Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Spain withdraws its ambassador to Argentina over President Milei's insults, escalating crisis

News

Spain withdraws its ambassador to Argentina over President Milei's insults, escalating crisis
News

News

Spain withdraws its ambassador to Argentina over President Milei's insults, escalating crisis

2024-05-22 02:37 Last Updated At:02:40

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.”

Spain said its ambassador to Argentina would remain indefinitely in Madrid, where she had been recalled for consultations Sunday in response to comments made by President Milei during a contentious weekend visit he made to the Spanish capital. In a fiery speech defending free market capitalism at a far-right rally in Madrid, Milei accused the Spanish prime minister’s wife of corruption and described socialism as “cursed and carcinogenic."

More Images
A portrait of the Kings of Spain hangs on a wall at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.”

People have lunch at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People have lunch at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A coat of arms decorates the door of the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A coat of arms decorates the door of the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People jog past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People jog past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

FILE - A man walks dogs past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, May 20, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File)

FILE - A man walks dogs past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, May 20, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File)

FILE - Argentina's president Javier Milei gestures as he delivers a speech on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 19, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

FILE - Argentina's president Javier Milei gestures as he delivers a speech on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 19, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

Following Milei's refusal to apologize, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told reporters Tuesday that “Argentina will continue without an ambassador," speaking with a measure of incredulity that Milei would treat Spain this way.

“We are facing a unique case, not only unique for this government, but unique in the history of international relations,” Albares said. “There is no precedent for a head of state going to the capital of another country to insult its institutions.”

Milei — who has found himself embroiled in diplomatic quarrels across the region and has referred to his opponents as “human excrement” — has never been seen as the most tactful occupant of Argentina's highest office.

He continued lashing out at Spain on Tuesday, telling the local La Nación news channel that the Spanish decision was “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist."

“Socialists are capable of doing anything,” he added. But he did not immediately retaliate. When asked whether Argentina would do the same, Milei said: “I am not going to be such an idiot.”

The surprise move escalates a long-running diplomatic spat between the socialist government of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Milei's libertarian administration. Sánchez first incurred Milei's wrath when he backed his left-wing opponent in last year's presidential election and declined to congratulate Milei on his victory.

Tensions mounted amid a barrage of insults in recent weeks as Sánchez's Cabinet ministers alleged Milei had taken narcotics during a TV appearance and Milei accused Sánchez of pursuing policies that “only bring poverty and death.”

Defying the norms of presidential behavior, Milei snubbed all Spanish government officials on his first visit to Spain as head of state last week and instead met only Sánchez's fiercest critics, members of the hard-right, anti-immigrant Vox party that hopes to make gains in June’s European parliamentary elections.

Analysts said that Milei's diplomatic saber-rattling serves a bigger political agenda.

“Milei might be sensing that the socialist party has short legs, and so he's trying to prepare Argentina to get a really close ally when Spain gets a right-wing government, in the same way he's betting on Trump,” said Sebastián Mazzuca, an Argentine political scientist at Johns Hopkins University. “Milei is taking gambles, taking risks.”

The foreign minister, Albares, complained Milei had used his visit to poke Spain in the eye, breaking diplomatic protocol that Latin American countries and their former colonizer have long observed.

At the Vox party rally Sunday, Milei delivered his typical anti-socialism talking points and mocked Sánchez for taking a break from public view last month over corruption allegations brought by an activist group against his wife, Begona Gomez. The private group, which files lawsuits to promote far-right causes, accused Gomez of using her position to influence business deals.

Gomez has not been indicted or called in for questioning. Spanish prosecutors have recommended the case be thrown out.

The fallout with Spain, a significant investment partner for Argentina, could have lasting political and economic consequences for President Milei, who has promised to rescue the country's long-troubled economy through austerity.

Spain is Argentina’s second-biggest foreign investor after the United States, with Spanish companies investing 140 million euros ($152 million) in the country in 2022. Some 495,000 Spaniards live in Argentina, according to Spanish government statistics, while 97,000 Argentines reside in Spain.

Over the weekend, Milei also met with Spanish business executives. One of them, Antonio Garamendi, president of the main Spanish business council, said he “profoundly rejected” Milei's “off-key remarks” about the Spanish government in an interview with major local radio station Ser.

