20th July 2024
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Spain and Argentina in diplomatic spat

Spain and Argentina are in a diplomatic spat as the two countries traded barbs over drug-taking and economic decline over the weekend.

Poor relations between the Hispanic nations hit a low on Friday night when Spain’s Transport Minister Oscar Puente (right in main image) suggested Argentina’s President Javier Milei (left) was on drugs.

Milei’s office responded on Saturday by accusing Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of bringing ‘poverty and death’ to his people and threatening Spain’s unity.

The spat comes two weeks ahead of a visit to Spain by Argentina’s ‘anarcho-capitalist’ president. He will attend an event of the far-right Vox party and will be avoiding the socialist (PSOE) head of government. The two have never had good ties.

Sánchez supported Milei’s rival Sergio Massa in the election that brought Milei to power in December and has not contacted Milei since the victory. Vox leader Santiago Abascal went to Buenos Aires for Milei’s investiture.

Milei’s anger this time appears to have been sparked by comments by Spain’s transport minister linking the president to drug-taking.

‘I saw Milei on television’ during the campaign, Puente told a socialist party conference on Friday. ‘I don’t know if it was before or after the consumption … of substances.’ He also listed Milei among some ‘very bad people’ who have reached high office.

Within hours, Milei’s office issued an official statement lambasting the Spanish prime minister.

‘Sánchez put the middle class in danger with his socialist policies that bring only poverty and death,’ said the statement. The Spanish government had also ‘endangered the unity of the kingdom’ by making a deal with a separatist party to be able to stay in power, it said.

The government reacted with fury.

‘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.

‘The government and the Spanish people will continue to maintain and strengthen their fraternal links and their relations of friendship and collaboration with the Argentine people, a desire shared by all of Spanish society,’ the statement added.

Milei will travel to Spain in two weeks for an event on 18-19 May organised by the Vox party. He is not scheduled to meet Sánchez or king Felipe VI.

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