The only thing worse than mocking an accent heard in another country is doing it publicly, via Twitter, when you're the president of Argentina, while you're in that other country on a high-stakes diplomatic visit.
"Vinieron solo por el aloz y petloleo," Kirchner wrote, replacing rs with ls in both instances. The English equivalent would look something like this: "Did they only come for lice and petloleum." Here's the full tweet, which, as you can see, has been eagerly retweeted and as of 12:30 p.m. still hadn't been deleted:
Más de 1.000 asistentes al evento… ¿Serán todos de “La Cámpola” y vinieron sólo por el aloz y el petlóleo? …— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) February 4, 2015
Kirchner, to be fair, did follow up with a half-apology, which blamed "ridiculousness" and "absurdity" for the need for humor. "If not, it's very, very toxic," it said.
Sorry. ¿Sabes qué? Es que es tanto el exceso del ridículo y el absurdo, que sólo se digiere con humor. Sino son muy, pero muy tóxicos.— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) February 4, 2015
But what Kirchner seems to misunderstand is that her sense of humor is questionable at best. It was in poor taste for her to mock an Asian accent, especially while sitting with the Chinese president, negotiating with him, no less, for money.
Argentina has been working with China to secure a currency swap, which will help Argentina boost its dwindling reserves. And that's on top of the billions Argentina already receives from China each year. Why make fun of the hand that feeds you? Who knows.
Kirchner's tasteless tweet comes on the heels of a separate and much more serious public relations problem. A leading prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish Center in Argentina in 1994 turned up dead shortly after accusing the Argentine government of working to cover up the inquiry. Kirchner originally called the prosecutor's death a suicide before backtracking on her suggestion and saying instead that the death was part of a plot to undermine her government.
Kirchner's approval rating has fallen by seven points since November and now stands below 40 percent, according to a poll conducting Wednesday morning by Carlos Fara and Associates. It's hard to imagine this latest gaffe will help reverse that trend.