“Milei is trying to prove that commercial relations are a market issue that goes on one track and political issues are on another track,” said Mazzuca, the political scientist. “I don't know if that's going to work.”

Associated Press writer Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.

A portrait of the Kings of Spain hangs on a wall at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A portrait of the Kings of Spain hangs on a wall at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People have lunch at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People have lunch at the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A coat of arms decorates the door of the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A coat of arms decorates the door of the Spanish restaurant Paxapoga in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People jog past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

People jog past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday as Spain announced the official withdrawal of its ambassador. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

FILE - A man walks dogs past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, May 20, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File)

FILE - A man walks dogs past Spain's embassy in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, May 20, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File)

FILE - Argentina's president Javier Milei gestures as he delivers a speech on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 19, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

FILE - Argentina's president Javier Milei gestures as he delivers a speech on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 19, 2024. A diplomatic crisis between historic allies Spain and Argentina expanded Tuesday, May 21, 2024, as Spain pulled its ambassador from Buenos Aires and Argentine President Javier Milei lambasted the move as “nonsense typical of an arrogant socialist.” (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

Next Article

Thousands in Kenya demonstrate against proposed new taxes

2024-06-21 11:31 Last Updated At:11:40

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Thousands of mostly young people demonstrated Thursday in Kenya’s capital and across the country against new tax proposals by the administration of President William Ruto in its annual budget legislation.

The protests brought Nairobi’s central business district to a standstill as horse-riding riot police threw tear-gas cannisters and opened water cannons on demonstrators who advanced towards parliament buildings, where lawmakers debated the finance bill.

The protesters, who began their demonstrations in a first round on Tuesday, are demanding that lawmakers vote against the legislation, which is expected to be burdensome for salaried Kenyans, entrepreneurs and consumers. They say Ruto has gone back on his pledge to reduce taxes and lower the cost of living.

The new taxes would include a 2.75% levy on income for the national medical insurance plan, as well as increased taxes on vegetable oil and fuel, which would increase the cost of production and trickle down to the consumer.

Proposals to introduce a 16% value-added tax on bread and a new annual tax on motor vehicles were removed from the legislation Tuesday after a meeting between Ruto and ruling party members.

But those who demonstrated Thursday said the amendments did not go far enough and that they want legislators to totally reject the budget legislation.

“Our parents have been taxed dry, yet there’s no development to show for it. We reject any additional taxes and will stay on the streets for as long as it takes,” Ashley Mwai said.

The 19-year-old who has never voted said the new taxes have made her get involved in politics for the first time for the sake of her parents who do not have the energy to join protests.

“As much as I’m not earning an income yet, additional taxes will increase the prices of food and transport, making life unbearable for us young people,” Mwai said.

Businessman Walter Mwangi, 34, said he’s struggling to earn a living because taxes are already crippling his consultancy business. "We are sick and tired,” Mwangi said.

Lawmakers were debating and voting Thursday on the legislation in its second reading. It is due for its third and final reading next week. Meanwhile, demonstrators tried to breach a security cordon to access parliament buildings, carrying anti-government placards and chanting against Ruto.

The president was attending a university event in the southeastern town of Garissa where anti-government protesters lined the street leading to the event venue.

Young people also demonstrated in the president's home turf of Eldoret town, where they told journalists they had been duped into voting for Ruto.

Ruto said earlier in the week that the protests were a constitutional right, but that government institutions must carry out their mandate.

“We are a democratic country. Those who want to demonstrate it is their right, no problem. But decisions have to be made by institutions," Ruto said Wednesday.

"We will make decisions as an executive, take it to the legislature, people of Kenya will speak to it through public participation, others will subject it to court processes and that is how democracy works and I am a great believer in democracy,” he said.

Tuesday's protests saw more than 200 people arrested and later released.

The right to protest is enshrined in the Kenyan constitution and organizers have to notify police who often give a go-ahead unless there are security concerns. Previous anti-government protests in Nairobi have often been met by police force with protesters in the past shot at by the police.

A protester uses a fire extinguisher during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

A protester uses a fire extinguisher during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Demonstrators run from police during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Demonstrators run from police during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Police officers fire tear gas canisters during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Police officers fire tear gas canisters during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Demonstrators run from police during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Demonstrators run from police during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

A protesters throws back a teargas canister at police officers during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

A protesters throws back a teargas canister at police officers during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

Recommended Articles