Argentines bid Kirchner farewell

Thousands pay respects to the man credited with steering the country through near economic collapse.

Published October 29, 2010 6:02PM (EDT)

Thousands of Argentines filed past a flag-draped coffin to pay their respects to former President Nestor Kirchner on Friday, then lined the capital's rain-slicked streets for a glimpse of his hearse as it passed by.

Police officers in orange traffic vests jogged alongside the black Mercedes hearse as the funeral procession wended its way through the wind and rain in crowded downtown Buenos Aires.

People emerged from apartment buildings and businesses to applaud the man credited with helping the South American nation recover from a crippling economic crisis in the early 2000s. Onlookers holding umbrellas and sky-blue and white flags tossed flowers onto the vehicle, and some marched along behind.

Arriving at Jorge Newberry airport, an honor guard loaded the coffin into an Argentine air force plane that then took off bound for Kirchner's native province of Santa Cruz, in the southern Patagonia region, where an intimate funeral is planned.

Kirchner died Wednesday of a heart attack at the age of 60.

Earlier Friday his widow, current President Cristina Fernandez, presided over the wake for a second straight day in the Casa de Gobierno.

People lined up in the rain outside waiting to pay their respects.

"Hang on, Cristina" and "We love you," some visitors cried out.

By Almudena Calatrava

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