On January 26, Patricia Janiot, in her talk show Break Poin, aired a conversation with right-wing Argentine President Javier Milei that has caused heated reactions across Colombia.
The 44-minute interview could have gone unnoticed: Milei detailed Argentina’s economic problems, talked about his Ley de Bases, and discussed his intentions to deregulate the country’s economy. These topics have been well worn subject matter ever since he launched his campaign.
But then came one brief moment, which lasted no more than 5 seconds, when Janiot asked Milei about different figures in current Latin American politics — including Colombian President Gustavo Petro.
Milei’s description of the head of state as a “communist murderer who is sinking Colombia” caused an earthquake in international relations, with supporters supporting the claim while others took great offense.
The Colombian Foreign Ministry issued a statement. “The government of Colombia strongly rejects this statement, which attacks the honor of the president who has been democratically and legitimately elected. President Milei’s words disregard and violate the deep ties of friendship, understanding, and cooperation that have historically united Colombia and Argentina,, and that have been strengthened over two centuries.”
Petro, in a speech in Tumaco, also made news; “It is not about — because they attack us as communists, socialists — the state being the owner of the means of production. Of course, those who attack us have no idea what is communism and what is socialism.”
Although the words were not directly intended as a response to Milei, many media outlets understood them as such.
This was, of course, also not the beginning of this saga.
A few days before Milei won the presidential election against candidate Sergio Massa, Petro stated his support for “hope” and not “barbarism.” From is X account, Petro even compared Milei to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla.
Milei, at the time, was being questioned for putting Victoria Villarruel, a military daughter who justifies Videla’s military dictatorship, as his vice-presidential candidate.
More recently, when Milei pledged to pull back free public education in Argentina, Petro got back into the debate with another post on X
“We will receive 20,000 Colombian students who were educated for free in Argentina. They are literally expelled from that country, for them there was no so-called ‘freedom.’ We will manage so that they can continue their studies in Colombia without major obstacle and also for free.”
(Photo: Argentine President Javier Milei. (Photo credit: Cancillería Argentina)