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LATIN AMERICA | 29-03-2024 20:31

Mondino denies relations with Colombia are broken amid row

Foreign Minister Diana Mondino says "relations with Colombia have not been broken," despite the ongoing row between President Javier Milei and his counterpart in Bogotá, Gustavo Petro.

Foreign Minister Diana Mondino assured Thursday night that "relations with Colombia have not been broken," despite the decision of Gustavo Petro's government to expel Argentine diplomats from the country.

The two nations are in the grip of a row following an exchange of bad words – earlier this week in an interview President Javier Milei described his Colombian counterpart as a "terrorist murderer."

"In no way have relations with Colombia been broken off. It's a president who doesn't like what someone else says. The relationship between countries is very long term and far superior to that which the presidents of each country may have," Mondino said on Thursday night in an interview with the TN news channel.

According to the minister, Milei referred to the Colombian leader as "'a person who was a terrorist' and indeed he was a terrorist ... these are facts said by President Petro himself."

But "the opinions that someone may have, whoever they are, good, fair or bad, do not affect relations between countries," claimed Mondino. 

On whether Argentina's president planned to apologise, Mondino replied baffingly: "I still don't know why it would be necessary to apologise."

Since taking office in December, Milei has grabbed headlines with his fiery rhetoric, including likening abortion to murder in a speech to high school students in March. 

Relations between Argentina and Colombia have typically been stable but have deteriorated since Milei took office.

Petro was for 12 years a member of a guerrilla force known as M-19, which signed a peace agreement in 1990. He later jumped into politics, serving as a senator and as mayor of Bogotá before being elected Colombia’s first left-wing president in 2002.

In January, Bogotá recalled its envoy in Argentina, Camilo Romero, after Milei called left-leaning Petro a "murderous communist who is sinking Colombia."

Shortly afterwards, Petro responded: "Those who attack us have no idea what communism and socialism are.”

Last year, while still a candidate, the Argentine leader said on Colombian radio that "a socialist is rubbish" and equivalent to "human excrement.”

Petro quoted this statement on his X social media account the following day, adding that "this is what Hitler said.”

Three days later, asked about the Colombian leader’s comment, Milei said in another radio interview: "Nothing surprises me about a socialist … they are part of the decadence."

Later, Petro described Milei's victory in the November elections as a "sad moment for Latin America.”

 

– TIMES/AFP

 

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