Buenos Aires — In just two years, Javier Milei went from being a quirky and outspoken economist who reviled the political class on television to one of the most voted presidents in the recent history of Argentina.
The leader of the La Libertad Avanza party, 53 years old, became a light of hope for those who want a drastic political and economic change that would stop the annual inflation of more than 140%, the growing poverty that affects more than 40% of population and rampant crime.
Known among his followers as “El Leon Libertario”, “El Peluca” or “El Loco”, Milei shook the campaign from the beginning and attacked everyone and everything that in his opinion represents the “political caste” that has damaged the country. . And in a country fed up with not seeing a solution over the years, his disruptive position worked for the economist.
“I want to tell all Argentines that today begins the end of Argentine decadence. “Today we begin to turn the page of our history,” said Milei in his first speech as elected president.
Son of a passenger transport businessman and a housewife, the economist has said that his childhood and youth were marked by an unhappy relationship with his father, from whom he suffered abuse. In parallel to life at home, young Milei played in a band that paid tribute to The Rolling Stones and played as a goalkeeper in the lower divisions of the Chacarita soccer club.
His relationship with his parents remains distant.
His life took a new direction in 1989, in the midst of the hyperinflation of the Raul Alfonsin government (1983-1989). He says that then he saw in the supermarket “that people were jumping on the merchandise while the girls passed by highlighting” the prices. And that was when he decided to step away from his football career.
“The dignity solution made me stop playing soccer and dedicate myself to studying. At the age of 20 I wrote my first academic article called ‘Hyperinflation and distortion in the markets,’” he said recently in an interview.
Milei graduated from the University of Belgrano and then completed two postgraduate degrees. He ended up being an admirer of the Austrian school, a school of thought that opposes any regulation of the market by the State.
He worked as an economic advisor in banks and consulting firms. He was chief economist at Corporacion America and also taught classes at two Argentine universities.
He is the author and co-author of books such as “Again soup: Maquinita, infleta, devaluta”, “The path of the libertarian” and “The end of inflation”.
This work did not prevent him from cultivating a histrionic facet, like the one he displayed in 2018 with the work “Milei’s Office” in which, in the format of a therapeutic session, he reviewed the government’s economic measures with his caustic language. Between insults and shouts, during the full house performances he would smash a cardboard Central Bank with clubs.
He promises “the reconstruction of Argentina”
He also displayed his aggressive ways in television programs in which he denigrated politicians, considering them a “caste” of the privileged and questioned the established order. In one of them he described Pope Francis as an “imbecile” who defends social justice and “evil” incarnated on Earth.
His growing popularity, especially among young people, spread with the provocative videos he uploaded on social networks.
For a time, and before recently moderating his character to attract more votes, Milei held a chainsaw in proselytizing caravans with which he symbolized the spending cuts he would make in the State.
The libertarian has several English mastiffs, all named after liberal economists and which he calls “four-legged sons.”
Recently, he was asked if he communicates through a medium with Conan, another mastiff who has already died and who was his support in difficult moments of his life, as has been mentioned in journalistic versions and in the book “The Fool”, the biography does not authorized written by Juan Luis Gonzalez. The economist did not deny it. “Let them say what they want,” he simply said.
In recent months, the economist has presented as his partner the comedian Fatima Florez, who parodies—among other public figures—the vice president and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007-2015).
In his campaign for the presidency, he promised to eradicate “parasitic politicians and thieves” to end Argentina’s decline.
The far-right remembers other disruptive leaders such as Donald Trump, in the United States, and Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil.
Among his main proposals to combat inflation is the dollarization of the economy, although he has given few details of how he will implement it. He also defends the closure of the Central Bank, which he considers responsible for the unchecked monetary issue.
Milei has also proposed calling a popular plebiscite to repeal the law that legalized abortion and his program contemplates the deregulation of the legal arms market.
His political group, Libertad Avanza, is a young force with just over 30 elected deputies and almost a dozen senators, which will force Milei to agree with other political forces to move forward with his bills. She has no elected governors.
Their challenges will be to ensure governability with that a priori weak political structure and to have “the emotional stability to lead an entire country when it has not exercised previous leadership,” Mariel Fornoni, of the Management & Fit consulting firm, told AP.
For now, Milei has already promised after his victory that he will begin “the reconstruction of Argentina.”