Britain’s ambassador to Chile has apologized for a Twitter message that indirectly referred to a vulgar chant questioning the bravery and sexual orientation of Argentines who fought in the Falklands War.
Ambassador Jon Benjamin says the tweet was meant to be private. He referred to, without actually repeating, a chant heard in Chile’s stadiums that calls Argentines gays and fools for losing the brief but bloody war that Argentina and Britain fought 30 years ago over the South Atlantic archipelago.
“Which are the islands that were taken from whom for being what?” Benjamin tweeted to his nearly 10,000 followers ahead of Chile’s World Cup qualifying match against Argentina on Tuesday. In the actual chant, the “whom” is a vulgar word for homosexuals and the “what” is a vulgar term for lazy cowards.
Benjamin, an avid soccer fan, is also known for defending gay rights in Chile and has ran a rainbow flag up the embassy’s flagpole next to the Union Jack. The ambassador often tweets on topics that range from Chilean politics and international affairs to his backstage encounters with celebrities like The Rolling Stones.
“I’m sorry to have offended with a DM private message that I published by mistake,” Benjamin tweeted after erasing the original message. “I have a great affection for my Argentine friends and respect their national team.”
Benjamin will not refer to the incident any further, said Marianne Becker, a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Santiago.
“There’s nothing else to add from what is publicly known,” Becker said. “The ambassador made public a message that should have been private (DM) and when he realized this, he retracted and offered an apology.”
The war over the islands known in Spanish as the Malvinas claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 British soldiers. Argentina continues to claim the territory.