Argentina’s Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – who survived an assassination attempt after a gunman’s weapon jammed – has said she is alive “because of God and the Virgin Mary”.
In her first public comments since the 1 September attack in Buenos Aires, she also revealed that Pope Francis called her the very next day to comfort her.
Fernando Sabag Montiel, 35, and his girlfriend Brenda Uliarte, 23, have been charged with attempted murder.
They both deny any involvement.
Speaking at a meeting with priests and nuns on Thursday, Ms Fernández de Kirchner, 69, said: “I feel that I am alive because of God and the Virgin Mary, really.
“So it seems to me that if I had to thank God and the Virgin I had to do it surrounded by priests.”
She also expressed gratitude to the Pope, a fellow Argentine, for calling her just hours after the failed attack.
“Pope Francis called me very early the next day. We were talking on the phone and he told me something like this: that acts of hate, acts of hate and violence, are always preceded by words and by verbs of hate and violence,” the vice-president said.
The incident happened as Ms Fernández de Kirchner greeted supporters outside her home.
A small crowd had gathered to show its backing for the vice-president, who is currently on trial for corruption, when a man pointed a handgun at her head. The moment was captured on video.
The gun did not fire, but Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernández, later said it had been loaded with five bullets. “Cristina is still alive because, for some reason yet to be confirmed, the gun … did not fire,” he said in a televised address.
President Fernández described it as “the most serious incident since the return of democracy” in 1983.
Fernando Sabag Montiel, who was born in Brazil but has lived in Argentina since he was a child, was arrested at the scene minutes after the incident. His girlfriend was detained several days later.
Investigators are still trying to establish the motive behind the attack on Ms Fernández de Kirchner, a left-wing politician who, while immensely popular with her supporters, has alienated many during her years as one of Argentina’s most influential politicians.
Before she became vice-president in 2019, she served as Argentina’s president from 2007 to 2015 and as first lady from 2003 to 2007.