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Argentine President-elect Fernandez's law students discuss him as a teacher

ARGENTINA INAUGURATION | 05 de diciembre de 2019

By Carmen Herranz

Buenos Aires, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- "He sets the bar very high" and "he doesn't give any presents to anyone" are just some of the expressions used by students of Argentine President-elect Alberto Fernandez, who for decades has been a lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires Law School.

In a chat with Efe, Brande Riffo, Julian Orentani and Gaston Otero told what it's like to have taken classes from the man who on Dec. 10 will be sworn in to lead the South American country.

His students admit that that they didn't select the class titled "General Crime Theory and the Prison System" by accident but rather spurred by curiosity to take a class from the then-presidential candidate.

Otero, who attended Fernandez's classes during the current quarter, upon learning of his candidacy said that he bet his brother that the professor would continue to offer the class.

"The people were waiting for him inside the classroom, there were lots of reporters, people who wanted to sneak in," he said.

Otero went on to say that the professor entered the lecture hall and joked to the audience that he felt like Roberto Carlos in that he suddenly had "a million friends," alluding to the famous song by the Brazilian singer.

"It's nice, you're watching him on TV and you say 'he's my professor,' so it's a unique shock in your career," he said.

Orentani said that "I didn't come to the class by chance, it was really to see if he'd say anything juicy, some little thing, like professors do, if they tell some anecdote."

Riffo, denying that she is a prophet, said that she signed up for the class trusting her instinct, known that "(Fernandez) is a very common name" but she somehow "felt" that her teacher would be the president-elect of Argentina.

Fernandez is no novice in politics, having served as chief of staff for President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and for the first few months of Cristina Fernandez's presidency immediately thereafter.

He announced his candidacy last May with former President Cristina Fernandez as his running mate.

Riffo said that the president-elect was caring and empathetic with his students, a very professional lecturer who tried to adhere to his teaching schedule "as much as possible" despite the demands of his hectic campaign.

An Argentine president is expected to have every minute of his day pre-programmed - especially since the country has been mired in a recession since April 2018 - but Fernandez's lecture assistant Adrian Rois, who has taken over his classes for the moment, said that the president-elect has promised to continue teaching his classes next year in addition to his official presidential duties.

According to a report released by the Indec statistics institute, Argentina's poverty rate hit a high of 42.3 percent in the 15-29 age group during the administration of President Mauricio Macri.

Throughout his campaign, Fernandez has promised to lower that figure, but what do people who have seen him in front of the blackboard think?

His three pupils say they are hopeful about the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket.

"He has my full support, I told him that when I said goodbye to him. He won my full affection and I think the boys here feel the same way," said Riffo.

His students said that "he doesn't give any presents to anyone" as a professor, but - on the other hand - not everyone can say they had the country's leader as their teacher.

"The University of Buenos Aires, aside from imparting knowledge to me, gave me the good luck to cross paths with the president of the country," Otero said.

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