Left parties in the Spanish Congress criticized Wednesday the presence of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with one lawmaker greeting him with a shirt demanding the release of Milagro Sala, an Indigenous activist and lawmaker who was dubbed the first "political prisoner" of Macri's administration when she was arrested after a protest in January 2016.
Macri also received a letter from the left-wing party Podemos party requesting the release of the activist, who has been in jail for more than a year. After his address to Congress, none of the Podemos lawmakers applauded.
In a second rejection to Macri’s visit, the same party announced its members will not participate in the state dinner that the Spanish king will offer on Wednesday in honor of the Argentine president, his wife Juliana Awada and his team. All parties in Congress are often invited for celebrations as part of official visits by presidents or heads of state.
Upon his arrival, President Macri also shook the hand of lawmaker Irene Montero, a spokesperson for Podemos, who wore a white t-shirt with a drawing of Sala and in black letters the phrase "Free Milagro."
Irene Moreno received Macri in the Spanish Congress with a t-shirt that asks "Freedom for Milagro Sala."
Montero called Macri "an offshore agent," referring to his use of tax havens revealed through the Panama Papers leak last year that identified Macri as one of a dozen global power players with assets in offshore companies.
"It’s not necessary to do those acts of honoring a president of the type of Macri," said Montero during a press conference Tuesday. She also accused him of being "responsible for human rights violations".
Meanwhile, Lawmaker Anton Gomez-Reino blasted the visit, saying that the Congress "is not a chamber of commerce in the service of the Popular Party of (Primer Minister Mariano) Rajoy and President Macri. Congress is not a platform for his friends’ businesses."
Iñigo Errejon, also from Podemos, said he was troubled by the fact that Macri called the parliamentary coup in Brazil against former President Dilma Rousseff “a political change.”
Meanwhile, back in Argentina various workers’ organizations called a massive protest in the capital city of Buenos Aires to protest the Macri government. The movements have also suggested that the may set up an encampment in the center of the capital city to continue the protest against also said they could set up a camp under the emblematic obelisk monument in the center of the city.