was a wake up call.
Or maybe it was when they tried to make De Narváez look like an ephedrine drug lord because one of his 350 employees used one of his 350 company cell phones in his name to make drug buys. They were trying to get a hearing against him 2 weeks before the election. Jeesh! Even my cleaning lady saw through the dirty politics of that maneuver.
When all fails in dirty politics you can always use the flu. Five days before the election the government was going loco publicizing the swine flu. 50 times a minute we were warned about the perils of the "gripe porcina." Along with the travails of the gripe porcina were the dangers of voting. Explicit instructions were given on how to best vote during this horrid epidemic of flu.
What effect do you think this had? In my building, I overheard a conversation between several neighbors, debating whether or not to go vote because of the flu. I, la norteamericana, stepped in “You have to go vote.” I told them. “You have to. They are using the flu to manipulate you to not vote.” Can you imagine? All eyes were on me. “Look,” I told them, “This flu is bad, but last year in Argentina over 8,000 people died of the flu, this year there are 17. My HMO is not full of people. It is the same as always.”