Irene Montero in dressed-up "Freedom For Milagro Sala" t-shirt. Via El Confidencial.

Spain’s populist, left-wing political party, Podemos, has expressed its disapproval for Macri’s government and its pro-market policies, formally rebuffing him on a number of occasions during his state visit to Spain.

Disapproving of the warm, royal welcome that Macri has been given, Podemos Spokesperson, Irene Montero said to the press that “it’s not necessary to make these acts of homage and ceremony for a president of Macri’s type.” 

She also called him an “off-shore President” on her twitter account, in reference to the fact his name was included in the Panama Papers (Macri denies any wrongdoing.)

The rebuffs have come hard and fast since Macri arrived in Spain yesterday. First, Podemos refused to attend a state dinner that will be held in Macri’s honor this evening. Cambiemos Senator Federico Pinedo, took to Twitter to show his disapproval of the party’s decision, saying their attitude “is an attack against Argentina.”

 

Then, Montero, a 29 year old former-psychologist who is now a National Deputy for Madrid, greeted Macri wearing a “Freedom for Milagro Sala” t-shirt, which she also wore in the day’s session of Parliament. 

President Macri greets Podemos Spokesperson, Irene Montero, in her "Free Milagro Sala" t-shirt. Via Youtube.
President Macri greets Podemos Spokesperson, Irene Montero, in her “Free Milagro Sala” t-shirt. Via Youtube.

Controversial social leader Milagro Sala has been in preemptive prison for over a year in relation to corruption charges, though they are yet to be proven in court. The Jujuy judicial branch justifies its decision arguing that, if free, Sala could interfere with the investigation — by influencing witnesses, for example — or flee the country. The case has been highly politicized and polarized in Argentina, mainly due to Sala’s ties with the former Kirchner administration.

Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, who is backed by the Macri administration, has said numerous times that Sala should be in prison because of the acts of corruption she has committed. Others, in contrast, maintain that her imprisonment is “arbitrary” and that she is a “political prisoner.”

Indeed, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that “there are no existing legal elements that justify her being placed into custody,” and called for her release.

Podemos has actively taken up her cause. In the Spanish Parliament, they delivered Macri a letter calling for her immediate release; on her twitter account, Montero also called for Argentina to free Sala: “Liberate indigenous-rights activist and Parlasur deputy Milagro Sala, the UN demands it. Comply with Human Rights Law”.

Taken From Irene Montero's twitter.
Taken From Irene Montero’s twitter.

Macri arrived in Madrid yesterday for his first official state visit with the stated aim of “strengthening relations with Spain and increasing Argentine exportations.” It is the first time an Argentine President has stepped foot in Spain since 2012, according to La Nacion.

So far, he has used the opportunity to emphasize the “historic change” that his administration is facilitating, and to reiterate the central policy platforms of Cambiemos: “zero poverty; combating drug-trafficking; and uniting Argentines.

However not everyone is happy is convinced by his message.

In his speech to Congress, Podemos Political Secretary, Iñigo Errejón, attacked Macri’s policies, claiming they had to led to unemployment and poverty. He also criticized the Spanish government for practicing “international party politics” instead of “international affairs,” implying that they were cosying up with Macri for their own interests, and not those of the Spanish state.

“It is clear that Macri is one of you [the ruling Partido Popular, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy] when, after one year of government, he has applied massive increases in gas, water and electricity; it is clear he is one of you when, in the same year that there are 200,000 lay-offs, he comes out in the Panama Papers; ladies and gentlemen of the government, it is clear that Macri is one of you.”

Errejón, a political scientist who unsuccessfully challenged Pablo Iglesias for control of Podemos earlier this month, also said that the “zero poverty” policy attacked the “poor” rather than poverty, which is why Milagro Sala has been in jail for over a year.

He concluded his speech with an ardent cry for Argentines to “hang in there” and await the return of former President Cristina Kirchner’s Victory Front Party (FpV) to power. “Hang in there, don’t give up, we will be back,” he finished, echoing the rallying cry FpV activists and leaders resorted to after the party was defeated in 2015’s presidential elections. 

Íñigo Errejón, 33, unloading against Macri. Photo via Europe Press.
Íñigo Errejón, 33, unloading against Macri. Photo via Europe Press.