By Dave Sherwood
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile´s foreign ministry said Sunday it was “astonished” by comments from Argentine President Alberto Fernandez who recently met with Chilean opposition leaders, lambasting its neighbor for “meddling in the internal affairs of Chile.”
Fernandez, a center-left Peronist, met Friday by video conference with members of the progressive Puebla Group, founded by lefists like Ecuador´s Rafael Correa, Brazil´s Lula da Silva and Uruguay´s Jose Musica, among others.
In the meeting, organized by Chile´s opposition, Fernandez encouraged the country´s left-leaning parties to “overcome their differences and return to power on behalf of Chileans,” according to media reports posted on the Puebla Group´s website.
He told the group, which included leaders of Chile´s influential Socialist, Communist and Christian Democratic parties, that he was “happy with what he was seeing in Chile,” the media reports said.
Chile´s foreign ministry rebuked Fernandez´s comments in a statement on Sunday, saying they “do not contribute to advancing a bilateral agenda that has been fruitful and which has been developed by diverse governments in both countries.”
Chile and Argentina, separated geographically by the Andes Mountains of South America, are long time rivals and have often been at odds politically.
Chile´s right-leaning President Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire businessman, faced months of often violent protests over inequality in late 2019.
The protests, sparked by a hike in metro fares, saw the military take to the streets for the first time since the dictatorship of strongman Augusto Pinochet. They wrought billions in damages to infrastructure and business.
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; editing by Diane Craft)