Security Minister Aníbal Fernández apologized to newspaper comedian Cristian Dzwonik, better known as “Nik”, after the cartoonist denounced him for threats during a heated exchange on the networks social.
Press associations condemned the minister on Tuesday, with Fernández also being criticized by his own party colleagues over his initial comments. The opposition leaders of the Juntos por el Cambio coalition went even further, demanding the resignation of the official following the episode.
Controversy erupted after Dzwonik, the creator of famous comic book character Gatturo, posted a tweet in which he criticized the government for ‘freebies’ to voters in the middle of an election campaign, citing “[state-funded] graduation trips, [social] plans and documents. “
Angered by the comments, Fernández replied that “many schools in the city of Buenos Aires receive state grants and that’s okay.” He then controversially cited the example of ORT college – the school the daughters of the designer attend.
“Security Minister Aníbal Fernández dedicated a tweet persecuting me with a veiled threat letting me know that he knows which college my youngest daughters attend,” Dzwonik replied on Twitter. “The minister who should offer ‘SECURITY’ to every Argentinian harasses those who think differently. I am scared.”
Fernández, who only joined the Cabinet on September 17 during a cabinet reshuffle, sought to explain himself by responding to a user who had criticized his remarks.
“I didn’t threaten anyone. I told Nik if he felt threatened I would apologize. No sweat, I didn’t hurt,” he said.
Despite the explanation, the ADEPA newspaper association severely condemned the minister’s intimidating remarks and the reference to the cartoonist’s family.
“The message, which includes information about the cartoonist’s entourage, is particularly serious, especially coming from a person responsible for ensuring the safety of citizens,” the press group said.
Fernández, however, ensured that his controversial tweet against Nik was part of a “debate”, complaining that the cartoonist “attacks [the government] nonstop.”
“One of the many things I think I do is write, my writing is crisp and clear. It was a debate we had on grants,” the official said.
On Wednesday morning, however, Fernández complained to reporters about the “phenomenal attacks” on him, which he described as “ruthless”.
The origin of the conflict
The clash between the Minister of Security and the cartoonist began when Nik criticized the plan of the governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof, to grant “free graduation trips” to 220,000 school students. provincial.
On October 8, he tweeted: “Donate refrigerators, gas cylinders, graduation trips, [social] plans, cash back, whatever. How sad to never hear the words WORK, EFFORT, FUTURE. The DIGNITY of the people will overcome them once more.
Without being addressed directly, Fernández took up the challenge by responding: “There are many schools in the city of Buenos Aires that receive state subsidies and that’s good. For example, the ORT college. Do you know ? draw it for you? Excellent school, I guarantee it. I repeat… Do you know? ”
Naming the school the cartoonist’s daughters attended was what made the message sound like a threat. It was understood as such by the cartoonist.
“The director of the ORT college confirmed that he was not receiving any state subsidy. The minister gave false news. A few hours later, @FernandezAnibal, who mentioned me on his Twitter but blocked me, deleted his tweet,” Nik complained.
“National Security Minister Aníbal Fernández, with our children, NO” were the words the comedian attached to a cartoon in reaction.
In response to this, the minister explained, “For those who followed Nik’s argument with me, I wrote to his WhatsApp saying that if he understood anything in my expressions as a threat, I apologize. I spoke about it with the president of the DAIA [Jewish umbrella grouping]. Didn’t he get it when I said I would draw it for him? There you go, ”adding a drawing of Gaturro (the protagonist of Nik’s feline cartoon) visiting the school, giving him to understand that he used it as an example for this reason.
“It’s written very clearly. Nothing more than an ongoing debate with him on subsidies and the debate ended there, ”Fernández explained later in a dialogue with the TN television news channel.
In this sense, the Minister said: “I would never joke with anyone’s children and if he took it that way, I apologize honestly”, adding that apologizing would not be a problem for him. .
According to Fernández, “explaining these things is an obligation”, saying: “Children, homes and women are temples that we do not interfere.”
On Tuesday, the first legal complaints arrived, with a lawyer denouncing Security Minister Fernández for “abuse of power and threats”.
Santiago Dupuy de Lomé, a familiar presence at the Federal Courthouse in Comodoro Py, posted his denunciation, which was registered under number 6580/2021 and lies with Federal Judge Julián Ercolini.
64-year-old Fernández’s comments were criticized from both sides of the aisle, including by Chief of Staff Juan Manzur, who described them as “very unhappy”.
The security minister, who has held several key government positions over the past two decades under the presidencies of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, also faces calls for his resignation from opposition leaders in the Juntos por el Cambio.
Maximiliano Ferraro, who chairs the lower house caucus of the Civic Coalition, warned: “The country is upside down when Security Minister Aníbal Fernández, instead of protecting citizens, scares them with threats in his public statements on social networks. What happened is serious. and inadmissible and we demand a retraction, declaring our solidarity with the satirical cartoonist Nick (sic). “
Hinting at further legal action, Elisa Carrió, another Civic Coalition leader, called on the courts to investigate Aníbal Fernández’s threats against Nik, seeing them as “an expression of racist thought and Nazi “, as well as” a very clear type of anti-Semitic attack. “
During the election campaign in Mar del Plata, the former deputy told TN about the clash on Twitter between Fernández and the creator of Gaturro.
“ORT College is Jewish. He not only threatens Nik’s children who draw the college, but he turns the name of the Jewish college in Buenos Aires into a kind of very clear anti-Semitic attack, ”he said.
Via his Twitter account, former President Mauricio Macri also raised the controversy, while expressing his surprise that the threats could come from Governor Kicillof’s “free graduation trips” for 220,000 schoolchildren in the province of BA.
“WE ARE ALL NIK. I cannot get over my astonishment. Security Minister Aníbal Fernández threatened Nik about a tweet criticizing the delivery of refrigerators, gas cylinders and graduation trips for purposes election, “Macri said.
Along the same lines, he added: “In response to this tweet, Minister Fernández publicly identified the school attended by Nik’s daughters, seeking not only to intimidate the author and his daughters but at the same time any other citizen. who would dare to criticize the government. “
Nevertheless, he explained that “this time the fear did not win”, since the citizens and the organizations “immediately repudiated the minister”.
“We are tired of assaults and arrogance. We have already told him that we have had enough, we are no longer afraid of him, millions of us are fed up, “said the ex-president, adding:” The end of this dark period is close”.
The top candidate for the lower house of the ruling coalition in the city of Buenos Aires, Leandro Santoro, has also entered into controversy.
“Yesterday I called Aníbal about this and I could not reach him,” Santoro said, considering that any reference to family or children in the context of a political discussion was “unacceptable”, that ‘it is direct or indirect.
“The truth is I don’t know what Anibal meant, it’s unacceptable,” he said in an interview, questioning the minister and adding: “When the arguments get personal it doesn’t help politics”.
– SCHEDULES / NA / PERFIL