Argentina reacted coolly to an alleged critical expression from Brazilian President Lula da Silva during his recent visit to Japan and reported in the Brazilian press.
Apparently, President Lula during a meeting at the Brazilian embassy in Tokyo said that "you need a lot of balls (patience) to endure the Argentines"("temos de ter saco para aturar a Argentina.")
The expression "ter saco," while not kind is very common in colloquial Portuguese in Brazil and it means to "have patience." The Argentinean newspaper, El Clarín, however, translated it as "hay que tener bolas," meaning "you need to be macho," with an added degree of crassness.
Lula further on added that "many are recommending me to just kick the whole thing ("strategic alliance with Argentina"), but I think Brazil must tolerate the Argentines".
The expression was said in the context of reactions to recent statements by Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Rafael Bielsa criticizing Brazil's aspiration of becoming a permanent member of the Security Council if a United Nations reform program is finally approved.
President Lula da Silva also admitted to his advisors and delegation that relations with Argentine president Nestor Kirchner were not going "through the best of moments".
Argentina's Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez when asked about the incident said he preferred not to comment since he didn't know about details "in depth" and "I prefer to talk with all the facts on the table".
"The expression seems rather strong coming from a president", added Mr. Fernandez in direct reference to the report published in Folha de S. Paulo's Sunday edition.
Rifts between Presidents Kirchner and Lula have become quite common. During a recent summit in Brazil which convened South American and Arab leaders, President Kirchner left the meeting unexpectedly apparently disappointed with President Lula da Silva's foreign policy.
Argentina is insistent in privileging regional integration (Mercosur, South American community of nations), but Brazil is more interested in playing a global role and is lobbying strongly for UN Security Council reforms with Germany, Japan, India and South Africa.
In effect the Brazilian press reported Sunday that President Lula da Silva has in effect become a globe trotter with 41 overseas trips since taking office 29 months ago.
President Lula da Silva has completed three times the number of trips of US President George Bush and four times those of John Paul II who was also known as the peregrine Pope, highlighted Rio's daily Jornal do Brasil.
This article appeared originally in Mercopress - www.mercopress.com.