In the last three years Pope Francis has earned a reputation as a savvy political player, acknowledged by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro as the man behind the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and by Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in stopping a U.S.-led coalition from invading Syria in 2013.

Yet when it comes to his home country of Argentina, Pope Francis’ role is less clear, and it’s considerably harder for him to operate behind the scenes when the entire nation hangs on his every word, deed and gesture.

In the attempt to understand his thinking on Argentine affairs, some people have gone so far as reading his tweets, which logic would suggest are addressed to his 28 million followers around the world, as a “direct message” to recently-elected President Mauricio Macri – a market-oriented conservative and, therefore, some Argentines assume, a figure of whom Francis does not approve.

To take just one example, of the many available: On May 2, meaning a day after International Workers Day (“Labor Day” in some countries), Francis’ twitter account sent out this message:

Argentine commentators and observers, claiming sources close to Macri had made the connection first, linked that tweet, sent out through the pope’s nine accounts, to a strike in Argentina several labor movements had organized some days before.

Argentine ego aside – which Francis once said is sufficiently high that one could commit suicide by getting on top of it and jumping – the ferment serves to illustrate something Francis himself reportedly said in recent days to a long-time friend, Luis Liberman.

“The media wants to portray me as the head of [Macri’s] opposition,” Francis allegedly told Liberman, an Argentine politician and a former education official in Buenos Aires, during a phone conversation last week.

According to AICA, the news agency of Argentina’s bishops’ conference, Francis said that he’s “beyond internal affairs” and that he prays for “unity and peace” in Argentina.

Around the same time, he also called another Argentine friend, Father Fabian Baez and they talked about Margarita Barrientos, a woman from humble origins and founder of a soup-kitchen called “Los Piletones” on the outskirts of Francis’ former archdiocese, Buenos Aires.

Barrientos, many would argue, is a warrior against what the pope has labeled a “throw-away culture”: day in and day out, through her NGO, she feeds over 1,800 children, runs a day center for the elderly, a pharmacy where people can get free medicine, runs different formation projects such as woodworking to give unemployed youth a brighter future, and so on.

Yet, some say, Barrientos has a flaw: she’s close to Macri.

Speaking to a local TV show on Thursday, Barrientos revealed that back in 2013, only weeks after Francis election, she had traveled to the Vatican with two other people specifically to meet the pontiff.

Yet, according to her version of the story, the three were kicked out of St. Peter’s Square where they were attending the weekly Wednesday audience. She said that it had been “a political move,” linked to her friendship with Macri.

“Unfortunately, he [the pope] acted on political grounds,” she said. “That part hurt a bit.”

Yet according to Baez, Pope Francis never even knew Barrientos was in Rome.

“The pope just called me. He assured me that he never knew that Margarita Barrientos was in the Vatican,” he tweeted out Friday.

Speaking to a local news agency, Baez described the situation as a “misunderstanding.”

Barrientos’ statements came as news made the rounds of another Argentinian social activist, this one with tight links to the country’s former center-left president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who’s flying to Rome later in the month to meet the pope.

If she gets the green light from doctors to make the 14-hour flight from Buenos Aires to the Italian capital, Hebe de Bonafini, one of the founders of “Madres of Plaza de Mayo,” a movement born to fight for the rights of the thousands desaparecidos of the country’s last military coup, will meet Francis on May 27.

Bonafini is on record calling the pontiff a “fascist,” accusing him of collaborating with Argentina’s military regime, and asking, “Where was God when they threw our children to the sea?”

In 2008, the movement she leads occupied the Buenos Aires cathedral and “improvised” a bathroom behind the altar.

Yet since his election to the papacy she’s changed her tone, admitting that she was quick to judge then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Regarding the meeting and what she plans to discuss with the pontiff, Bonafini is keeping quiet, only saying that she’s going to request specific things and that her intention is to see these things realized, not “published.”

The private encounter comes after several invitations from the pope, which she always refused. Last year, she posed a set of “conditions” to meet Francis, including a public admission from the Church of having “a lot of participation in [Argentina’s] repression” and for him to celebrate a Mass for priests and nuns tercermundistas, who’ve disappeared in Latin America.

[The “Priests for the Third World” was a religious movement born in Argentina, made mostly of priests working in the slums, associated with Marxism. They are largely considered an Argentinian forerunner to liberation theology].

Despite the apparent tensions, sources close to Macri insist relations between Argentina and the Vatican are good, despite the barely 22-minute audience he had with Francis back in February, the shortest this pope has had with a world leader to date.

There are several issues on which Francis and Macri don’t see eye to eye, and local newspapers speak of the pontiff fearing the current government will rule “for the rich.”

There’s also no shortage of rumors as to where the friction between the former cardinal and the mayor of Buenos Aires originated, with some saying it was Macri’s tepid opposition to Argentina’s gay marriage law in 2010.

Yet if this was truly the only problem, then Francis probably wouldn’t have received Kirchner several times, all of them in his private residence, with over 30 people joining her on those trips to Rome, since it was her government that passed the law.

Gustavo Vera, a politician close to Francis, recently speculated the pontiff had been welcoming towards Kirchner because he feared a “political strike” against her, in a country where only a handful of presidents were able to finish their corresponding terms in the last 100 years.

All of which, perhaps, illustrates a simple point: Because Francis is their pope, Argentines can’t help but see a message directed at them in virtually everything he says or does, whether it’s actually intended that way or not.