Argentina charges Buenos Aires mayor's spokesman for praising Hitler

The lead spokesman for Buenos Aires' mayor faces criminal charges after saying Adolf Hitler "was a spectacular guy," a court source told AFP Tuesday.

Ecuadoran-born Jaime Duran Barba has been charged by federal prosector Guillermo Marijuan with voicing approval of a criminal act, the source said.

Barba is a top aide to Mauricio Macri -- the mayor who is also a possible 2015 presidential hopeful.

Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in the Americas outside the United States, with some 300,000 people.

Macri slammed his spokesman's remarks but did not say if he would be fired.

Duran Barba plunged into hot water in an interview with the weekly Noticias.

In the interview, he had compared late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez with the Nazi German leader.

They both "had huge approval ratings," he said. When a reporter said he could not compare the two, Barba shot back: "No. Hitler was a spectacular guy. He was very important in the world."

"There simply are no possible positive words for the man responsible for history's largest genocide," Macri said, while adding that he would defend his spokesman's right to free speech.

Argentina's Jewish community has faced no shortage of anti-Semitic incidents, and the country gained a reputation as a haven for Nazi war criminals after World War II.

Worse, Latin America's worst terror attack in modern history in 1994 targeted the the Jewish community and remains unsolved. The van bombing of the building of he Argentine Jewish Charities Federation, or AMIA, left 85 people dead and 300 others injured in Buenos Aires.