The Unión Cívica Radical, the nation’s oldest surviving political party, on Monday paid tribute to its late historic leader Raúl Alfonsín and slammed libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei ahead of the November 19 ballot.
"Any Radical who votes for Milei is betraying Alfonsín's legacy," declared UCR chair and outgoing Jujuy Province Governor Gerardo Morales.
He delivered the remark shortly before an event in Buenos Aires commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1983 election, which ended the 1976-1983 civic-military dictatorship’s control of power.
Raúl Alfonsín (1927-2009) governed between 1983 and 1989, a period fraught with upheavals due to two military uprisings and hyperinflation.
These were also the years in which the testimonies of the victims of human rights violations were compiled in the historic Nunca más report and the military junta’s leaders, responsible for crimes against humanity, were put on trial.
The social democratic UCR is a member of the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition, which also includes the right-wing PRO and the more centrist Coalición Cívica.
But the alliance is in crisis after its presidential candidate, former security minister Patricia Bullrich, was defeated in the first round of the presidential election. After the vote, she called on Argentines to support Milei over Peronist hopeful, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, in the upcoming run-off set for November 19.
The declaration has fractured the party. The UCR has to date declared itself "neutral," though former 2015-2019 president Mauricio Macri, the founder of PRO, has also declared his support for Milei.
Morales declared on Monday that Milei is "emotionally unbalanced" and represents a "leap into the void" due to his "fundamentalist far-right" proposals.
The remarks were made during a tribute to Alfonsín at the Plaza Estado del Vaticano, in the centre of Buenos Aires, headed by Morales and UCR Vice-Chair Martín Lousteau.
Milei, a 53-year-old economist who advocates "anarcho-capitalism" and who was a political unknown just two years ago, has surprised with a rapid rise. He finished second in the first presidential round with almost 30 percent of the vote, behind Massa, who took 37 percent.
"We are currently facing a challenge that has to do with two options that we do not share, two options that harm the Argentine Republic," said Morales on Monday.
"Both Sergio Massa and Javier Milei are not the best alternative for the Argentine Republic and they want to take us down a path that we will not go down, we will not go down the path of fundamentalism, the path of madness, the path of the leap into the void," Morales said.
In his opinion, "fundamentalism has disguised itself as many things and now it is libertarianism."
"We need a party that renews itself. And we have four years to work tirelessly, tirelessly from the role of opposition, revitalising our teams, revitalising our youth with men who are the expression of renewal.
"Whoever governs will govern and the Unión Cívica Radical will be there, controlling, setting the course and rebuilding this alternative for four years. Four years go by fast.
"I regret that the country faces this dilemma, which is going to waste time. That is why we have to work as cohesively as possible, stronger than ever, to be the alternative that governs the Argentine Republic in 2027," declared Morales.
For his part, Lousteau, the party's vice-chair, said: "We reject the two dangers that we have already known in Argentina, neither the hegemonic temptation nor the authoritarian drift."
"These are difficult days, we are facing a horrible election, but none of the challenges we face are more difficult than those faced by Alfonsín," said the senator.