By Misión Verdad– Aug 16, 2023
In Argentina’s recent presidential primaries (PASO), which is considered a political thermometer of the electorate, there was an unexpected change in politics ahead of the October elections.
The results showed Javier Milei, congressman and representative of the Libertad para Avanzar party, as the winner with 30.1% of the votes.
This placed him above prominent political figures such as Patricia Bullrich (28%) of the Together for Change (Juntos por el Cambio) coalition, which has the support of Mauricio Macri, as well as Sergio Massa (27%), the minister of economy in the Peronist bloc that is currently in power.
Milei identifies himself a “libertarian” and “anarcho-capitalist” and an admirer of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro. He has been featured in the media for his controversial—and fascist—positions on issues, as he advocates for the prohibition of abortion, the liberalization of the sale of arms and human organs, and he places the state as the main enemy.
A libertarian who promises to close the Central Bank
Javier Milei gained notoriety thanks to his appearances on television and his aggressive discourse. Although he was an unknown in the public world not long ago, today he presents himself as the savior of the so-called moral revolution and he claims to oppose all traditional politicians in the country, whom he refers to as “the caste.”
In 2019 he began to actively participate in politics by supporting the Despertar Front, led by José Luis Espert, another liberal economist.
Milei soon distanced himself from Espert due to ideological and personal differences, leading Milei to decide to launch his own party, La Libertad Avanza (LLA), with the aim of running as a candidate for national deputy of the city of Buenos Aires in the general elections of 2021, in which deputies and senators of the Congress of the nation were chosen.
In the PASO of that year, Milei obtained 13.66% of the votes, which placed him in third place behind the ruling party and the opposition. In his electoral debut he obtained 17% of the votes, which ratified his coalition as the third political force in the capital of the country.
In 2022, he consolidated his rise by winning the general elections with 30.5% of the votes, thus becoming the most voted congressman in Argentinian history.
What are his most questioned government proposals? Milei considers the Argentinian peso an unviable currency, and that the only solution is to adopt the US dollar as the official one, as well as to eliminate the Central Bank and monetary policy.
- Privatize healthcare, education and state enterprises, based on the argument that the private system provides better services.
- Eliminate all ministries, leaving only those of economy, justice, interior, security, defense and foreign affairs.
- An economic reform based on the reduction of public spending and taxes, as well as the elimination of public works.
- In terms of energy, he aspires to end subsidies and “implement a realistic tariff scheme.”
- A judicial reform, as he accuses the current judicial system of “persecuting opponents and favoring friends.”
Although these ideas are based on fallacies that overlook the historical and social reality of Argentina and the world, they have gained ground among a part of the population that expresses its discontent and weariness with the economic situation of the country.
Between scandal and popularity
Weapons, drugs, organ sales, homophobia, dictatorship denialism, anti-abortionism and misogyny; various controversies in Milei’s career have resulted in criticism of his figure, but they have also given him notable visibility and recognition in the public sphere.
This presidential candidate has repeatedly expressed his support for the sale of human organs, arguing that this would be just another market that should not be regulated by the state. In an interview with Jorge Lanata in June 2022, Milei said that if the sale of organs were carried out in a free market context, it would work more efficiently and would be the individual’s decision. On another occasion he stated that he was in favor of the sale of children, although he later clarified that he was referring to adoption and that he did not support human trafficking.
In addition, he has proposed allowing the free use and carrying of weapons by citizens. He argues that, by prohibiting their possession, it would increase its circulation in criminal activities. Likewise, he has shown himself in favor of legalizing drug consumption, saying: “If you want to commit suicide in installments, it doesn’t bother me”.
Javier Milei’s opinions on the 1976 military dictatorship have earned him the title of denialist and conspiracy theorist. He is a staunch defender of this bloody episode in Argentinian history, as he denies the disappearance of 30 thousand people.
He has not only generated controversy with his proposals and statements, but also with his attacks and insults against public figures, especially women.
One of the most prominent controversies surrounding him is his association and support to the genocidal militant Antonio Bussi, who was convicted for crimes against humanity and acted as de facto controller in the province of Tucumán during the dictatorship. Milei admitted having been his advisor in the 1990s. He subsequently formed a political alliance with Ricardo Bussi, Antonio’s son, for the 2023 provincial elections in Tucumán, in which they came in third place. Ricardo currently leads the list of Milei’s candidates for congressmen.
