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ARGENTINA | 24-02-2024 19:42

Milei meets with Trump at CPAC, adapts his slogan for Argentina

“We will not give up on making Argentina great again,” declares President Javier Milei before delivering a 40-minute speech to Republican voters at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington.

President Javier Milei greeted former US president Donald Trump in Washington DC on Saturday as he made a headline speech to the Republican Party’s most conservative wing in the United States of America.

nown for their distinctive hair, spicy oratory and rejection of traditional political norms, Milei, 53, met Trump, 77, backstage prior to their speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an event in Washington that draws together some of the former US president’s biggest backers.

The 90-second encounter, in which Milei is overcome by emotion and greets Trump enthusiastically, was filmed and published on social media by Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni.

"I'm very happy," said Milei. "You are very generous to me," added the libertarian.

Afterwards, the former US president mentioned the far-right leader in his speech to the conference.

"He is one of the few who can make Argentina great again," Trump said of Milei, who was present in the auditorium at the time.

"I want to thank the president of Argentina, who had a lot of publicity. He is a great gentleman, he is 'MAGA': Make Argentina Great Again. He can do it. Javier Milei. Thank you Milei, thank you very much, it's a great honour to have you here," said Trump, who was introduced to the crowd as the United States' "next president."

Despite myriad legal woes, Trump is gearing up for a probable rematch with US President Joe Biden in November's elections, having lost to the Democrat in 2020. And he was very much on home turf at CPAC, where he is wildly popular.

Argentina’s president had travelled to CPAC with a small entourage made up of his sister, Secretary General to the Presidency Karina Milei, and Argentina’s Ambassador to the United States Gerardo Werthein.

Milei met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires the previous day amid speculation that his appearance at CPAC could damage relations between the Joe Biden administration and Argentina’s new government.

The libertarian leader’s visit to CPAC is a nod to Trump, who is challenging Biden in the US election later this year. Ideologically closer to the controversial former head of state, Milei and Trump promised in their brief meeting Saturday to hold further talks at a later date.

Milei made a gesture towards the Republicans last week when he received Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is reportedly in the running to be Trump's vice-presidential candidate.


‘Making Argentina great again’

In a lengthy speech later to the main auditorium, Milei adapted Trump’s campaign slogan to his own political journey, declaring that his government “will not give up on making Argentina great again.”

Milei, who has slashed government spending since taking office last December, is intending to put Argentina back on the road to growth. 

In the grip of a deep crisis with inflation running at 254 percent per annum, the La Libertad Avanza leader is facing resistance to his austerity approach on the streets and in Congress. Poverty current affects more than half of the population and soup kitchens are demanding food aid for the impoverished.

In his CPAC address, the head of state blamed Argentina’s decline on socialism and said he would stop at nothing to end the crisis.

"The corrupt caste is made up of thieving politicians, who put their privileges above the welfare of Argentines. By corrupt businessmen, who do business with corrupt politicians. By corrupt media outlets, who are very angry with us because we eliminated their state advertising," Milei declared, who appeared alongside large US flags.

"Also trade unionists who take care of their business, against the people. And professionals who live off the religion of the state. Therefore, they will become aware of the great fight we are putting up, but we are not going to give up on making Argentina great again,” he said to applause from the crowd.

"We are not going to give up on making Argentina great again," said Milei.

He ended with a plea: "Do not give up your freedom, fight for your freedom because if you do not fight for freedom it will lead you to misery."

The president made this characterisation when he referred to the two "structural reforms" that he tried to push through Congress, citing his sweeping deregulation decree of necessity and urgency (DNU) and his ‘Omnibus’ bill.

"These regulations propose to give Argentines more freedom and to eliminate corruption from politics. But they met with resistance from the beneficiaries of this system in favour of the corrupt caste," he argued. 

Milei's speech also touched on a number of issues such as climate change scepticism, the decline of the West and anti-abortion rhetoric, that won warm applause and cheers from the Republican audience.

He opened his speech in playful style, clearly delighted at the support of the crowd. "Hello everyone, I am the lion," he said, before deploying his trademark slogan: "Viva la libertad carajo!"


– TIMES/NA/AFP
 

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