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Argentina’s president Javier Milei has sparked a diplomatic spat with Colombia after calling Colombian President Gustavo Petro a “terrorist”, “murderer”, and “communist” in a recent interview with CNN. Colombia has responded by ordering the expulsion of Argentinian diplomats from the Andean nation, citing Milei’s “denigrating” comments that have offended the dignity of President Petro. The two countries have historically had stable relations, but tensions have escalated since Milei took office last November after winning a surprise election with promises to abolish the central bank and significantly cut public spending.

President Petro, Colombia’s first left-wing leader and a former member of the demobilised M-19 rebel movement, has been the target of Milei’s criticism for his armed group past. Milei’s aggressive style of politics has drawn comparisons to former US President Donald Trump, with his conservative stance on social issues such as opposing abortion and sex education, as well as his disdain for political correctness. He has also equated socialists with “human excrement” in previous remarks, prompting Petro to liken him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and describing Milei’s victory as a “sad moment for Latin America”.

Colombia’s foreign ministry did not specify the number of diplomats being expelled from the Argentine embassy in Bogota, but the decision will be communicated through diplomatic channels. This move comes after a similar incident in January when Colombia recalled its ambassador to Argentina following Milei’s derogatory comments towards President Petro. The deteriorating relationship between the two countries has raised concerns about the future of their diplomatic ties and cooperation on regional issues.

Milei’s rise to power in Argentina comes amid an ongoing economic crisis with inflation exceeding 200 percent annually and poverty affecting over 40 percent of the population. His outspoken rhetoric and controversial statements have divided public opinion in Argentina and strained relations with other Latin American leaders. In addition to targeting President Petro, Milei has also taken swipes at other regional leaders, including Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, further complicating diplomatic relations in the region.

The escalating tension between Argentina and Colombia highlights the challenges of maintaining diplomatic relations in the face of provocative rhetoric and personal attacks by political leaders. The fallout from Milei’s comments has raised questions about the future of cooperation between the two countries and the potential impact on regional stability. As the situation continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how both governments will navigate the fallout and work towards resolving their differences in a diplomatic manner.

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