Argentina and Uruguay presidents could hold an unofficial meeting next Friday in Caracas when they attend the taking office ceremony of Venezuelan president next Friday, according to Montevideo diplomatic sources.
Contacts between the neighbouring leaders are frozen since Uruguay’s Jose Mujica was caught last week with an open microphone using pejorative language to refer to his peer Cristina Fernandez and her late husband Nestor Kirchner.
“We are hopeful contacts at the maximum level will be resumed. We know it’s hard for both sides, Cristina and Mujica. But the Uruguayan president has apologized publicly in his radio program and has also sent a personal letter”, said Uruguayan sources. “Caracas is an excellent place and circumstance since spot lights and microphones will be monopolized by Maduro”.
The same sources added that ‘this has not been an impediment to proceed with the established bilateral agenda and this week talks have resumed in several issues which are of great interest to Uruguay”.
The incident which made headlines across the world occurred when President Mujica was overheard with an open mike saying that “the old lady is worse than the cross-eyed” in reference to Cristina and Nestor Kirchner. However in the same conversation Mujica acknowledged that “he was more political, she’s so stubborn”.
This week Uruguay’s first Lady and Senate Speaker Lucia Topolansky again referred to the situation but tried to lower the tone of the incident arguing it was “something minor” and remarked that “public discourse” is different from an “in-house comment”.
On Monday Uruguay’s Deputy Foreign minister Roberto Conde travelled to Buenos Aires to meet with Argentine Foreign ministry representatives in order to discuss issues such as the dredging of the Martín García channel. This was the first meeting between the delegations of both countries since Mujica’s comments.
The comments led the Argentine government to make a formal protest calling the statements “insulting”, “unacceptable” and “denigrating”. Last Thursday, Mujica apologized for the statements made, asking for his “sincerest apologies for any way he may have hurt those affected” and sent a letter to President Cristina Fernandez.
Curiously, Topolansky shifted blame onto news agencies, remarking “these spy microphones end up discrediting the press,” even though Mujica’s statements had been made in front of an official microphone. The Uruguayan first lady said that both governments had decided to be silent over the matter because of its insignificance and that the media should try to highlight this instead of looking for a “scandal”.