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ARGENTINA | 04-05-2024 10:51

Spain slams Milei's claim that PM Sánchez is delivering 'poverty and death'

Leaders of Argentina and Spain caught in war of words; Government in Madrid rejects claims from President Milei's office that PM Sánchez is delivering "poverty and death" – a response to slurs of drug use.

Spain on Saturday denounced comments by President Javier Milei which had accused the Spanish government of bringing "poverty and death" to its own people.

Milei’s Office published a statement on X, accusing Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of damaging Spain's economy and stability.

The post appears to have been in reaction to earlier comments from Spanish Transport Minister Oscar Puente who had suggested Milei is on drugs.  

"The Spanish government categorically rejects the unfounded words... which do not reflect the relations between the two countries and their fraternal people," the Spanish Foreign Ministry said. 

Milei's office also accused Sánchez of "endangering the unity of the kingdom, by sealing an agreement with the separatists and leading Spain to its ruin", an allusion to a pact the Spanish leader’s Socialist Party (PSOE) struck with Basque and Catalan regionalist parties to form a government.

Milei will travel to Spain in two weeks for an event on May 18 and 19 organised by the far-right opposition party Vox, which is in a race with the Socialists in next month's European elections. 

The row started when Puente suggested on Friday that the Milei had taken "substances."

"I saw Milei on television" during the campaign, Puente told a Socialist Party conference on Friday. "And when he came out ...  I don't know if it was before or after the consumption... of substances."

"There are some very bad people who, by being themselves, have risen to the top," Puente continued, citing as examples Milei and former US president Donald Trump.

The statements provoked an immediate reaction from the Argentine Presidency, which, in a harsh statement on the social network X, accused Sánchez of implementing policies that deliver “poverty and death.”

"Sánchez ... has endangered the middle class with his socialist policies that only bring poverty and death," it read.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry responded to Argentina's accusations on Saturday, saying it firmly rejected the "unfounded" comments issued by Milei.

"They do not correspond to the relations of two brotherly countries and peoples," the portfolio said in a statement.

"The Spanish government and people will continue to maintain and strengthen their fraternal ties and their relations of friendship and collaboration with the Argentine people, a desire shared by the whole of Spanish society," the document added.

In an extraordinary overstepping of diplomatic relations, the statement from Milei’s office accused Sánchez of having "more important problems to deal with, such as the corruption accusations against his wife" Begoña Gómez, who is under investigation for alleged influence peddling and corruption.

An investigation was opened following a complaint by the "Manos limpias" association, a group associated with the right.

The public prosecutor's office has requested that the investigation be closed, but the judge in charge of the case has not yet revealed his intentions.

The accusation has led Sánchez to question his continuity in government, but he later confirmed that he was staying in office and said in a letter that the allegations were "as scandalous as they were false.”

Argentina’s leader is not due to meet either Sánchez or the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

During last year’s presidential election, which Milei won, Sánchez openly supported Peronist candidate Sergio Massa and did not call the president-elect after his win in the run-off.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry instead limited itself to wishing "success to Argentina in this new stage," without even mentioning Milei's name.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal did travel to Buenos Aires to attend the inauguration.


–  TIMES/AFP
 

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