This hot story brought to us by MercoPress (South Atlantic News Agency).
It seems the north of Argentina is awash with Poles who are there as workers in the large yerba mate industry. Yerba Mate is a bush, a member of the Holly family, and the leaves are used for brewing the mate drink which is very popular in South America. It is in fact the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and Argentina is the world’s second largest producer after Brazil.
As far as I can tell the Mate drink is similar to tea or coffee but with far more complications going on about how to make it, when and how to drink it and so on. Caffeine content is higher than tea but less than coffee.
The diplomatic incident occurred when Guillermo Moreno, Secretary for Domestic Trade in the Argentine government visited the Yerba Mate farmers in the North Eastern province of Misiones. It was during this meeting that he referred to Poles as “bum Poles” and “stinking feet Poles”. Not what one expects from a public servant these days. It’s reasonable to assume he doesn’t have to worry about votes from the Polish community but he diversified and went on to call the local governor, Maurice Closs, a “fatty faggot”. Clearly this is a part of Argentina he’s no terribly fond of.
The Polish Ambassador in Buenos Aires, Jacek Zazanski, took decisive action by sending a politely worded letter to Moreno asking for an explanation. Moreno’s office responded by saying that he never met any Yerba Mate farmers or industrialists this year but not denying any of the fatty, bum, smelly insults.
Further investigation shows that Moreno actually makes an annual pilgrimage to Misiones to insult people. Last year, in 2011, he was also reported as saying about Closs, “tell that fatso boy to come walking to Buenos Aires so he can slim a bit”.
You can find plenty of pictures of Gobernador Closs on his website – here. Not the slimmest guy in the world but not exactly a giant porker either.
I’m inclined to blame everything on the Secretary for Domestic Trade myself. This Argentinean government has been behaving rather badly in general recently, what with insulting Poles and making renewed threats about the Falkland Islands just because they realise they’ve missed out on billions of barrels of oil.
We will follow the insults of Moreno, the bent-nosed, moustache-bearing wally, as they develop.