'Very ignorant': Peru claps back as Mexican leader escalates tensions

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Surveillance at the Peruvian Embassy in Mexico after the announcement of the return of the ambassador to Mexico City
Police officers stand outside the Embassy of Peru in Mexico City, a day after Peru's President Dina Boluarte announced the return of the country's ambassador to Mexico, in Mexico City, Mexico, February 25, 2023. REUTERS/Luis Cortes/File Photo

MEXICO CITY/LIMA, May 26 (Reuters) - Peru President Dina Boluarte blasted her Mexican counterpart on Friday as "very ignorant," as a dispute between the two leaders escalated over the contentious ouster of Peru's former president late last year.

Earlier on Friday, Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he does not want economic or trade ties with Peru while Boluarte is in power, though he did not specify if he would take action.

The outspoken Mexican leftist has repeatedly derided Boluarte as illegitimate. A day earlier, lawmakers in Peru declared Mexico's president was not welcome in the South American country, citing what they described as his meddling in their internal affairs.

Lopez Obrador argued the removal and subsequent jailing of Peru's former president, Pedro Castillo, last December was unconstitutional, and on Friday Mexico's leader turned up the rhetorical volume.

"So long as there isn't democratic normalcy in Peru, we don't want economic or trade relations with them," he said.

Boluarte had a ready response when asked by reporters in Lima.

"Very ignorant given the intelligence of the Mexican people," she said.

Lopez Obrador has repeatedly backed fellow leftist Castillo, a former rural school teacher who only lasted 17-months in office.

The Mexican leader reiterated that he will not hand over the rotating presidency of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc to Peru, and on Friday said is willing to give it to Chile.

"I will not give it to the lady who is usurping the presidency," he said.

Diplomatic relations between the two Latin American nations were already strained

Last December, Boluarte's government ordered Mexico's ambassador to Lima to exit the country following Lopez Obrador's early comments condemning Castillo's ouster. Boluarte then announced in February the withdrawal of Peru's ambassador to Mexico, in response to comments from Lopez Obrador branding her government as unconstitutional.

Peru's Congress has also classified Colombia's President Gustavo Petro "persona non grata" for similar criticisms of Boluarte.

Reporting by Valentine Hilaire in Mexico City and Marco Aquino in Lima; Writing by Isabel Woodford; Editing by David Alire Garcia and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Valentine, a French-Panamanian who majored in journalism and philosophy, joined Reuters in December 2021 after spending eight years in Spain. She studied at the University of Navarra and after graduation held different roles at Spanish news outlets 'El Español', 'El Confidencial', and 'La Información'. Valentine has helped boost the team's win rate, broke news on high-profile developments, and collaborated with the Spanish service and polling teams. She spends her free time producing podcasts, playing violin, trying to learn Mandarin, and searching for the best cafes in town.