Milei keeps insults flying as Spain pulls out ambassador

Pedro Sanchez (L) withdrew Madrid's ambassador to Buenos Aires after Argentina President Javier Milei refused to apologise for calling his wife 'corrupt' (Pau BARRENA)
Pedro Sanchez (L) withdrew Madrid's ambassador to Buenos Aires after Argentina President Javier Milei refused to apologise for calling his wife 'corrupt' (Pau BARRENA)

Argentina's President Javier Milei fired off more insults Tuesday at Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, even as Madrid withdrew its ambassador in a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Milei branded Sanchez an "arrogant socialist" with an "inferiority complex" and recommended he see a psychologist, further stoking tensions.

Argentina's fiery libertarian president was reacting to Spain withdrawing its ambassador to Buenos Aires over the weekend after Milei said Sanchez had a "corrupt wife."

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said the envoy "will remain definitively in Madrid. Argentina will no longer have a Spanish ambassador."

"There is no precedent for a head of state coming to the capital of another country to insult its institutions and blatantly interfere in its internal affairs," he told a press conference.

Milei swiftly responded to Madrid's move, saying it was "absurd, typical of an arrogant socialist."

Later, on X, he continued to provoke Sanchez, announcing he would return to Madrid on June 21 to receive an award from a liberal institute.

"We will see how deep the totalitarianism runs in his blood... We will see if his great inferiority complex allows the Spanish liberals to award me in person," wrote Milei.

- 'A corrupt wife' -

Milei caused outrage with an attack on socialism at the weekend while at a Madrid conference organised by the far-right Vox party.

"The global elites don't realise how destructive it can be to implement the ideas of socialism," Milei said.

"They don't know the type of society and country that can produce, the type of people clinging to power and the level of abuse that generates."

He added: "When you have a corrupt wife, let's say, it gets dirty, and you take five days to think about it."

Sanchez, a Socialist, recently considered resigning after Spanish prosecutors opened a preliminary corruption investigation against his wife, Begona Gomez, which was quickly closed.

Within hours of Milei's attack, Spain recalled its ambassador and Albares slammed the visiting president's "insult."

He demanded a "public apology" from Milei, who refused to back down, describing the Spanish premier as a "coward."

"I am in no way going to apologise to him," he said during an interview with the TN channel on Monday.

"I'm the one who was attacked," Milei added, recalling that representatives of the Spanish government had described him as "xenophobic, racist, ultra-right... a science denier, a misogynist."

Milei's Foreign Minister Diana Mondino attempted to reduce the acrimony, saying the incident was merely "an anecdote" that should not impact the bond between Spain and its former colony.

However, a group of lawmakers allied with Milei's ruling party in Congress demanded "restraint" from the president.

"In just five months, he has generated constant diplomatic crises due to his ideological bias, his intolerant fanaticism towards certain ideals... compromising Argentina's" relations with countries like China, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Spain, they said.

- Diplomatic friction -

Milei arrived in Spain on Friday and there was immediate diplomatic friction as no meetings with Sanchez or King Felipe VI were organised.

Sanchez supported Milei's rival Sergio Massa in the November election that brought him to power and had not contacted Argentina's new leader since his victory.

A self-declared "anarcho-capitalist", Milei was an outspoken outsider who swept to victory in a country weary of traditional politics and an economic crisis that has seen inflation levels of 290 percent year-on-year.

He has instituted an austerity program that has seen the government slash public subsidies, and has shown no sign of biting his tongue.

Diplomatic tensions between Spain and Argentina had been rising for weeks, and have now started to worry Spanish companies that invest $15 billion annually in Argentina.

Spanish Transport Minister Oscar Puente angered Buenos Aires by suggesting this month that Milei was on drugs.

Puente later conceded he had made a "mistake," saying he was not aware of the repercussions his comments would have, and Buenos Aires said the dispute was "over."