An economist who promised to “drive a chainsaw into the state machine” and dollarize the economy. A flamboyant politician who downplays the crimes of the dictatorship and advocates the free carrying of weapons. Javier Milei, 53, the son of a bus driver and a housewife, has just been elected president of Argentina. Who is the man who “jumped into politics convinced that he had a mission”?
– This is a historic night for our country, the beginning of the end of decadence – said on Sunday, November 19, Javier Milei, who had just been elected president of Argentina, winning nearly 56 percent of the votes. His rival, Sergio Massa, the current economy minister in the left-wing Peronist government, received 44 percent support.
“Today begins the reconstruction of Argentina.” “The changes will be drastic”
Milei is the leader of the far-right populist movement La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Comes Forward). “Friends and enemies of the future president of Argentina compare him to his colleagues, right-wing populists Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro. Others describe this economist with a crazy hairstyle as a combination of Boris Johnson and the Chucky doll,” says the British “Guardian”. “El Pais” writes about “a mixture of a messianic preacher and a rock star.”
The lion that stopped roaring
As the daily El Pais wrote, last Sunday more than 14 million Argentines voted for the “flamboyant and angry outsider” who promised, among other things, dollarization of the economy and unprecedented cuts in social spending. The Guardian adds that the president-elect is known for promising to “throw a chainsaw into the state machine.”
In one of the pre-election debates, Milei, presenting the points of his program, talked about launching a ruthless fight against the crime spreading in the country. He stated that this should be achieved by making it easier for citizens to purchase and legally possess weapons, radically tightening the provisions of the penal code and “modifying the prison system.”
However, “El Pais” points out that before the second round of the presidential elections, Milei changed his rhetoric and withdrew some of his earlier announcements. He emphasizes that the future president, in order to gain votes, “has spent the last few weeks dressing up as professional politicians whom he hates so much.” “The lion, as he was called, stopped roaring. He remained calm even when criticized and withdrew from his most controversial ideas, such as the privatization of health care and education and the free carrying of weapons,” he enumerates.
As the Spanish daily adds, his recent transformation brings to mind one of the most famous phrases attributed to former Argentine president Carlos Menem: “If I said what I was going to do, no one would vote for me.” But Milei said it and then took it back.
The daily writes about “countless contradictions” and “two versions” of the president-elect. And he adds that “his true face will begin to reveal himself when he takes over the presidency,” i.e. on December 10.
Read more about the characteristics of the new president of Argentina
The “withdrawn child” who became president
Milei was born on October 22, 1970 in Buenos Aires. He is the son of Norberto, a bus driver who later became the owner of a transport company, and Alicia, a housewife. As he himself admitted, he grew up in an atmosphere of beatings, humiliation and insults.
– All the beatings I suffered as a child mean that today I am not afraid of anything anymore – said Milei in one of the television interviews.-
Former classmates describe him as a withdrawn child who did not like socializing. A similar description is given by people who worked with him at Corporación América, a business conglomerate headed by Eduardo Eurnekián, one of Argentina’s richest men and considered his first godfather. These accounts agree on the president-elect’s explosive temperament, which continues to be a source of problems for the president-elect to this day.
“Lonely and distrustful” man with cloned dogs
“El Pais” writes that Milei “displays uncompromising and authoritarian features.” “He and his vice presidential candidate, Victoria Villarruel, deny state terrorism and minimize the dictatorship’s crimes against humanity. [juntę wojskową, która rządziła Argentyną na przełomie lat 70. i 80. – red.]considering them as ‘excesses’,” he adds.
“Milei is deeply undemocratic. He gets very angry when people contradict him. He doesn’t like it at all when someone tells him something different than what he thinks, even if it is done in a polite way,” admits lawyer and financial expert Carlos Maslatón, quoted by journal.
Many people describe the man who will soon become the head of the Argentine state as “lonely and distrustful.” His most trusted people include his sister Karina, who is also the head of the campaign. Also characteristic is his attachment to “little four-legged children”, as he calls them, i.e. his dogs – Murray, Milton, Robert and Lucas, named after the economists he admires. These are clones of his beloved Conan, a mastiff who died in 2017. The New York Times wrote that they were created in a laboratory in upstate New York.
Hallmark – hairstyle inspired by Presley and the Marvel comic book hero
The future president of Argentina is also distinguished by his unconventional hairstyle, which – as “The Guardian” writes – was invented by his image consultant Lilia Lemoine, who in one of the interviews stated that she was inspired by Elvis Presley and Wolverine, the hero of the Marvel comic book series. Lemoine said she sees striking similarities between Argentina’s president-elect and the Marvel character. “(Wolverine) is very loyal and brave, (…). He can really go berserk and aggressive towards his enemies – but only when he is attacked. He will never, ever kill or attack anyone for no reason.” – she said, emphasizing that Milei also has a softer side.
“He jumped into politics convinced that he had a mission”
What is the secret of the future president’s electoral success? As “El Pais” writes, Milei “understood better than anyone the fatigue of Argentine society with successive economic crises and the lack of answers to the challenges faced by millions of people.” Therefore, it was crucial to reach “people who work hard but cannot make ends meet, those who lock themselves in their homes at sunset because they are afraid to go out, those who evade all taxes because they doubt your fate.”
The changes announced by the president-elect include tightening the law on abortion, privatization of public companies, and Argentina’s natural resources, such as the Vaca Muerta hydrocarbon deposit.
“El Pais” emphasizes that Milei “jumped into politics convinced that he had a mission.” It was to put an end to inflation, uncertainty and the privileges of politicians once and for all.” “In short – changing Argentina once and for all, eradicating Peronism from it,” the daily adds. Milei promised that if he is given time, in 35 years Argentina will be the second United States. However, he can rule for a maximum of 10 years, i.e. two terms.
El Pais, Guardian, New York Times
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/Juan Ignacio Roncoroni