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Argentina's Milei cozies up to Trump on US visit

February 25, 2024

US ex-President Donald Trump and Argentine leader Javier Milei have addressed a conservative conference in Washington. The two swore to make their countries "great again" — but both face challenges.

 Donald Trump and Javier Milei, smiling and giving the thumbs up
Donald Trump (left) and Javier Milei (right) both have unconventional approaches to politicsImage: Argentine Presidency/REUTERS

Argentine President Javier Milei and former US President Donald Trump covered much common ground in speeches made at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Saturday.

Both politicians, who hugged backstage before a joint photo shoot, took up Trump's signature MAGA (Make America Great Again) slogan, with the former US leader noting that the acronym works with Argentina as well.

What did Trump and Milei say?

Trump used part of his speech to praise the libertarian Milei, saying he "has achieved a lot, he is a great gentleman, he is MAGA."

Trump also called out "Make Argentina Great Again" as the two posed for photos.

 Crowd gathered in front of the National Congress in Buenos Aires
Milei's policies have roused considerable protest in ArgentinaImage: Agustin Marcarian/REUTERS

Milei, in his speech, once more referenced MAGA, saying: "We are not going to give up on making Argentina great again," while warning that the world "is in danger" due to socialism.

He also elaborated on his own signature phrase, "Long live freedom, damn it!" 

"Do not give up your freedom, fight for your freedom because if you do not fight for freedom it will lead you to misery," he told the audience.

Milei also called access to legal abortion a "murderous agenda" to reduce the size of the population.

Protests and legal woes

Since taking office in December, Milei has been attempting to foist his own brand of "freedom" on Argentina, carrying out a program of massive economic deregulation by presidential decree.

He also has devalued the peso and cut state subsidies.

Argentina's approval of sweeping reforms sparks protest

Milei's package of reforms has roused considerable unrest in his country, with thousands taking to the streets and others going on strike.

In another recent act of resistance, six petroleum-producing provinces have threatened to cut supplies to the rest of the country in protest at the president's funding reductions.

Milei has insisted in withholding some 13.5 billion pesos ($15.3 million/€14.1 million) in monthly transfers of federal tax revenues to one of the provinces, Chubut, as part of the austerity measures.

In a message on X, formerly Twitter, Milei denounced the southern leaders as "fiscal degenerates."

Trump, for his part, is facing 91 felony counts across two state courts and two different federal districts. The charges range from fraud to defamation and sexual assault.

He nonetheless remains front-runner as the Republican candidate for November US presidential election.

tj/sri (AFP, AP)