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Uruguay’s Mujica Says Fernandez Worse Than Husband, Stubborn

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April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica, speaking without realizing a microphone was on, said today that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is “worse” than her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner.

“This old lady is worse than the cross-eyed man,” Mujica, 77, said, according to a video posted on Todo Noticias Television channel website and audio posted on Uruguay’s El Observador. “He was more of a politician, she’s stubborn.”

Relations between the neighboring countries have deteriorated since Fernandez restricted imports and tightened controls on the exchange market. The measures, which limit access to foreign currencies, have hurt Uruguay’s exports and tourism industry. A $1.1 billion investment by Finland’s Metsae-Botnia Oy in a pulp mill on the river bordering both countries led to a four-year bridge blockade by Argentine who accused Uruguay of violating an international accord on the river’s use.

In 2007, when then Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez allowed the pulp mill to start operations, Kirchner told him that he had “stabbed Argentina in the back.” In 2002, Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle accused Argentines of being a “bunch of thieves,” a comment for which he later apologized during a trip to Buenos Aires.

Mujica, a former guerrilla who took office in 2010, said later today that he didn’t publicly speak about Argentina at the event today in Uruguay and won’t offer clarifications, according to Montevideo-based newspaper El Pais.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said the comments were “unacceptable,” “denigrating” and “offensive” to the memory of the deceased Kirchner, according to an e-mailed statement addressed to Uruguay’s ambassador in Argentina. Fernandez won’t respond to the insults, Timerman said in the statement.

Kirchner, who died in October 2010 from a heart attack, was president from 2003 to 2007. Fernandez succeeded him and was re-elected in 2011.

Mujica traveled to Caracas for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s funeral last month on Fernandez’s plane.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires at eraszewski@bloomberg.net; Daniel Cancel in Buenos Aires at dcancel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net