Wednesday, May 22, 2024

ARGENTINA | 11-04-2024 14:12

Milei reveals family Jewish link as he visits US for meeting with Musk

Libertarian leader, who was joined in Miami by his girlfriend Fátima Florez, reveals previously unknown familial tie to Jewish faith as he receives award from religious organisation; High expectation ahead of meeting with Elon Musk in Texas as plans are drawn up for mogul’s 2025 visit to Argentina.

President Javier Milei departed Argentina midweek for his second visit to the United States as head of state, visiting Miami to receive an award and deepen his ties with Jewish leaders, and Texas for his long-awaited face-to-face meet with billionaire businessman Elon Musk.

Milei, 53, landed in Miami on Wednesday morning, accompanied by presidential chief-of-staff, his sister Karina Milei and filmmaker Santiago Oría, who produces the libertarian leader’s audiovisual material.

He was welcomed by Gerardo Werthein, Argentina’s nominee for ambassador to the United States, upon his arrival in the United States.

Milei rested at his hotel, spending hours on social media retweeting and posting, before beginning his activity on Wednesday night. 

Attending a dinner organised by the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish community, an orthodox congregation whose headquarters in New York he visited on two occasions, he was recognised as an “International Ambassador of Light" for his services at a synagogue.

During the event, Milei – who grew up Catholic but has a professed "fanaticism" for Judaism – revealed a previously unknown familial tie to the faith, saying that his grandfather had discovered he was Jewish shortly before his death.

"My grandfather was a great influence, with whom I spoke frequently, took values and learned a lot. The most interesting thing is that shortly after he left, he found out he was Jewish. He didn't know and they told him: 'But if your mother was Jewish, you are Jewish,'" said Milei on stage, wearing a kippah.

"He was very close to his mother and his grandfather was also a rabbi. That is to say, all the education he had received from them was deeply linked to Judaism and all the values he transmitted to me were Jewish," continued the president, who was hailed by a rabbi at the event as "a light" that can "dispel darkness."

The following day, Milei met with the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Brazilian economist Ilan Goldfajn, and gave a presentation to the FIU Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy.


Meeting with Musk

Throughout the week, anticipation built ahead of Milei’s Friday meeting with Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and the X social network, taking place at the Tesla Giga Texas factory in Austin.

Ahead of the meeting, the President retweeted a number of posts about his meeting with the entrepreneur, including an article published by the Reuters news agency highlighting Musk’s interest in lithium, a metal of which there are large deposits in Argentina.

Musk and Milei have created something of a mutual appreciation society on social media, with the South Africa-born business tycoon regularly praising the libertarian leader’s approach to politics and reform plans. 

Prior to his inauguration as head of state last December, the duo shared a phone call in which they discussed potential business opportunities. Since taking office, Milei has deregulated the national satellite Internet service market, allowing Musk’s Starlink firm to begin operating across Argentina.  

Musk and Milei have previously discussed the possibility of the billionaire businessman visiting Buenos Aires in March 2025 to deliver a masterclass at a summit focusing on digital technology, innovation and artificial intelligence.

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO has previously expressed interest in visiting Salta Province to learn about lithium-related ventures.

Musk's interest in lithium stems from its use as a power source for Tesla's electric vehicles. The tycoon has already established contacts with President Milei to explore investment possibilities in the northern region, which is home to some of the largest lithium deposits on Earth.

Any investment from Musk, the world’s second-richest man according to Forbes, would be a major vote of confidence in Argentina and Milei.

Government officials would like to discuss the possibility of building up a lithium "mega-factory" in Argentina, a project that could generate thousands of jobs and contribute to the country's economic development.

After his meeting with Musk, Milei was scheduled to board a flight for Paris, France, where he will briefly stop before carrying on to Denmark.

Once in Copenhagen, the President will attend a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and join a ceremony celebrating Argentina’s purchase of F16 fighter jets. 



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