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Argentina and Colombia Seek to Mend Relationship After Presidents Butt Heads

Maxwell Kastner
Staff Writer

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The governments of Argentina and Colombia have found themselves working to restore a friendly relationship in the wake of a dispute that started in late March of this year. According to a March 31 joint statement from both countries, “The respective governments have taken concrete steps to overcome any differences and strengthen this relationship,” according to Reuters

With nearly four months under his belt as President of Argentina, Javier Milei has made a name for himself as an agitator with his controversial policy and abrasive language. Jurist shares that the dispute between the two countries was ignited by an interview with CNN where Milei stated that “one can’t expect much from someone who was a terrorist murderer” about Colombian President Gustavo Petro, whom Milei also offhandedly called a “communist” during the same interview.

Shortly after the interview on March 27, The Chancellery of Colombia responded to Milei’s comments in a press communication. The communication expressed that “The remarks of the Argentine president have deteriorated the trust of our nation,” and that they have “offended the dignity of President Petro.” The communication also clarified that Petro was “elected in a democratic manner,” dispelling Milei’s allegation that he is a communist. The communication concluded with the expression of Colombia’s intent to immediately expel an unspecified number of Argentine diplomats from the nation. 

Since the communication from The Chancellery of Colombia, the two countries have allegedly began to work together to repair relations. The Associated Press informs that Colombia has repealed its threat to remove Argentine Diplomats from Colombia, even going as far as to state that they will approve Argentina’s newly appointed ambassador. Argentina has made steps to improve relations as well, announcing plans to send its foreign minister to Bogota. 

Milei and Petro come from opposing political ideologies and have a history filled with tension since Milei was elected in November of this year. Al Jazeera reports that shortly after Milei’s election, Petro declared the victory as “a sad moment for Latin America.” Moreover, Petro compared Milei’s derogatory remarks towards socialism to those of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Al Jazeera also points out that In January, Colombia removed its ambassador from Argentina after Milei made similar comments, calling Petro a “murderous communist who is sinking Colombia.”

According to Reuters, Milei’s repeated accusations of Petro’s communist ties have to do with the Colombian president’s past involvement in the long-demobilized 19th of April (M-19) guerrilla movement. The M-19 was a military group founded by young Colombian activists in the 1970s that sought to build democracy and bridge the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished people of the nation. The M-19 is well known for its 1985 siege of the Palace of Justice in Bogota that resulted in over 100 deaths. The New York Times reports that Petro joined the group when he was 17 and spent 10 years in the organization. At the time that the Palace of Justice was sieged, Petro was imprisoned due to his involvement with the M-19. 

Prominent voices across Latin America have criticized both Presidents Milei and Petro for their handling of the situation. The former president of Colombia, Ivan Duque, recently gave his opinion in an interview with CNN: “I believe that the relations between countries cannot be simply guided by the in-the-moment opinions of leaders. I believe it’s necessary that this deescalates, and I believe that they must search for a solution through opportune diplomatic channels. Not with tantrums, nor attacks, nor with the personalization of international relations.”

Image courtesy of Getty Images

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