UK Ambassador to Chile apologises for Falklands tweet

Ambassador Jon Benjamin (Photo: Foreign Office).

Ambassador Jon Benjamin (Photo: Foreign Office).

Britain’s Ambassador to Chile Jon Benjamin has apologised for a tweet which suggested Argentinians lost the Falklands War because they are “cowards”.

His post, written in Spanish, referenced a lewd football chant sung by Chilean fans when their team plays Argentina. The chant translates as: “Argentines, gays, they took the Falklands off you because you are cowards.”

Mr Benjamin said the tweet had been intended as a private message to a friend. The message alluded to the song, saying: “Which islands did they take off you and for being what?”

Clearly pleased at having secured a ticket to watch the World Cup qualifying match between Chile and Argentina on Tuesday night, he continued: “Perhaps I’ll discover the answer at the national stadium on Tuesday? I’ve already got my ticket.”

The Falklands reference provoked outrage from Argentines and Chileans alike. A Buenos Aires TV station accused Mr Benjamin of disrespecting the nation. Chilean ex-telecommunications minister Pablo Bello was equally critical. He tweeted: "Your comments are in bad taste, ambassador. You don't need to appeal to Chilean nationalist chauvinism to fulfil your diplomatic mission. Doing so reflects badly on you."

On Twitter the diplomat, who describes himself as a “Jewish atheist”, received abusive responses threatening violence and making antisemitic remarks. One tweeter called him an “ugly Jew”, another said “‘Jewish’ says it all. Nasty.”

Mr Benjamin, who has been ambassador to Santiago since December 2009, has since removed the tweet and apologised.

“I’m sorry I offended with a private message that I published by mistake,” he said. “I feel great affection for my Argentine friends and respect for their national side.”

Last updated: 9:45am, October 17 2012