U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had harsh words this week for the government of Argentina. In questions to the Obama administration's nominee to become U.S. ambassador, the Florida Republican said he doesn't consider Argentina an "ally" -- or that its government is a "mature democracy."
"Elections alone do not make you a democracy," Rubio said, noting President Cristina Kirchner's government interfering with the Argentine judicial system and press freedom.
"There is a very high likelihood that if you are confirmed, while you are in that post, you are going to have another similar collapse in Argentina to what you saw economically just a decade ago," he added.
The remarks Thursday by Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came during questioning of Noah Bryson Mamet, who has been nominated to the ambassadorship.
In Argentina, the government took notice.
On Friday, the foreign minister and a Cabinet chief both reacted angrily to the senators' remarks.
"In Argentina, the citizens and residents enjoy full democracy and social inclusion," Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said, according to the AP. "So what I would like to communicate to this Republican legislator is that he have respect for the offices that each of us have, just as we have respect for the United States."
One Argentine newspaper, La Nación (The Nation), published a piece in Spanish titled, "Who is Marco Rubio, the American senator critical of Argentina."
That piece, and several others, included a purported Rubio quote in which he compared Argentina to North Korea. However, Rubio made no mention of North Korea in Thursday's hearing (view his remarks, culled by Rubio's office, here, and the full hearing here).
He and Menendez did, however, compare Argentina to "growing authoritarianism" in places like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
FEB. 10 UPDATE: La Nación has admitted it erroneously reported Rubio's remarks, chalking up the mistake to a "transcription error," according to the AP.