On Thursday, the senators elected in the last elections, in which a third of the seats in the upper house were renewed, were sworn in. Before the formal ceremony, there was room for emotion for the memory of the deceased Fuegian representative Matías Rodríguez. One of the most emotional was Anabel Fernández Sagasti, a fellow militant, who dedicated a speech to him and broke down in tears.
The death of Rodríguez, a senator from Tierra del Fuego, hit everyone on October 18. The member of La Cámpora was found dead in his home in Ushuaia. Numerous politicians, from across the party spectrum, lamented the suicide.
Fernandez Sagasti, also a Camporista, was the most shocked in Thursday's Senate session, in which the new members were sworn in.
"I think they're the most difficult words I'm going to have to pronounce, that's why I decided to write a few lines. I never do it, but I understood that it was a protection against the emotion and the possible break that I am going to have," began the senator for Mendoza, leader of the Union for the Homeland in the chamber.
Anabel Fernández Sagasti, one of the most emotional when remembering Matías Rodríguez. Photo: Federico López Claro
She had been preceded by the Fuegians Pablo Blanco (UCR) and María Eugenia Duré (of the current ruling party), who left tears in the eyes of several legislators.
"Talking about Matías Rodríguez is much more than explaining the inexplicable nature of his absence," Fernández Sagasti continued. "No comrade is going to deny that he was a very supportive and very loyal colleague."
She recalled speaking with him on Oct. 17, the day before his death. The conversation was for reasons of parliamentary work. There was nothing to foresee the end. "Don't worry, Gringa, I'll get the ticket and let you know when I'm coming," the senator recreated that last talk. He recalled that Rodriguez "was very committed to the law of the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy."
Wiping away tears, he defined him as "a friend, empathetic, Peronist, militant, creative, obstinate, hardworking."
"He treated everyone like they were all him. Someone who didn't ask for inventory benefits or party card or care about ideology. He transcended the barriers of our bloc, but was a crony of many senators," Fernandez Sagasti continued.
Senators contain Anabel Fernandez Sagasti, who remembered Matias Rodriguez. Photo: Federico López Claro
"He transcended the borders of his people, because he is very loved in Tierra del Fuego and by the militants who knew him. Mati transcended too quickly," the senator added.
The attention was respectful, all the senators silent. "Every day we try to remember Matias as he would like, but sometimes I am very angry that I have not been able to help him in his pain. I know that from wherever he is, he is illuminating his beloved Tierra del Fuego, his beloved Ushuaia, the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands and all the Argentine people," she continued, with anguish and makeup running down the roof.
"Dear friend and comrade Matías, militant of the doctrine of good people, I hope that you continue to illuminate our path every day," he concluded before receiving the support and hugs of his colleagues.
At the end, at his request, the senators stood up and applauded Matías Rodríguez for a minute.
What the senators for Tierra del Fuego said about the death of Matías Rodríguez
Rodríguez's memory was the theme that opened the activity in Thursday's session, after the notes of the National Anthem were played. The first to take the floor was Pablo Blanco, from Juntos por el Cambio, who had already shown his pain last October.
"An unexpected fact, I look to the side and it's hard not to see Matías. Sorry for the emotion," began the former Fuegian gubernatorial candidate. "Beyond our partisan differences was the interest of the province," he added. "He knew what political dialogue was, political coexistence."
He regretted that there were no tributes in the legislative chambers of Tierra del Fuego and that the farewell was not in the Legislature of that province. "I hope that the Fuegian justice system pays him the best tribute, which is to clarify what surrounded his tragic decision," he added.
Then María Eugenia Duré spoke. "We are hurt by the departure of comrade Matías Rodríguez, as we will always be hurt by the departure of any comrade of militancy," said the member of the Upper House for the southern province.
He highlighted Rodríguez's experience and added: "When we arrived at the Senate, the only thing we had to do here were not political divisions or put words that sometimes hurt, because we are talking about a colleague who was a senator, who everyone knew."
"It hurts us because we are in very turbulent times as a society," he said before calling for more attention to mental health and "responsible speeches" from members of the upper house.
On the verge of tears, he concluded: "We lost a colleague, yes. But there are personal decisions and private ones, I ask for respect for the senator's children, for his family, for his colleagues. A lot of things are being said. Let us not allow a suicide, such a personal decision, to be used politically. We're not going to allow it."
José Mayans from Formosa also dedicated a few words to Matías Rodríguez. At the end there was a minute's silence in his memory.