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  /  Investing Analysis   /  Colombia expels Argentine diplomats after Milei calls Petro ‘terrorist murderer’ in CNN interview

Colombia expels Argentine diplomats after Milei calls Petro ‘terrorist murderer’ in CNN interview

“The Argentine president’s expressions have deteriorated the trust of our nation and offended the dignity of President (Gustavo) Petro, who was elected democratically,” the Colombian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Of Petro, a former guerilla who became Colombia’s first left-wing president following a 2022 election victory, Milei said, “You can’t expect much from someone who was a terrorist murderer.”

Milei, a former television pundit with a reputation for bombast, also attacked Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the interview, calling him “ignorant.”

López Obrador, a left-wing populist, has previously criticized Milei’s policies and compared him to a dictator. On Thursday, in a post on social media, López Obrador hit back, wondering why Argentinians “voted for someone who is not right, who despises the people.”

Defense for Israel and hopes for Trump

In the nearly hour-long interview, conducted in Buenos Aires, Milei also defended Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, saying its war in Gaza is “within the rule of law.”

Milei, who was born Catholic but has expressed a wish to convert to Judaism, said that his meeting in February with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the warmest he had held since entering office.

Milei also admitted he privately hopes former President Donald Trump wins the US election in November, but that he intends to be an ally with the United States regardless of who will be in the White House next year.

“Argentina’s allies are the United States and Israel; it’s not a secret my ideas are more akin to those of the Republican party, but we have an excellent relationship with the Democrats too,” Milei told Oppenheimer.

Central Bank is ‘mechanism of fraud’

Milei also reiterated his intention to shut down the country’s central bank, calling the institution a “mechanism of fraud.”

“A central bank is a fairly recent invention. Argentina’s was founded in 1925, and our country was a world power before that,” Milei said, without elaborating who would be responsible for fiscal policy in the country if the Central Bank ceased to exist.

Milei admitted his reform push has stalled in Argentina’s Congress in recent weeks, but his government maintains the intention to close the central bank within three years. Closing the bank was a central promise of his campaign, as he sought to assure voters he could right the country’s floundering economy.

In the interview, Milei claimed his government’s greatest success since entering office in December has been to beat the hyper-inflation and achieve a fiscal surplus for the first time in years.

Argentina’s inflation rate remains the highest in the world at over 270% year on year, but data published this month suggests that price rises have calmed in March compared to February.

Milei celebrated Argentina’s fiscal surplus, achieved last month for the first time in years, and said that fiscal stability is “a beacon” of his government.

“I’m confident that soon, inflation will go back to single digits,” Milei said. “It could be May, we are not sure, but what we are clear about is that this policy is here to stay and for us, zero deficit is like the main mast for Ulysses.”

Milei’s government achieved fiscal parity this year with a robust set of cuts to government spending, including shutting down the Argentina national press agency TELAM and reducing aid to soup kitchens in the poorest suburbs of Buenos Aires.

Argentina’s poverty rate is over 50%, according to a report from the Argentina’s Catholic University in Buenos Aires.

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