Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta admitted Thursday that “tensions” are running high in the Juntos por el Cambio coalition after a week in which opposition infighting dominated the political press.
Rodríguez Larreta, a likely presidential candidate in next year’s elections, admitted that relations between some PRO party leaders had been strained by a challenging week in which fellow Casa Rosada hopeful Patricia Bullrich seemed to threaten one of his close aides.
However, the City mayor said he did not want to “get involved in fights, because that is bad for the unity of Juntos por el Cambio.
"I don't get involved for one minute in internal discussions and fights. It is a conviction. I don't fight, I don't answer, I don't get involved," he declared in comments designed to put a lid on the issue.
Nevertheless, Rodríguez Larreta freely admitted that relations were strained.
"I'm not saying that there are no internal tensions, but I don't want to fuel them, I don't want to keep adding fuel to the fire, because it's not good for Argentina, for the PRO. Tensions exist but I am not here to deepen them. We have to close the rift,” he declared.
The comments came less than a day after Bullrich criticised her fellow party peer harshly in the media. The PRO party chair accused the City mayor of sending his “soldiers” to pressure and criticise her in an extraordinary interview with journalist Cristina Perez on Radio Rivadavia.
Bullrich had reignited political tensions earlier in the week when she refused to apologise for leaked video footage that circulated online showing her clashing with Felipe Miguel, Rodríguez Larreta’s Cabinet chief at City Hall.
In the footage, recorded at Mauricio Macri’s recent book launch at La Rural, Bullrich is shown talking to Miguel (a man she later dismissed as a “second or third line” official) harshly.
"Don't cross me any more on TV because next time I'll break your face,” said the former security minister, who intends to run for the Casa Rosada next year. “You can't fuck with me,” she continues. “I'm warning you."
Miguel, who later described the incident as “unacceptable,” responds by trying to embrace her.
Asked about the incident in her radio interview, Bullrich refused to back down.
“If there is a debate, let [Rodríguez] Larreta discuss it with me, don't send me little soldiers to talk," Bullrich said on Radio Rivadavia.
In the same vein, she reiterated her dislike of Miguel. “It is not logical that a second or third line [official] then appears like this guy, who I can't even remember his name to say anything."
Asked about the episode in which he is seen threatening Miguel, the former minister stressed: "A victimiser can't come out and call himself a victim because I grab him and tell him never again to say this to me.”
The opposition leader admitted differences within her party, over which she presides, and accused the head of government of operating against her.
"We are fighting in Argentina for a profound change, and there are different ways of looking at things, and there are political practices that do not go with my political culture. I believe in transparency and truth, so it is very important that in a party like the PRO, those practices are the ones that prevail," Bullrich declared.
Analysts say the tension is down to the jockeying for the presidential race and the identity of Rodríguez Larreta’s potential replacement at City Hall.