MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Uruguay’s President José Mujica was left red-faced on Thursday after disparaging remarks apparently aimed at Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner and her late husband were picked up by an open microphone.
“This old hag is worse than the cross-eyed man,” Mujica was caught saying at the start of a news conference while speaking quietly with another official.
According to El Observador newspaper, which posted the audio on its website, Mujica was referencing Cristina Kirchner and her spouse Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack in 2010.
Mujica did not realize that the microphones were already on, according to the newspaper.
Word of the slip-up brought down the paper’s website, which recorded historic traffic, according to the outlet’s digital content manager.
The comment also quickly gained traction on social media.
Within an hour, Mujica told the online version of La República newspaper that he had not talked or mentioned anything about Argentina and was not going to clarify anything.
Mujica, 77, is a former guerilla who took office in 2010. Nestor Kirchner was Argentina’s president from 2003 to 2007. His wife Cristina succeeded him and won re-election in 2011.