Colombia recalls ambassador to Argentina amid Milei-Petro row

Colombia recalls ambassador to Argentina amid Milei-Petro row

Bogotá (AFP): Colombia recalled its ambassador to Argentina on Friday after Argentine President Javier Milei called Colombian leader Gustavo Petro a “murderous communist.”

Right-wing libertarian Milei on Thursday said in an interview with a Colombian journalist that Petro was “sinking Colombia.”

Petro, a former urban guerrilla, took office in August 2022 as the country’s first leftist president, with the stated goal of achieving “total peace” in a country ravaged by decades of fighting between security forces, leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.

He shot back at Milei by saying those who attack him “have no idea what is communism and what is socialism,” adding that “we are not looking for” a system where “the state owns the means of production.”

“We believe and want the means of production to be in the hands of the people and not the state,” he said.

Separately, a statement from Petro’s office on Friday said that Milei’s “irresponsible” comments “ignore and violate the deep ties of friendship, understanding and cooperation that have historically united Colombia and Argentina.”

Ambassador Camilo Romero was summoned back “for consultations,” the foreign ministry in Bogota said.

Relations between Colombia and Argentina have been historically stable, but have been deteriorating since the arrival to power of the ultra-libertarian Milei in December 2023.

As a candidate, Milei equated socialists with “human excrement” while speaking on a Colombian radio station.

Petro compared the remarks to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Later, Petro described Milei’s election victory as a “sad moment for Latin America.”

Milei came to power late last year by defeating the center-left “Peronism” political forces that had ruled Argentina since 2003, and amid roughly 200 percent inflation ravaging the country.

In addition to pushing massive spending cuts and privatization at home, he has also assailed left-wing governments across the region, including in Chile.