Antonio Bussi’s actions during the 1976 coup d’état included brutal repression against the guerrilla and the civilian population, and he perpetrated kidnappings, tortures, murders and forced disappearances affecting around 800 people, including trade unionists, students, teachers, doctors and lawyers. In 2008 he was tried and convicted for crimes against humanity, for which he served life imprisonment until his death in 2011.
Milei also has a number of eccentric elements in his personal life that distinguish him. He has a strong religious conviction and claims to have conversations with God; he is fond of pseudo-science; he lives with five mastiffs, which he has named after famous economists, and claims he can contact one of their deceased dogs; he is fond of English rock music and usually sings songs of this genre in his political events; he also surrounds himself with “hot armadoras,” young and attractive women who are in charge of organizing and promoting his events and candidacies, and he has been accused of asking them for sexual favors.
“The parents of the creature”
Behind Javier Milei’s candidacy there are several characters that explain this political phenomenon. One of them is Mario Russo, a consultant who became his main advisor.
According to an article by Argentinian journalist Juan Luis González, published in Anfibia Magazine, Russo was responsible for introducing key concepts of the libertarian’s discourse, such as “the caste,” “them against us,” or “freedom advances.” Russo was also in charge of defining the slogans, the propaganda, the strategy in the social networks and the places to make the tours and the acts, and he was the one who guided Milei to focus on the electoral segment between 16 and 28 years old, those most receptive to his proposals.
Russo also knew how to take advantage of the territorial and political work that the Libertarian Party had been doing all over the country, which translated into an important mobilization of militants in the most crowded events of the campaign.
Regarding the break in the relationship, Russo says in an interview that he left because Milei did not care about consolidating a party to articulate the interests of his voters, he said: “Milei only cares about being himself. That’s why he believes he doesn’t need anyone, he doesn’t need a party.” He stressed that the party was displaced in the final stretch to make room for people who have nothing to do with the ideas that Milei claims to represent.
The article by González continues: “That is where the figure of Carlos Kikuchi forcefully emerged” referring to publicist and former spokesman of Domingo Cavallo (former minister of economy of the neoliberal governments of Carlos Menem and Fernando de la Rúa), who became the “armorer” of LLA. This connection contradicts the idea that Milei confronts the political “caste.”
According to Revista Anfibia: “Domingo Cavallo is usually pointed out as one of Milei’s mentors. Cristina Kirchner herself said so when she spoke at an event in La Plata del Libertario as the ‘clear-eyed disciple’ of the convertibility minister. It is along these lines that almost everyone in LLA insists on the version that Cavallo was the one who sent Kikuchi to the cabinet, as a kind of support or blessing.”
Some former members of the libertarian space accuse Kikuchi of charging candidates who want to occupy a position on the electoral ballot of the coalition up to 50 thousand dollars. According to the media, this character has great influence over the presidential candidate and his sister, Karina.
Karina Milei, his sister, is a woman who is dedicated to tarot and who has a strategic role in the campaign of the libertarian economist. According to reports, she is the one who chooses her brother’s candidates and collaborators, based on the cards and her intuition. Some call her “The Boss,” referring to the way Milei addresses her, or “The First Lady.”
Gonzalez says in his text that, although she does not have public or media presence, Karina is the one who organizes, controls and decides on the most important aspects of the campaign and the functioning of the party. She manages the money, the strategy, the agenda, the aesthetics, and the links with the other members and allies of the space.
She is the one who has the power to influence and persuade her brother, the only one he trusts completely. She is the one who “fills in all the holes,” the article notes.
Explaining Milei’s success
How can we explain the fact that such a controversial and destabilized character, with eccentric ideas and questionable and regressive proposals, has managed to capture the attention and support of an important part of the Argentinian electorate? It is not possible to give credit to a successful campaign strategy without looking at the context.
The conditions of political discontent and the frustration of a significant segment of Argentinian society in the face of the mistakes of Alberto Fernández’s government, along with the economic crisis that had been developing since Mauricio Macri’s government, were determining elements for the political rise of Milei. He knew how to take advantage of this malaise and present himself as a supposed radical alternative to Kirchnerism and Macrism, with an anti-system and provocative discourse, although it remains to be seen if his political actions are really in tune with his discourse, which seems to have many holes and dead ends.
Now, after his victory in the PASO, Javier Milei seems to be going go all out for October. The question of whether or not Argentina’s destiny will be in the hands of this extravagant and extremist character, will be answered over the next two months.
Translation by Orinoco Tribune
ecsorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/ecsorinoco/October 2, 2023
ecsorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/ecsorinoco/October 2, 2023